Author Archives: Allie Burnett

headphones

Music to my ears!

Second year student Harvey shares the best music to revise and study to:

‘Hi, I’m Harvey, a second year Marketing student at the Canterbury campus. I have a secret; I have never studied for an exam in my life. I completely winged it through my GCSEs and got some undeservingly good results; followed by promptly failing my AS levels. Coupled with my first-year exams being online, open book and fairly straight forward, I have never had to do a ‘late night exam study sesh’. With second year exams looming, which are distinctly harder and need a lot more reading to pass, I thought it’s finally time I actually learned how to revise.

‘Plus, with COVID-19 I also have to share the office with my Dad who is on calls all day, every day. So, I turned to my hilariously diametric Spotify to keep me focused and see what music would get me studying best. Oh, and naturally being a data specialist, I did it scientifically through controlled variables and quantitative analysis. Seeing as I know mostly anyone reading this has no interest in that, I have included a “study score” as an amalgamation of how well each genre performed, which, of course, is completely subjective.

Classical

‘Lauded by many as the premier thing to play children in the womb, or the perfect accompaniment to a peaceful evening reading a textbook, classical music is the stereotypical study soundtrack. Perhaps to the dismay of my classically trained musician Dad, I never have showed a great amount of interest in ‘the classics’, but I thought now might be the time to invest in some enculturation.

‘I chose the aptly named “Classical Focus” from Spotify’s official playlists for my first experiment. Encompassing composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, it features all the works I probably should have studied while I was doing my short-lived music degree but didn’t.

‘Classical music has the ability to make you feel smarter while you’re listening to it. It also generally doesn’t have vocals, unless we’re getting into choral works. So you supposedly have less to distract you, according to some (especially my Dad) “it is terrible to focus with music with words, it distracts you! I could not play that in the office!”

‘After using the playlist for a good hour I found it to be a mixed bag. Perhaps this is just personal taste, but I found it hard to focus on the particularly dry article I was reading with anything aside from piano music. Although orchestral works are impressive, and I have been lucky enough to see this in person a handful of times, I find they’re too busy and complex to focus on the task at hand. Even with piano music I was finding myself encountering a déjà vu of melodies I’d heard on adverts or TV shows from across the years; so I found myself pretending I could play the piano, perhaps in a vain attempt to pretend I knew more than I actually do.

‘I think classical music has the ability to be a deeply relaxing and spiritual listening experience, if the right piece appears. As a study tool? I’m less convinced. Maybe if you’re less of a musical person than I am you’ll find it appropriate background listening for an afternoon of reading and revising; if so, I particularly recommend the works of Chopin or the various other pianists and piano playlists available on Spotify. For me, it was time to explore what’s next.

Study score: 3/5

Drum and Bass/EDM

‘What a juxtaposition! From the realms of the concert hall, my next stop was the substantially more modern field of the synthesiser. I’ll be honest, I am very biased – my favourite band is Pendulum (the Australian drum and bass outfit who were popular in the late 2000s). However, bias aside (ok maybe not), I wanted to see how this eclectic musical umbrella fared when I was working.

‘As previously mentioned, this is probably the music I use most while studying. Generally, it is my aptly titled ‘Pendulum’ playlist that I will put on although I also have “Straight bangers, no re”, titled (hopefully ironically) a few years ago with a fairly broad range from the electronic side of music.

‘Personally, I find that depending on my mood, the heavier the better when it comes to writing those essays that ‘you really should have done three weeks ago but now its due tomorrow’, however, as this is an exercise in mainly reading, it’s time to test it in that respect.

‘Again – like classical music – I feel that a lot of electronic, especially drum and bass, has way too much going on to enable you to properly focus on reading. Although, for me I think I like the songs enough that I can tune a lot of the song out, and it’s good for getting rid of the distractions that permeate the estate I live on. As a way to digest material I am not familiar with? I’m less convinced. If we liken it to having a rave with a textbook it’s very similar, I simultaneously wanted to fall asleep and party at the same time. Writing up notes was a different story. I found, especially Pendulum as it’s more melodic (and as we know I am very biased), or anything similar was very good for driving me forward and keeping me energised.

