Your Weekly Careers Update Courtesy of Jack

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Interviewers are people too…

Interviewers are people too… Did you hear the one about the accountant who, in a bid to escape from a fair lady of questionable gender on a drunken week in Thailand, found himself diving headfirst onto the sandy beaches of Haad Rin? Naked?

The purpose behind an interview is to get to know you as a person. A real person. Employers want to hire someone who will work well in their team. They want you to be the person who will get involved with the weekly 5-a-side or come along to office drinks. Successful professionals balance work and play. Successful professionals are liked.*

You can’t take a course in being a likeable person. These things come with practice. ‘What should I practice?’ I hear you call… Why drinking of course!

Get involved with societies! Get down to socials! Learning how to speak to people is so incredibly important, and yet we take it for granted. It can be very, very hard. We can only learn from our mistakes, and social mistakes can be unbelievably embarrassing. I’m betting you would much rather make them in front of your friends than that potential employer who is trying so very hard to like you. He really is trying. You’re just making it incredibly difficult for him.

I should mention at this stage that you don’t have to drink to be successful. That would be a very wrong message. Alcohol has, however, become a very large part of social culture and this is very difficult to deny. The advantage of not drinking is that you can develop your social skills sober. Societies are generally very welcoming of non-drinkers and this should not be seen as a bar (pun very much intended). Drink virgin cocktails and learn to dance/sway as well as your drunken peers. Offer to be the sober first aider for socials. There’s nothing better than CPR to strike up social bonds.

To sum up in one phrase – Learn to talk to people. Do not underestimate the power of rapport. It will make or break that interview.


*Liked at interview by their potential employers. ‘Liked’ does not necessarily represent the opinion of the public at large.



So it’s coming up to exam season again. It’s mid-Easter and you really cannot be bothered to make a start. You’re procrastinating. Suddenly E4 is a lot more interesting than you remember. Who knew American television could be so hilarious and diverse?

If you know full well you’re not going to start revising until you come back to Uni and it’s inevitably going to be too late, here are a few tips that might increase your chances of success. I’ve also taken the liberty to try and explain why it works.


Fact: How much you can recall will increase with a good night’s sleep.

Science: There are two parts of your brain called the hippocampus and the cortex. The hippocampus acts as a short-term storage area for new information (your revision notes). The cortex is responsible for deeper levels of learning and storage (the stuff you will remember in your exam). The link is sleep. When you sleep, the hippocampus tells the cortex the important things you’ve learnt that day. The cortex will take it all in and make links with everything else you have learnt and from the same area or other areas of your shosen subject, deepening your understanding of the subject as a whole.

What this means: This does not mean you can learn everything the night before your exam. You need time and experience. The more nights you have to sleep, the deeper your understanding of the work you have done and the higher your chances of success. Don’t complain. I’m advocating sleep. Not too much sleep in one go. That would be silly. Find balance.


Fact: Your subconscious is much more powerful than your conscious.

Science: Your subconscious works hard. Constantly. Even while we are awake. It is also responsible for your understanding.

What this means: Have you ever experienced a ‘click’? You hate a subject. You just don’t get along with it. Suddenly, a month before your exam, it all makes sense! This is your subconscious working whilst you don’t even realise it. So take regular breaks. Take the time to mull things over. Try it.

Diet (which means ‘eat stuff’)

Fact (ish): There are well founded claims that oily fish and plenty of water will improve your concentration.

Science: A wealth of research suggests that the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 improve concentration and memory. They can even help with depression funnily enough (quite fitting given the looming gloom). Furthermore, even slight levels of dehydration (it is claimed) can have a surprisingly adverse effect upon concentration.

What this means: These are claims. Very well founded claims, but claims all the same. It might work, it might not. It more than likely will. If it doesn’t work, it’s a pretty handy placebo. Start eating some oily fish. Make sure you’re getting enough water. All inclusive bills? Go to town.

Lapse of Time

Fact: We forget things. The more you go back over your notes, the more you will remember.

No science here. We all know it’s true. We just don’t want to admit it.

Make sure you are going over your notes. Don’t just skim. Take the information in again. Open your mind to it. Fight the urge to go play Xbox. Drive that caffiene addiction. You’ll regret it after your exams, but you won’t care. You’ll have a first*.

*This is no guarantee. It just seemed like the right thing to say. Push your ambitions and stuff.

Good luck.


You DO NOT need to know what you want to do. You DO need to start finding out.

Me: “Why haven’t you used the Careers Service?”

Student: “Because I don’t know what I want to do.”


Me: “So why haven’t you used the Careers Service?”


It is incredible how often I get this reply. It makes so little sense when you think about it:

These people are here to help you.

They know which degrees lead to where.

They have loads of free booklets dedicated to each subject area offered at university.

They know what jobs are available.

They know the entry requirements for different jobs.

They can advise you on and help you to improve your CV.

They can help you get a paid internship.


Why are you still reading this? Why aren’t you talking to the Careers Service already?


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