Insight From Your Fellow Student: Wok’ing Across Britain with FUN:) Healthy Chinese Cuisine Ambassadors

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Eliot Gee, MA Anthropology of Food (graduating 2017) discusses their time interning at Ming-Ai (London) Institute. 

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have expected to find myself standing in front of a dozen British teenagers at 9am on a Tuesday, explaining how to make sure a wok is hot enough to add oil (“Not olive oil; we want just enough neutral cooking oil to keep your protein from sticking”)… but now, it’s another day on the job!

1

The FUN:) Project visits schools across the U.K., inviting students to participate in quick, easy, and healthy cooking workshops. Since joining this summer, I’ve found that the work nicely complements my MA dissertation; my research interviews examined how Chinese food is perceived by migrants (specifically, how social and physical wellbeing are linked to food and generational memory), while classroom visits through FUN:) have shown me the day-to-day reality of Chinese food from the perspective of British schoolchildren.

Although South Asian food has been incorporated into the mainstream British taste at both high and low levels of cuisine, knowledge about Chinese food remains surprisingly limited beyond the performative fields of  Chinatown and TV cook shows. Likewise, students’ understanding of Chinese immigrants’ culture and history is limited; most don’t know there was any “relationship” between Britain and Hong Kong. Therefore, it’s been inspiring to see how projects like FUN:) help challenge the negative takeaway association surrounding Chinese food. Offering students the knowledge, taste, and skills to feel comfortable cooking simple Chinese dishes at home is a first step towards broadening their horizons and encouraging more meaningful discussion about the diversity of Chinese cuisine and culture. For example, during our presentation we ask students to guess why Cantonese food might be over-represented in the U.K.

Last year, FUN:) conducted 70 student demonstrations, visiting schools across London and as far away as Wales, Manchester, and Colchester. Cooking in so many kitchens with all different students is always fun (let’s be honest, there are plenty of puns thrown around. The name is supposed to reflect the Chinese word for rice)! Some students have never used a wok before, so even a simple stir-fry is an entirely new experience for them. At recent trip to a special needs school, I helped a boy who was too nervous to initially approach the hot wok… but by the end of an hour, he had cooked a brilliant kungpao chicken to bring home to his family. Compared to my prior experiences teaching language and history in Asian schools, I’ve found it very rewarding to see how hands-on activity can ground even the most “difficult” students and give them something to be proud of. This is in no small part due to the encouragement of their teachers, who are unfailingly friendly and generous with their time, and tea!

2

We also stay busy hosting free Teacher Training Workshops that encourage teachers to become “cuisine ambassadors” on our behalf, with the bonus opportunity of a cooking skills competition. FUN:)’s sponsor, the sauce brand Lee Kum Kee, invites the winning trio of teachers to Hong Kong and China, where they learn more about the food culture and exchange techniques at a culinary school. I can testify that this year they ate to their hearts’ content, since I had to edit all of the video footage upon their return!

3

Despite its wide reach, the project is very small, which means there is always a range of work to be done. Currently there are only two of us at the FUN:) office! Kelly, the project coordinator and a SOAS graduate, has been with the project for over a year and does a terrific job setting up demonstrations & workshops, and developing lesson plans (among a couple hundred other tasks). Much of my time has been devoted to updating our photo, video, and presentation material. I filmed, edited, and am currently uploading and writing descriptions for a series of cooking skills videos, available on our newly formed YouTube page for students and teachers. We are also rebooting our web presence– website, Instagram, Facebook– to best connect with interested would-be cooks.

4

FUN:) operates as part of Ming-Ai (London) Institute, located in North London. A perk of joining FUN:) is that Ming-Ai offers connections to many segments of the British-Chinese community, hosting events at our building that include calligraphy, talks, and language courses. Other projects include spreading knowledge about British-Chinese Armed Forces Heritage, and a MA Program in Chinese Cultural Heritage Management (through Middlesex University). It’s probably no surprise that many people who work here have passed through the SOAS China Institute at one point or another.

Despite being a relatively small organization, Ming-Ai has worked with high-profile groups and celebrities. FUN:) has connections with famous chefs Ken Hom, Ching-He Huang, and Andrew Wong, among others. Recently we helped with the Hong Kong Intangible Culture Festival, hosting Michelin-star dim sum chefs from Hong Kong at the Crowne Plaza to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, and are initiating an upcoming series of talks, cooking and paper-making workshops as part of a cultural exhibition next month at China Exchange (tucked away in the center of Chinatown).