‘So, in conclusion, it’s a great way to get you energised, especially if you’re doing the type of work where you just need to get pen to paper – a bit like this article (this is exactly how I’m writing this segment!) However, I think on our search to find the right accompaniment for all the read I am sure many of us need to catch up on, we need to look a bit further!

Study score: 2/5

Chill/Acoustic

‘When I first heard this kind of music non-ironically, I remember I was driving to work on a cold morning as the sun rose; a fairly beautiful scene that I felt relaxed me into what was a pretty stressful job at the time. Nowadays, I have a dedicated “Chill Stuff” playlist for when I’m not in the mood for anything heavy. The music I am talking about here is the kind that doesn’t try to shout loudly, or invest you with intricate melodies; although it must be said I can’t listen to it if I’m particularly emotional, I do not need more reasons to cry while revising for exams!

‘It is a very wide spectrum, especially if you’re looking at Spotify’s pre-made playlists; which vary from electronic to acoustic guitars and even hip-hop. I found these playlists to be very hit-and-miss if I am honest. Although some things I am sure I could play in the background to a cute date night, others seemed to be very loose in their affiliation to “chill” (angry psychedelic-synth playlist, anyone?), and others still just are a bit plain weird (Cat Jazz is my mum’s favourite to wheel out at family dinners); therefore, I think it’s important to clarify what I found myself drawn to.

‘Personally, and given my usual taste I have no idea why, I found myself rather enjoying the most stripped-back guitar and vocal music I could find. I think it is a certain honesty that brought me away from all of the stresses I was experiencing and into the moment (very mindful, I know). From there I was able to look clearly at what I was studying and feel I was taking in information and working with more clarity. If we want to be philosophical, maybe it is this kind of music that makes you realise how fast-paced and hectic life can be unless you take time to focus on the now – how thoughtful, right?

‘In conclusion, I probably found this the most helpful of all the music I listened to in terms of helping me focus on reading. There is a caveat that there is a lot of terrible music branding itself as “chill”. However, whether it is the classic “chill beats to study to” I am sure many of us have used in the past, or simplistic guitar and vocal performances I enjoy, I think personally it is the perfect music to focus to and digest a difficult reading!’

Study Score: 5/5

Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

women sat smiling at laptop

Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS): Appointments

Over the Easter break why not take advantage of SLAS and get on top of:

  • planning and revising for your exams including developing revision and exam techniques
  • developing your maths, financial maths and statistical knowledge in time for exams
  • developing and completing assignments including dissertations

You can either book an appointment online, visit our website or email learning@kent.ac.uk

support

Complete the Student Support and Wellbeing Survey – you might win £50!

We hope that you’ve benefitted from Student Support and Wellbeing services in the past year if you’ve needed them.

To help us understand ways to further improve our offering to meet your ongoing needs, we’d be really grateful if you could spend just 5 minutes answering a survey on your experience and preferences for accessing support.

Take the survey online now, and you’ll automatically be entered into a prize draw to win one of four £50 Love2Shop vouchers which can be spent online on a huge range of things from food, to clothing, technology, sports equipment, DIY and outdoor supplies.

The survey closes on Tuesday 4 May and prize winners will be contacted by Friday 7 May.

red sticker with the text 'I voted'

Thursday 6 May 2021 is Election Day!

Kent County Council and Police & Crime Commissioner elections are taking
place on Thursday 6 May.

You need to be registered to vote in order to participate and vote at these elections and the deadline to do this is midnight on 19 April.

 

If you are a student living at your term-time address in the Canterbury area,
you may be able to register to vote from your home and term-time address.
(Students need to re-register from their term-time address each academic
year).

Please click on this link to find out more about the benefits of registering to vote.

To register to vote please visit gov.uk/register-to-vote or call 01227 862007.

If you have any questions or if you are not sure whether you are entitled to register to vote, please email us at electoral.services@canterbury.gov.uk

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

Students on grass at Canterbury campus

What Covid-19 rules are changing from 29 March?

