Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Getting a head start with your research over the summer

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I hope you are all having a lovely summer holidays!

Are you moving into the final year of your degree and will be writing a dissertation?  It *could* be a good idea to start researching your main idea, if you’re feeling productive.  When I first started preparing, I had to send in an idea so I could be matched up with a supervisor.  If you haven’t done this already, or if you just want to carry on developing your idea, this post may help you!  It’s not necessary to do lots and lots of research over the summer, but it could help you get a head start before your supervisor meetings, and you may have more developed questions to ask them.  Here are some tips for early research:

  1. Figure out what you’re interested in.

If you have some sort of idea of what you want to do, then great!  You can probably skip this step.  If you don’t, then no worries!  Start off by making notes/diagrams/mind-maps on topics you’re interested in within your subject.  I got my dissertation idea just from attending a lecture!  There might be something in one of the lectures that hasn’t been researched enough, you may want to apply a new concept to an already existing theory, or you may want to combine different areas within your subject.  Whichever way you decide to go about it, it all starts by deciding what area you’re most interested in and working on from that.

  1. See what’s already out there.

Start off with a simple Google Scholar/Star Plus search.  If you still don’t have a concrete idea, but you do know what you’re interested in, this could be a good idea to see what others have researched.  You may stumble across some interesting, recent articles that haven’t done X, Y and Z.  If you’re looking at a specific topic, make sure to view all recent articles written about it, so you don’t start claiming you’re filling a gap in the literature that isn’t there!

  1. Get advice from your tutors.

Even though it’s the summer holidays, you could write a list of questions as you go along, ready to ask your tutors/supervisors when you start the next academic year.  You might even find that you answer the questions yourself, just by researching.  Remember that it’s not a requirement to start research so early (unless you have been instructed to by your tutors) and that even making a list of questions is a good way to get a head start.

Disclaimer: if you feel at any point that doing research is not helping you, and that you would like to wait until the start of your next year, do not feel guilty for stopping.  I did tiny amounts over the summer, and the amount I researched did not affect my progress throughout the academic year.  Also, drop in to 301 at any time during your final year!  It’s not just for first or second years here – in fact, I only utilised the workshops/study sessions in my final year when I needed the help!  There is support in every section of the university, so don’t panic!

Posted in Written by Sophie

A few tips for applications and interviews over the summer!

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Hi everyone!  I’m Sophie, one of the new interns at 301.  I’ve just finished my undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics and will be studying a Masters next year.  Looking forward to meeting some of your next year at 301!

I thought I would write a post on applications and interviews for those of you who are job-hunting over the summer holidays.  I was looking for work over the summer too, and was incredibly anxious as I needed to save up money for the next academic year.  Hopefully these tips will help you concentrate on finding work, and will make your search slightly easier.

  1. It is better to apply for fewer jobs and put effort into them!

In the past, I often didn’t take care over my applications, often repeating some of the things I had previously written in other applications.  This time, I found that taking the time to find jobs online that suited me meant that I was much more successful in being called to interview.  I took the time to read through each job description carefully, and went through the criteria to check I met each one.  Just because a job is in a sector that you have worked in before doesn’t mean that it is right for you! Be very critical of the job postings you apply for, as you do not want to ruin your time-off with a job that you don’t like.

  1. Meet every job requirement.

Even if it is briefly, make sure you meet the job description/person requirements in either the application or interview.  For instance, one of the requirements may be “has a keen eye for fashion” (if you’re applying for a retail position!).  I have never had a permanent job in retail, but I did help with the sales stock at Next one time.  So, I made sure to mention my ability to position stock in a way that was appealing to customers, which shows my interest in the latest trends (etc.).  Turning seemingly small experiences into significant ones is something that helped me during my job hunt!

  1. Ask someone to check through your application.

You have probably heard lots of times throughout your degree that another pair of eyes will help you spot mistakes/typos in your work.  The same goes for job applications – employers may become disinterested if they see a grammar error or something misspelt.  The person checking may also be able to see if your wonderful personality shines through the application, or whether you should change the style of your writing.

  1. Remember to breathe before your interview.

No matter how many I’ve done, I’m always nervous before an interview.  I always try to remember that the interviewer is human and that they’re not there to trick you (if they are, maybe you shouldn’t work for them).  Pretend you’re going to have a conversation about your hobbies, personality and skills with your friend; even though it will be someone you’ve never met before.  And remember to take some deep breaths before entering the room – at the end of the day, you can always try again or apply somewhere else.

  1. If you don’t get the job, don’t worry!

Being rejected the first, second, or fortieth time is not a reflection of who you are as a person.  After all, you’re being questioned on one occasion, and the person has never met you before.  If you couldn’t get across what you wanted to say the first time, just remember to say it next time!  Being rejected from a job is not the end of the world, as there are much more important things.

 

I hope this post helped at least some of you remain calm during your job hunt!  Everything will work out in the end.