The pinnacle of your existence until August was your GCSEs but what happens now?
You guessed it. More work, stress and deadlines! (Welcome to adulting…) The Post 16 area will have links to useful information as you transition from teenager to very mature adult who must be taken seriously… These years, if they are anything like ours, are full of chaos.
Hope this helps.
Smashing that job interview
Job interviews can be very stressful, especially if you’re very new to the format, so knowing what to say to get the job is crucial. Here are some simple ways to smash that interview:
- Research the company- if you know who the company are, what they stand for, and what it is that they do, it’s going to be so much easier apply your very own set of skills to the objectives of the company, which will in turn make you look like a suitable candidate.
- Know your skill set- it’s impossible to apply yourself to a job if you don’t know what you can bring to the table.
- Prepare examples of those skills in practice- Interviewers may ask you to elaborate on how you’ve applied your skills; be prepared to answer those questions. For example, if you claim to have incredible organisation skills, or communication skills- how are those evidenced in your previous work experience or day to day life? There’s no silly answers here, so telling your interviewer you managed to arrange Glastonbury for your group of 7 non-cooperative friends may still be a good example.
- Be prepared to defend your vices- interviewers have to be picky as there’s always more candidates than there are roles available; know your vices, for example being uncomfortable working as a part of a team- you could address this as having really good adaptation skills and therefore you will get used to being a part of the team quickly.
- ASK QUESTIONS- and we cannot stress this enough. Not asking the interviewer any questions may come across as though you may not actually be interested in the company or the role at all. It’s always good to ask the interviewer what in their eyes would be the perfect candidate for the job in terms of personal qualities, or how they feel about working for the company. This shows interest and eagerness to fill the role.
- Be enthiusiastic- even if you’re only applying because of the way that salary looks, try your best to seem engaged and enthiusiastic about the prospect of working with the company.
- Be assertive yet polite- if the interviewer asks questions relating to your sexual orientation, age, gender, race, marital status, or private life- some of which are literally illegal notions to raise according to the Equality Act 2010- you can avoid the question by stating the fact that it does not relate to your suitability for the role.
- Bring a copy of your CV with you- your interviewer may want to address some of your previous experience with you, therefore it’s important that you know what they’re looking at and address it promptly.
- Make use of “Tell me about yourself”- most interviewers will start off with this to scope out who you may be as a person- use this time to go into detail on your selling points and key skills. If you’re incredible within a particular field that relates to the job in any way, this is the time to show off about those skills.
- Be aware of your body language- eye contact, an enthiusiastic smile, a firm handshake and good posture can do magic for your presentation. If you’re uncomfortable with eye contact (as many of us are) look at their eyebrows.
So you’re cosidering an apprenticeship…but what really are they?
Depending on the industry you want to go into the apprenticeships offered with vary greatly, but the specifics stay pretty much the same-
- To go into an apprenticeship you must be over 16.
- An apprenticeship is real job training whilst studying some content related to the job for 20% of the time.
- The 20% is not always done in a classroom, it can be on-job mentoring, digital training, shadowing a professional etc.
- They typically last between 2 and 3 years, but higher apprenticeships (level 6/7) can last over 4.
- Is it better than going to uni? It’s different. You earn a living whilst learning a trade, and the level 6s and 7s within an apprenticeship are viewed as degree-equivalent, however they can take years to complete, as opposed to university which takes 3-4 years and is a one-and-done kind of a deal.
- You gain work experience which is highly desirable in a potential employee.
- The Minimum Wage for apprentices between 16-19 is £3.90, but it is for your employer’s full disclosure if they choose to increase that number.
- Is it the same as an NVQ? An NVQ is a National Vocational Qualification, and those can be a part of your apprenticeship, however not all apprenticeships will involve an NVQ.
- An apprenticeship can enable the learner to gain license to work within a particular field which may not be possible otherwise (i.e the beauty industry which almost always requires a license.)