On Monday 29 March we move into the next stage of the Government’s easing of lockdown – but was does that mean for you?

Here is a quick summary of the changes:

  • The rule of 6 returns
    You may meet outdoors, including in private gardens, with 5 other people not in your household (the ‘Rule of 6’) or as 2 households. Indoor socialising is still not permitted.
  • Kent Sport will start to reopen for outdoor sport
    You may take part in outdoor sporting activities including team sports. The planned reopening of our sports facilities is outlined on our Kent Sport website.
  • ‘Stay at home’ rule ends
    The ‘stay at home’ rule ends on 29 March however please continue to minimise travel where you can.

Please see our recent student email for full details.

Get tested for Covid-19 and get a free coffee

If you’re using University facilities, please continue to get regular asymptomatic Covid-19 tests. And to say thanks, we are giving students on our Canterbury campus a free hot drink.

Find out more and book a test.

Simple workspace

Autistics at work!

Hey! I’m Harvey, I’m a second year marketing student at Kent who was diagnosed with Autism in 2019. Prior to coming to university at 21 I was in the world of work, unknowingly autistic so I thought I could share some tips with you about work and job hunting, whether you’re autistic or have another disability or condition that affects your work. 

Know yourself

Firstly, and for me since being diagnosed the most important tip, is knowing yourself. For me personally I know I can be overwhelmed by a lack of routine or lack of control, so I know that I can’t work in London because the idea of the tube and its loud crowded environment causes me anxiety and I can’t escape it easily. Therefore, for my year in industry I deliberately chose a scheme that was not in London, although I was very lucky my dream scheme wasn’t there anyway! 

The moral of this story for me is to know what you can and can’t do. There is a lot of media today that will tell you you’re unlimited and can do anything, which is true in principle, but it doesn’t mean you should be upset if you make the choice to do or not do something because it wouldn’t work for you. The quicker I reconciled with myself what I wanted and that it was OK the better I felt about myself.

Reasonable adjustments

When It comes to applying you have a right by law to reasonable adjustments, which means throughout the application, interview and in your job your employer must make reasonable adjustments to your work and workspace to ensure you are not discriminated against. You also have the right to disclose or not your disability. Personally for me I always disclose because legally it cannot affect your application. 

The things I normally say is “I am Autistic and sometimes I can’t make eye contact with you, I might go off on a little tangent as well so try and be precise with your questions!”. Or perhaps there is a chance you could slowly get used to the environment if that is something you need? Being able to spend a couple of hours getting to know the layout, people and space might increase your confidence and help to settle you in!

A word of warning!

If the employer does not or cannot accommodate your disability, they might not be the right one for you. Sadly, even today a lot of employers do not understand disability. Personally, I have had a lot of people not quite understand the way my mind works, not maliciously but perhaps a manager may get annoyed by how literally I word things, or I want very detailed instructions. It is up to you to judge on a case-by-case basis but be wary and don’t be afraid to raise the question and have suggestions how they can use your skills best! But don’t feel it is your fault if you encounter issues, I was very hard on myself for a while before I knew I had autism and instead of chastising myself I reflected on what I could have done better, but also accepted when it wasn’t my fault.

Have self-confidence

Another tip that I have is, just because you don’t fit one criteria doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply! Any reasonable employer should know that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist and so as long as you think you’re able to do the job and can show them what have you got to lose by applying? I personally have applied to and even got jobs that I didn’t think I was qualified for or didn’t meet every criteria on the description, so my best tip here is to have confidence in yourself! 

Like anything at University of Kent, there is so many resources available to help you. Never be afraid to reach out to the Student Support and Wellbeing Team or the Careers Team where you can get dedicated one-to-one support on any questions or issues you might have around disability and employment.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on unsplash.

Video call

Top 5 tips for finding experience at university

Hi! I’m Harvey, I’m a second year University of Kent student studying Marketing. I came to university a little later at 21 so I’ve worked in a few places before and during uni so far.

