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Finding your University Identity

Finding your University Identity

In Beck Varley-Winter’s excellent piece Surviving University, I was struck by what she says about  Freshers Week: “Freshers Week suits extroverts. If you are not one, you will find socialising in massive groups can be stressful”. Many of the students I address each October would find resonance in Becky’s words.  Indeed, some would find the term “stressful” far too moderate a word to describe their experiences of a new environment, glamoured by history, by hope and by parental pride. As young people leave their families, they face a transition period in which...
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How to Get Out of a Career Rut and Start Living

How to Get Out of a Career Rut and Start Living

Do you dread going into work in the morning? An incredible half of us in the UK believe our choice of career was a mistake.Given the fact that half of Britons spend their days doing something they describe as "meaningless” and “too stressful”, there's a heck of a lot of misery out there. All too often the dreams we harbour of running a tea shop, changing careers or writing novels, fall by the wayside because the bills won’t pay themselves. What's more, re-training is hard, changing track is risky and sometimes it feels like we’re better with the devil we know. However,...
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Don't Judge Me For Not Getting Drunk With Work Mates

Don't Judge Me For Not Getting Drunk With Work Mates

I realised that binge drinking wasn’t for me during my Fresher’s Week at university. This is the infamous time in every young adult’s life which consists of masochistically getting bladdered repeatedly, in the hope of forming some lasting bonds of friendship with a group of petrified fellow students. All so that we could LOL about our collective hangovers and embarrassing hook-ups of the morning after the night before. Of course the natural antidote to our terror about being alone was to glug as much poison as humanly possible. Away from home, and far from the...
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How to Manage Your Online Presence

How to Manage Your Online Presence

Your professional reputation matters. What you say about yourself online, what others say about you, the comments you make, the opinions you express - all these can influence whether or not colleagues trust and respect you, give you business, a promotion, or a job. It’s vital to take control of your online presence and make sure that the spaces you inhabit, and what you do and say in those spaces, fits with the image you want to project. And here’s the key - consciously thinking about how you want to appear to your professional peers. Do you want them to see you as...
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Surviving Redundancy

Surviving Redundancy

The devastation of being made redundant can leave you freewheeling emotionally for months – even years. It’s very natural for people facing redundancy, regardless of whether it was expected or not, to go through a process of grief similar to bereavement. In his book, Winning Through Redundancy, Steve Preston describes the five main impacts. 1. Shock, denial and anger – why me? 2. Fear of the unknown – will I get another job, and can I survive financially? 3. Loss of confidence and self-esteem – do I have any value? 4. Loss of self-control – now the...
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How to Enjoy Work More

How to Enjoy Work More

There are roughly 250 working days in a year, meaning a 40-year career looks like 10,000 days of doing work of some description. 10,000 seems a big number, until you realise 140+ of those days have already passed since you sat eating turkey at Christmas. Just pause for a moment. What have you done with the first 140 days of your working year and how would you assess the results they’ve created for you?  Which version of you showed up to work? It’s easy to focus on organisational structures, corporate cultures and operational protocols and convince ourselves...
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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing at Work

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing at Work

Writing is a craft which you can learn, get better at, and improve throughout your working life. No matter how well or badly you think you communicate in writing, you can improve your clarity and effectiveness by working on these areas: Empathise with your target audience I mean REALLY put yourself in their shoes. Think hard about what they want and need to know, not just what you want to tell them. Decide what style is most appropriate for what you want them to think or feel - but remember, even formal documents benefit from a sparse and simple style.  Consider...
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What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

Does it matter what you wear at work? In an ideal world, perhaps it shouldn’t matter what you wear, as long as you’re good at your job. In the real world, in many jobs, it matters quite a bit. Lawrence needed a company to organise a corporate event. “I met this woman twice and both times she wore a low cut top. Great for a night out, but for a financial services conference? I don’t think so.” The business went to someone else. And here’s Alice talking about a new grad who hasn’t realised yet that his clothes are stopping him being taken seriously: “His outfits...
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Applying to University? Read This.

Applying to University? Read This.

Imagine buying an expensive item for which you have over 40 different choices. A phone, say, or a laptop. You might feel a little anxious about choosing the right one. Now imagine buying an item costing £33,000 which will affect your future, and having over forty thousand choices. Feeling anxious yet? Your teachers won’t tell you this, and your family probably doesn’t know it, but choosing a university course (combined with studying and worrying about your grades) can cause massive stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you follow some simple guidelines. 1....
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How Empathy Can Advance Your Career

How Empathy Can Advance Your Career

Empathy can work for you, at work.  By putting yourself in the shoes of a prospective employer, your colleague or your boss, you can find more positive ways of responding to challenges. Here are three scenarios where empathy made a real difference. The ‘difficult’ boss Clare, a senior manager, was tearing her hair out trying to please her line manager (a female, board level executive). Clare felt her boss undermined her constantly, by challenging every detail of her plans and reports, and wanting reasons (in writing) for every decision. Clare was on the brink of...
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