- There are 150 separate pathways in apprenticeships, therefore there is plenty of choice in picking your potential future career.
The pros and cons of an internship:
An internship is an on-job experience within a company that can last as short as a week or as long as a year and can very often lead to a full-time position being offered to the intern, much alike an apprenticeship.
The very obvious benefit of an internship is the fact that you gain work experience within a particular field which, if you’re trying to find work within that particular field but not necessarily with your internship company, can still look incredible on your CV and boost your employabilty, helping you get your foot in the door for the role you do want.
On the other hand, many companies will offer “unpaid internships”- those are illegal and taking advantage of young people desperate for work experience. If they’re asking you to show up on time and complete a set of tasks, they should be paying you for those tasks.
A plus of this however, is the fact that you’ll learn to negotiate effectively and develop a sense of personal assertiveness, as well as soft skills like communication, personal effectiveness, presentation/public speaking etc. This can be super beneficial in any job you choose to take on after that.
Contrary to that though, many internships will only consist of very basic tasks, and shadowing senior members of the team, therefore you don’t really get to spread your wings and work independently to show off your talent within that particular field.
Overall, if you have a couple of weeks to spare, it is always a good idea to try an internship as it shows your verisitility and ability to adapt to multiple workspaces, which often looks appealing to a future employer.
How to secure a university placement:
There’s no easy way to secure a placement year at university. They’re stressful, and some places will get you through 3 out of 4 phases of interviews only to reject you on your 4th. A placement year can be an incredible experience, but securing that placement can be a real nightmare.
Here are some ways you can be prepared and secure the placement year of your dreams:
- Perfect that CV and cover letter. This is definitely coming across a little broken-record-ish, but employers will literally skim your CV and cover letter so keep it professional, with good grammar and spelling. Keep your cover letters very specific to the role you’re applying for as standard copy-and-paste articles get very little attention.
- Persevere. Being turned down for a job can be a real hit to your confidence but try your best to not let that affect you.
- Start looking early. The earlier you apply, the greater odds you have of securing an interview and therefore you’re that much closer to securing the job.
- Attitude is key, so the more enthusiasm you bring to the cover letter and interview the better. Try not to overdo it- eager is good, obsessive is scary.
- Know your skill set and what you bring to the table. You have to seem like an appealing addition to the company, not just a person who saw a job ad with a nice salary on it. If you feel like you can contribute to the company and articulate it in a believable way, so will your interviewer.
So, you’re applying to university!
You’ve got a subject that you love and want to pursue in the next stage of education – you’ve also got what feels like a mountain of things to do and then the small matter of A-Levels to complete before you get there. Well, breathe, we’re here to help you with your application and all things UCAS so that you can focus on getting those grades!
In short this is all you have to do:
- Create a login, password, and security questions.
- Add the buzzword given to you by your sixth from/ college.
- Follow the instructions on UCAS (filling in personal details, an email address, and providing a parent/guardian/advisor access to speak on your behalf if you so wish).
And the rest is simple – I know it doesn’t seem it but it is.
There’s loads of support out there for you, including your peers. Don’t forget a lot of them will be going through exactly what you’re going through so help each other out, remind them of deadlines, ask them for advice, and just make the most of your time together!
UCAS can seem extremely complicated and long so my advice is to do it in one sitting if possible and go step by step as they indicate.
Before you start make sure to have all of your previous exam certificates to hand, proof of any part-time work, and your personal statement written. The steps are relatively simple and mostly a case of filling in pages of information which although may be tedious is not difficult so don’t fret. Most importantly do not forget to save your application after each stage because you do not want to have to fill it all in again!