For anybody interested in British-Chinese food culture, or building connections between the Chinese community and British schools, I strongly encourage looking into Ming-Ai’s opportunities. Both FUN:) and the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project are eager to have students join in either part-time or volunteer capacities. Head here for all the details!

Eliot Gee

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

Advertisements

Guest Blog: Starting your Career at a Startup

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

Stocksy_txp11bd75818iN100_Small_693768

Should I consider starting my career at a smaller company?

It may come as a surprise for the majority of you to learn that the percentage of graduates in the UK that end up working for one of the larger, well-known graduates is under 20%. So where are the rest of the job opportunities? 9/10 graduate jobs are currently found in startups and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises).

Although there are clear benefits to securing a place on a graduate scheme after leaving university (formal training opportunities, prestige, early earning potential), starting your career at a smaller company comes with a host of other benefits which corporates simply can’t offer first jobbers (high levels of responsibility and the chance to have an impact on the growth and development of the business).

To aid your decision on whether a graduate job at a startup or SME could be the right choice for you, here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

Am I good at taking on responsibility and managing my own time?

At a startup or SME you can expect to be given high levels of responsibility from the word go. Working in a small team also means that there’ll probably be nobody else in the company with the same skill set as you or doing the same thing as you. With little time for micromanaging, you’ll really be expected to take your own initiative and ownership over your work!

Am I creative and do I enjoy coming up with new ideas?

At a small company, with often a limited budget, it is common for situations to arise where a creative solution is needed! If you enjoy thinking on your feet and are keen to make proactive decisions to resolve an issue then this could well be the right environment for you to flourish in.

Do I have an interest in entrepreneurship?

Particularly at a startup, you’ll most likely be sitting across or even right next to the founders of the business. This gives you a unique opportunity to soak up all their knowledge and experience. This kind of exposure is especially valuable if you think you might like to start your own business one day.

Am I looking for a chance to develop a wide skill set?

Working as part of a small team usually means that you’ll be involved in several different functions within the company where you’ll pick up a whole new set of skills as you’ll really be expected to get stuck in and contribute. You’ll receive a huge education about how a business truly operates, which is harder to grasp when working in a single department of a larger company.

Am I looking for a relaxed environment and culture?

The atmosphere at a startup or SME is much more relaxed than at a corporate. There is usually no dress code and little hierarchy. You’ll get to know your co-workers quickly and team socials are common. Surrounded by creative and innovative people, it can be an inspiring work environment to be a part of.

This guest article has been written by Sophie Hudson, Head of Community at TalentPool – a recruitment platform matching recent graduates with job and internships opportunities in startups & SMEs.

Something for the Weekend: Creative Industries Week

9773714093_2c58c46238_b

Been inspired by Creative Industries Week at SOAS Careers? Embrace your creativity with these quotes to jumpstart your creative side!

Not sure how you want your next steps after to SOAS to look? Not to worry – come by SL57 and we can have a chat about where to even start thinking about the future.

Alexis Fromageot

Embracing Career Changes

4383221264_0efdfb700c_b

Not sure how your next steps will pan out after SOAS?

Don’t worry about having to stick to one solid plan, and get inspired by reading about one lady’s journey into law via a whole other career.

Take a look at the Career Planning section on MySOAS Student to get a better idea of you can start shaping your future – no matter where you end up!

Alexis Fromageot

 

 

 

 

What’s on this Week: Creative Industries Week

8385693926_04679b53bf_b

Dream of working within the creative world? This week SOAS Careers explores the varied routes in to this broad and engaging sector, with a wide range of great events throughout the week.

Not sure if creative industries is the one for you? Don’t worry – come by SL57 and we still offer our full range of services for you!

Mon 20 Feb, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: A Career in the Commercial Art World: http://bit.ly/2leb39b

Weds 22 Feb, 1:30 – 3pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: The Future of Work: http://bit.ly/2le1hni

Thurs 23 Feb, 5:30 – 7pm, G3, College Building: Careers in Muslims and Galleries: http://bit.ly/2lUQ7nj

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the Weekend: Reading Week

dream-1653652_960_720

Know exactly what you look for from movie night? Use your awesome taste in film to get an insight into your dream job!

Need more inspiration when thinking about your next steps? Come along to SOAS Careers in SL57 and we can talk through it all with you – from further study, travelling, internships to longer term work, we can help you get going!

Have  a great weekend and see you next week for Creative Industries Week!

Alexis Fromageot

 

Guest Blog: Advice on becoming self-employed straight out of university

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

ukiyo-e_museum_owner_and_sign

Becoming a self-employed worker straight out of university may sound like a daunting prospect. However, the number of graduates taking this route to work straight out of university is on the rise. Despite being your own boss, there is plenty of support available to you.

The number of self-employed workers is rising

The number of self-employed workers in the United Kingdom is rising, and it has been for some time. There were over 4.77 million self-employed workers in the United Kingdom in November 2016 – over 15% of the entire workforce. This is a 23% increase since 2008 (Office of National Statistics, 2016).

Graduates are contributing to the rise in the self-employed workforce

Interestingly, 87% of graduates with a second class or first class degree have thought about freelancing already and consider the gig economy as a “highly attractive and lucrative career option”. 29% of students who have not graduated yet have considered becoming a freelancer within 5 years of completing their university studies, according to Elance (Elance, 2013).

Why are so many people turning to self-employment?

There is a number of reasons why people are becoming self-employed. Some of the main ones are as follows:

  • If a contract does not go as planned, you can decline future offers from the client.
  • You are in a position to negotiate terms – if there are specific conditions you require, let your client know at the stage of negotiation.
  • Contractors usually earn more money than full-time employees.
  • Working with a variety of clients will help develop your skills.
  • If you are able to have some spare time, you can learn new skills and develop your knowledge. There is an opportunity to become an expert in your field and earn a well-respected reputation.
  • You will avoid the dreaded office politics.
  • You are presented with an opportunity to grow your own business.
  • If you don’t like contracting – don’t worry! If you decide that you no longer want to be a contractor then it is easy to close your limited company (if you decide to operate through one) and look for a full-time role.

If you are self-employed, how do you get paid?

Typically, the self-employed operate in two ways, through their own limited company or through an umbrella company. There are advantages for both of these options.

Being paid through an umbrella company eliminates the large amount of paperwork that a self-employed worker could potentially face if operating through their own limited company (personal service company). If you choose to work through an umbrella company, you effectively become an employee of the umbrella and will receive the same pay as an employee in a full-time position. The umbrella company will make the correct tax and National Insurance Contributions to HMRC on your behalf. You will be entitled to Holiday Pay, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay. Whilst an easy way to operate as self-employed, working through an umbrella is not the most tax efficient.

If you are looking to legally maximise your take-home pay in full compliance with HMRC, setting up your own limited company may be the perfect solution. By running your own limited company, you will become the director and can appoint yourself as a shareholder. Then you are able to pay yourself legally with a combination of salary and dividends. It is also the most professional way to present yourself in front of prospective clients. Whilst there is a large amount of paperwork involved, you can select a contractor accountant that will provide assistance with this, making your life easier.

To compare the difference in take-home pay between setting up your own limited company and using an umbrella company, you can request a personal calculation using a contractor calculator.

What should you look for from a contractor accountant?

  • They should be specialists
  • They should be accredited by reputable industry bodies (such as APSCo and Professional Passport)
  • They should be fully compliant with HMRC legislation
  • They should make their terms incredibly clear (for example, is there a tie in period?)
  • Their solution should match your requirements
  • They should offer you extra (for example, an online portal for your convenience)
  • They should have experts ready to answer your calls and emails
  • They should provide continued support throughout the setup and running of your limited company

Finding your first role as a self-employed worker

Finding your first role as a self-employed worker may sound scary. However, there is a lot of support and help available. The number of recruitment agencies is always on the rise and there are specialist businesses that exclusively focus on finding work for the self-employed. Don’t forget to make sure you have an updated LinkedIn profile and you are connecting with the right people (recruitment agencies, potential clients etc.). Have a look on local forums – are there any events that you can attend as a networker?

It is always a great idea to ask the people close to you for advice. Do any of your friends or family members know people that can help you? As a student, your university will provide careers assistance – get in touch with them to find out how they can help and support you.

If you are looking at becoming self-employed straight out of university – best of luck!

This guest article has been written by Andrew Trodden, Marketing Executive at Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd – specialist contractor accountants

Want to earn £50pm vlogging while you look for a job?

‘The Great Grad Job Hunt’ is a project created by The Careers Group, University of London, that follows the process of job-hunting for final year students, Master’s students and 2016 graduates.

Through the use of videos, the project documents real life experiences and peer-to-peer examples of searching for a job. As well as including expert advice; job hunters from around the world can access information – tips and tricks from fellow students, graduates, consultants and employers that will help them score their dream career.

The project is looking for enthusiastic people who will be committed to documenting their job-hunting process on video through the following months. With help from our dedicated team, students and graduates will help each other and use expert advice to help them find a job best suited to their needs.

This is a great opportunity for those who wish to help others and contribute their own experiences for students/graduates who are in a similar position. Students and graduates taking part will receive:
          Life skills useful to any career role 
–          £50 a month for submitting at least 2 vlogs a month
–          Extra support from The Careers Group and Careers Consultants

Don’t worry if you haven’t decided what you want to do yet. We want to document this process also and we will help you with your decision making.

Please note that applications for this round close at 11:59pm on 6th February 2017. APPLY NOW!

Email if you have any further questions.

Alexis Fromageot

Guest Blog: Why work at a Start-up?

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

startup-photos

Deciding what to do after University is a daunting decision and one that many students can take a long time to decide upon. The usual path for most students is to take the corporate option however one option that often gets overlooked is considering a career in a startup.

Here are 5 unique challenges and opportunities within a digital start-up:

1- IMPACT

Feeling your work have a real impact on the business is a wonderful feeling: one that drives people, helps them cope, or just brightens their day. The application of your skills and knowledge is satisfying and being able to see a positive change in the business from it is incredibly uplifting.

2- Freedom
The flexibility of work life whilst being part of a close knit team is a great asset to startups. You won’t be shackled to a desk in stuffy clothes: You will be , in some cases literally, bouncing ideas off each other. It allows plenty of in-office fun which you definitely wouldn’t get as part of a large corporation.

3- Learning
There is almost constant learning as you expand your range or master your depths. It is always a fresh challenge to figure out the latest software and master it. As your confidence grows, people will come to depend on you. You will be a sought after individual as a master of a field.

4- Creativity

Finding interesting pathways to success is a key aspect of being an entrepreneur, so long as corners aren’t cut, then it will generally work out. Thinking outside the box and defying expectations are great ways to gain credibility as an innovator. My personal advice is that a collection of novel ideas is better than one generic view.


5- Responsibility
Having the opportunity to be part of something incredible comes with responsibility. You are trusted to perform because you want the business to do well, not for your next paycheck. You gotta believe, Que the X-files.

Whether you are starting a business with friends, or just looking for exciting opportunities; it’s an awesome place to be.

Guest blog by: Austin, Marketing assistant at ClickMechanic. The business has been operating since 2012, with huge growth and success, as they offer the digital solution to car repairs. A walk back from the garage in the rain has been transformed to feet up on the sofa with your car fixed right on your drive.

What’s on this Week: Postgraduate Study Week

4371644506_17526e9bbb_b

This week at SOAS Careers is all about supporting you with Postgraduate Study!

Come along to our whole host of events designed to help you with funding, applications and everything else related to Postgraduate Study. Get involved!

Mon 21 Nov 5.30 – 7pm, B111: Working for Adam Smith International with Zane Kanderian: http://bit.ly/2fji9HQ

Tues 22 Nov 10 – 12.30pm, Careers Service (SL57): Mock Interview Session with SOAS Alumni: http://bit.ly/2gdVMSY

Tues 22 Nov 12.30 – 1.30pm, Caeers Service (SL57): What I Wish I’d Known with James Thorpe: http://bit.ly/2g8Xe7V

Tues 22 Nov 3 – 4.30pm, Careers Learning Space (next to SL57): Teach First Leadership & Development Presentation: http://bit.ly/2gdTDHe

Wed 23 Nov 1.30 – 3pm, S118: Post Graduate Opportunities & Funding: http://bit.ly/2fx0JFi

Thurs 24 Nov 12.30 – 1.30pm, Caeers Service (SL57): What I Wish I’d Known with Aji Unni: http://bit.ly/2fjhjLu

Thurs 24 Nov 5.30 – 7pm, KLT: Financial Planning and Wealth Management with CII: http://bit.ly/2gBneOr

See you there!