So, I thought I’d share my tips for finding experience and making the most of it at university.

Where to look?

For placements such as a Year in Industry I’d recommend sites like Target jobs, the University website, RateMyPlacement, Indeed or other job hunting websites.

If you’re like me and are doing a placement as part of your degree, or even would just like something like a summer internship there are loads of experiences available on these sites. My advice would be if you want to work with a big company then you need to look early in the academic year between September and December, but a lot of opportunities will be available throughout the year. It is important to check at least once every couple of days, as sometimes being in there early is what might get you to the next stage, especially if the company gets a lot of applications!

Although COVID-19 is affecting the part-time job market, currently a lot of food retailers are crying out for staff. During the first peak I was able to secure a driving job at Tesco without an interview. Especially if you’re willing to be a picker at supermarkets (which unfortunately can mean a 4am start!) there is plenty of experience. Although currently a lot of retail outlets are closed you may be able to get experience if you think outside the box. Perhaps being a COVID tester may work for you?

Another great resource we have at the university is the Careers and Employability Service. This is how I got my job as a project officer. I have the opportunity to gain professional skills and enhance my confidence in a controlled environment where it is fine to ask questions and be unsure! The team are really friendly and willing to answer any of your questions so why not have a look at TargetConnect (and look regularly because there’s always new experiences appearing!).

Finally, Send an email! Why not contact local companies offering to do some work for free? They might appreciate the extra help and you can gain insight into a field of interest as well as adding to your CV!

Don’t rule out SMEs!

Placements at big firms are great but smaller companies or (SMEs) may offer you a greater amount of responsibility. Whereas at large companies you may be responsible for your own little slice of the business, often working with SMEs can mean you are responsible for the entire department such as marketing or finance for the time you are there. For example, Aiden, a Kent student who did an internship at Medway Council during the summer in 2019 through the Employability Points Scheme, was given responsibility for a national project on rough sleeping in the UK. Not only is that great to put on a CV but is a really worthwhile experience too!

I want to highlight the Employability Points Scheme we have here at the university. This is a great place to bank up points and redeem them for potential rewards including internships and summer placements! Having engaged with the scheme myself I can attest that they’re really supportive and friendly and will endeavour for you to get the best reward possible! There’s loads of things on offer from small day-long courses on interviewing and assessment centres, to work experience and all the way up to 3 month summer internships at a variety of different companies like the one I just mentioned!

Do your prep work and ask for help!

Once you’ve found that dream job and sent off a blinding application you hopefully will get a request to interview. But first you need to prepare! Here is a few tips to make sure you walk in with the best chance possible.

  1. If you know the person who is interviewing/reading the application search them up! If you can find a common connection (or even better what they’re passionate about) then remember it and bring it up in a way that seems like a coincidence! 
  2. It seems obvious but make sure you research the company, what do they do? What makes them unique? Knowing this information will make you stand out in interview as someone who is serious about the job and you will feel more confident going into an interview.
  3. Create a network. Today it may not matter but by the end of university you may be able to call on connections for work, and hey knowing more people can’t hurt right? When I was asked to interview for my placement year at a large car maker I found someone who had been there the year before and talked to them, asking about the assessment process and the type of things they might want to hear at interview. In the end this increased my confidence massively going into the assessment centre and I got the job!
  4. As always, it never hurts to make a careers appointment if you want your CV or covering letter for a job checked, or any other advice related to careers. The team really have helped me to get where I want, and they couldn’t be more helpful! Visit the Careers and Employability Service website to book appointments, find events and links to their social media.

Interviewing

Interviews are scary for everyone! Whether it is a good or a bad thing I have done many since I started looking for work in 2017 so I have a few tips for making sure you show your best!

  1. Be yourself! They’re hiring the person not the CV, if you judge the situation well and are able to be personable and friendly it will make you more memorable than if you’re frowning and being monosyllabic!
  2. Remember, read the job description, know the company and what they might want to ask you about, have examples!
  3. Everything is an experience, even if you don’t get it, it doesn’t mean you wont get something and you’ll be able to learn from it for next time!
  4. If you’re nervous, at this level remember everyone will be, they’re not looking for perfect just a willingness to learn and maybe some evidence to back it up (like maybe a uni project you’re proud of) they want to learn about you as much as you about them

Every experience is valid

Whether it is volunteering to pick up litter or working for an international bank, any experience you can gain is good experience! Don’t write off an internship because it is at a small company or unpaid because at the least you’ll learn the soft skills classrooms can’t teach and if you make a good enough impression, who knows, you may even be offered a permanent role! Some companies, especially evident on the Employability Points scheme, have been known to take on interns permanently, Including Reflect Digital and TMLEP who have both taken on multiple interns from Employability Points full time! Again check out the Employability Points Scheme

To be anecdotal: I think of experiences like building a pyramid out of blocks… The first experiences form your foundations and a solid base to add more blocks onto. Likewise you can’t start at the top of the pyramid because there is nothing to support it!

census-on-phone

Census Day was 21 March, but you still have time to complete your census form now

Wherever you are, whether in halls, living in a shared house, living with your parents or guardians, or are an international student – all students are an important part of the census and must be included. Don’t worry – it’s a simple form that you complete online, your data is confidential and it only takes ten minutes per person.

If you already have your code and know what to do, click here to complete.

If you are living in University accommodation or at Pier Quays, you can collect your letter with your access code from your accommodation’s reception now.
Why is it important for you, as a student, to fill in the census?

To recap, the census is an important national survey that takes place every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. By taking part, you’ll be helping make sure you and your student community get the services needed now and in the future. The information you give informs decisions that affect student life, such as university campus bus links and bike lanes, jobs and training. Therefore, it is key that you complete the form for your university address.

How do I complete?

If you’re currently living at your university address, you should have received a letter containing an access code made up of numbers and letters to complete the census online. Click here to complete using your code now. You can also request a new one online if you have lost or cannot access your code. Your code will be sent via SMS.

We understand your circumstances may have changed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you are not currently living at your university address and cannot get your access code, you need to request a new one online. Your code will be sent via SMS.

If you’re currently living at home, you need to be included on your household census questionnaire as well as completing one for your university address.

You can find more information on how to complete based on where you are living here, covering the below living situations:

  • Students at home or elsewhere due to the pandemic
  • Students living in a shared house or flat
  • Students living in halls of residence
  • International students
  • Students living permanently at home during university with no separate university address

Support

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to take part. For more information on the census, or if you need help, go to the census website. There are a wide range of services available, including translations and accessible guidance.

Thank you for your help in taking part in Census 2021.

man running

Student blog: Building resilience

Kent student William shares his top three tips to help you build resilience.

‘Graduating and finishing studying in the middle of a global pandemic can seem daunting, however, there are methods and mindsets to deal with the increased uncertainty when looking for graduate employment or perusing postgraduate courses.

‘Applying for graduate jobs and waiting to hear the outcome can be stressful. Developing methods and strategies to deal with this is a great skill to have. There are three key things I personally hold key to resilience: perspective, mindset, and physical wellbeing.

‘In this blog I will talk about how these three elements help me to be more resilient, with my studies and applying to jobs.

  1. Perspective

‘This is what I like to call ‘looking out’, understanding that companies maybe taking longer to process an application, due to a lower number of staff working and more applications. Looking externally at things beyond your control can help understand why things can be taking longer. Equally, looking in is just as important. If when applying to a job it comes back with unsuccessful, looking at the reasons why and think I can use this to improve. Taking the view that it was not a failure but something to learn from and there will be future opportunities, this is a longer time perspective, looking forward. Steve jobs once said, “you can only connect the dots looking back”.

  1. Mindset

‘Mindset is one of the biggest points of resilience. It is how you process a blow or set back. I try and use every job rejection as an indication that maybe I was not right for that role and I would not have enjoyed it. I follow a similar outlook on university work, if I get piece of work back that I am not happy with I use the feedback to better prepare for future essays and talk to academic staff about the feedback. This allows me to use it as a learning experience and not feel negative. This leads me into my next point of mindset, that also is closely aligned with perspective, letting things that are out of my control go. If I have applied to a job and been unsuccessful, I take that and move on and, it is out of my control and focus on what is next. A job or postgraduate application rejection can be very hard to take but putting it behind you and thinking ‘I did all I could’, then looking for new opportunities is just as important. This for me is a way of picking myself up and moving forward, a way of feeling I am progressing, ensuring that I do not let a job or postgrad application derail me from other things.

  1. Wellbeing

‘The final of my three points is physical wellbeing, for me this is really important with the other two areas that make my resilience. During lockdown many of us have become used to a daily walk, me included. Before the pandemic I was always interested in fitness and the connection between physical and mental health. I found when I was most active, I was doing well in most other areas of life. During the first lockdown, I started my day off with a long walk or run. The action of just being outdoors really helped set up the rest of my day. This then allowed me to have a set time of day to think about and manage the stress and anxiety of any jobs I was applying for. It also meant that I felt healthy physically and this does wonders for my mental health. I feel like I have more capacity to deal with things if I keep my physical wellbeing. This means it can be easier to process setbacks and deal with them and get back up from them.

‘In this blog I outlined how I have improved my resilience. However, the University’s Careers and Employability Service runs frequent sessions on building resilience, these are aimed at those seeking employment and how to manage stress in the recruiting process.’

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

To do list

Student blog: tips for your final year

Kent student Aleeya shares her advice for current final year students.

‘Being in your final year can be a very confusing time in your life. You are going through a bunch of emotions that include nervousness, uncertainty and questions about your ability when entering the working world.

‘With this blog post, I hope to be able to sympathise with what you are going through now, as a student myself, as well as give you enough information so that you can go out and receive the resources that can help you on your journey to success.

Focus on what you can do

‘With Covid-19 and the current situation that we are all in, it is important that you do not get discouraged. Moods can be overall low, but that does not mean that your self-worth should go down as well.

‘Applying for industrial placements and graduate schemes can be a great way to start thinking about your skills and experience.

‘From my personal experience, I went into many applications thinking that I was not qualified, the more time I spent on a specific application, the more and more I became discouraged. There can be a thought that it is something that has to be done for your future to be secure, but this feeling can be so weighing that it can cause you to lose sight of what you are good at.

‘My one piece of advice for this particular feeling is to look at the job specification and write down things that you think you can offer to the company before you even start your application. This can either help you feel confident with yourself before applying and thus make you do your best when you are applying, or you can see if there is anything that you can improve on in the field that you want to go into, thus preparing for when another listing appears.

Grow your skills

‘With finding things that you need to improve on, the TargetJobs site that the University works with gives a list of events that are happening throughout the term which can give you more information about the working world as well as expand your knowledge with the Study Plus sessions. With these you have a chance to ask questions to professionals working at the university.

Get advice

‘If you are a bit more unsure about your career path go to the Careers and Employability Service. Even though you may have heard this advice plenty of times, there is a reason. From my experience the Careers Service gives me that extra step that I needed to find industries that I am interested in and gives me things that I need to improve on. They also care enough to do some of the research with you in the background, so that when you go back to them for more insight they will be able to focus on your needs specifically. It can be daunting to talk to someone about something that you are unsure about yourself, but it will be incredibly helpful if you visit them once, just to check if you are on the right path, or just for some confirmation on if you are doing things right.

Don’t let your stress get out of control – get help first

‘Exam preparation as well as dissertation writing can be another thing that is causing many of us to stress. These feelings are valid, but there comes a point where these feelings can be changing our focus from things that are important. When these feelings get all consuming, it is important for you to reach out for help. Luckily, the university provides many services that can help you navigate these feelings. The most recommended one is the Student Wellbeing Service.

‘Before this post turns into a diatribe of my experiences and what I have learnt. The message that I want to convey is that we all can get through this, and when we do, we will be stronger than ever. Use the resources that are out there to put your mind at ease and remember you are not alone. The University is here to support you in your final year and beyond.’