Personal Statement Advice
‘It’s only 4,000 characters – what’s the big deal?’ WRONG! The personal statement is a massive deal, it is potentially your saviour in case you don’t get those all-important grades and so it needs to wow your future university. It has to tell them about you, about why you want to study your chosen subject, and ultimately why they should offer you a place over the other thousands of applicants applying for that spot. Terrifying as it may sound it can be done and here are some top tips for doing so:
- Brag – Us Brits are terrible at giving ourselves credit where it’s due; we get awkward and embarrassed about it and in most cases, avoid the situation altogether. But, when it comes to writing a personal statement a little bit of showing off is crucial. This is your one chance to tell them that you deserve a place at that university, and for them to know that you have to flaunt all of your talents and abilities straight in their face in order for them to get that idea! Remember in this case modesty is not the best solution.
- Don’t make it university specific – For some, there’s all the other universities that they’re applying to for formality’s sake, and then there’s that one university they’ve got their heart set on, the one that they’re really writing to in their personal statement. Well, that passion can stay but all of the university specifics about why you love their campus, and what modules you’re particularly looking forward to have to go. As soon as the other universities know that you don’t really want them, they won’t really want you and in the unfortunate case that you don’t get into your firm, you’re going to want another option.
- Put your voice in it – We’ve all read something where it feels like we’re reading the same thing over and over again – not fun. Well, that’s exactly what an admission’s tutor does when they read thousands of personal statements which for the most part read quite similarly. You need to make yours unique and completely personal to you. Making it different and refreshing to rests on having a personal voice within the work so that they’ll remember it.
- Start Early – What are you doing in the summer between Year 12 and Year 13? Nothing? Great because you’ve got a personal statement to write. I know, I know, your sixth form/college doesn’t want you till apply until December time and the actual deadline isn’t until January but you’ll have A Levels to do, mocks to revise for, friends to help, possibly a part-time job to get on with and that personal statement will soon pass to the back of your mind. Get ahead of the game and that personal statement down as soon as you can!
- Keep it relevant – I know the personal statement seems never-ending but it really is only 4,000 characters and that’s not a lot. Each character needs to be optimised and focused on winning the admissions tutors over. So they don’t want to know about when you made a profit of £4.50 after a summer of dog-walking for everyone in your street, they need to know about your passion for the course, your skills that will make you succeed at university and the work you’ve done to prepare you to undertake this degree.
- Proof Read – If you’ve missed all of the hints so far, a personal statement is really important – so read it. Read it out loud, read it before bed, get someone else to read it, eat some dinner and then read it again. You’re applying to university so if there’s a spelling mistake in your first sentence it will not set a good first impression. I know it sounds boring so get someone else to have a read – their fresh pair of eyes may be able to spot something you don’t, oh and then read it for yourself again! (Hint: all of this reading will also prepare you for interviews where they may bring up specific parts and ask you about them).
- Avoid the clichés – Imagine you’re the admissions tutor. You’re reading the personal statement of a student applying for nursing and it reads “I’ve wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember; I just love helping people” – you cringed too? You want to make your personal statement memorable for all of the right reasons so don’t taint their memory of your work by filling it with clichés.
- Draft & Edit – The practice of drafting and editing is something that you’ll rely on in university to get you into the next grade category and you should start developing that skill as early as you can – so now’s a good time. Keep going through your personal statement, tweaking it where necessary, so that it is the best piece of work you can produce when you send it off. Give it time in between each reading to keep your eyes fresh and ask for advice from whoever you can.
- Strong Start & Exciting End – In order to keep the admissions tutor interested and remembering your personal statement you need to keep it punchy and invigorating. A lot of the formal things that you can’t make quite as thrilling will be in the middle of your work, so make sure that right from the beginning their interested in what you have to say, and ensure to finish your work in a way that they will remember in another five personal statements time.
- Don’t try to hard – I know that these are admissions tutors are for a university so they’ll be well-educated, but don’t make them use a dictionary for every word that you write. Keep your writing clear and simple. You should focus on using your characters to prove that you deserve a space on their course, not to prove that you can waste them on a knowledgeable, perspicacious, distinguished word you found in a thesaurus.
And if you still need some help getting started check out these: