#MondayMotivation: Taking On Procrastination

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Procrastination: the (ig)noble art of putting off till tomorrow something that should have been done yesterday; of shelving something important until it becomes compellingly urgent and (often) impossible to fulfil. You know the feeling: rather than studying, Facebook seems fascinating, Instagram alluring. Seduced by Snapchat, wooed by WhatsApp. Any diversion will do.

What type of procrastinator are you?

Have a go on this useful little quiz, providing you use it as an enabling strategy, rather than a method of – yes – procrastination. Mainly we delay doing things because they appear difficult or tedious, or we lack confidence in our ability to accomplish them successfully. This is the perception – it may not be the reality.

A few of the most common, and least convincing, reasons for procrastination

“I work best under pressure”. Hoary old chestnut, best summed up by one word. Hokum. Will you really do better in a state of sheer panic overlaid with a surplus of stress?

“It’s hard / boring / complicated”. So how is deferring going to make it easier?

“I’ll put it on my list.” Sounds organised, but often involves postponing the urgent by focusing on the unnecessary. However, ticking off the less onerous items can psyche you up for something more demanding or free up space for more pressing matters.

A tried and tested technique

Thinking about the consequences of delay can have a negative outcome e.g. if I don’t finish this assignment, I will get a poor grade, then an indifferent degree, so I won’t get a job. It’s called catastrophising, and is counterproductive. Better to always look on the bright side of life. Think instead of the positive effects of taking action.

How does this relate to careers? Abraham Lincoln’s view was that “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Tough words, Abe.  Tough, but true. And nowhere more so than when it comes to careers thinking, planning and action.

Procrastination about your career means that you:

  • risk graduating with nowhere to go
  • may miss out on your favourite option (because application deadlines are sometimes set so far ahead of graduation, you almost have to put your name down at birth)
  • will spend valuable time filling in forms / sending off CVs which don’t pass muster, or enduring tests, interviews and assessments for which you are ill-prepared, hence unlikely to succeed.

Procrastination = WASTED EFFORT.

There is no Careers Fairy. Lengthy legwork is necessary and can be time-consuming and monotonous. Nothing, from staking out your future to fine-tuning a CV, can be dashed off in an evening – it all requires research, reflection and review.

Remember:

  • you needn’t do it all at once. Carve a seemingly insurmountable task, such as researching a particular company, into smaller chunks.  Slow but steady.
  • contrary to Julie Andrews’ advice you don’t have to start at the very beginning. If it’s less taxing, commence an application, for instance, in the middle or even at the end.

Now stop reading this and start checking out that career. You’ll thank me for it later.

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: Taking Care of Yourself at Work

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Mental Health in the workplace is frequently written about, and increasingly becoming part of wellbeing initiatives in many organisations.

Starting out your career, either in an internship or your first job, can sometimes present challenges to mental health. Change in a variety form is never easy and uncertainty can manifest itself in a number of ways, from mild to severe. We’ve put together some suggestions on how you can prioritise your wellbeing and mental health when starting a new opportunity, whether something fixed term like a summer internship, or more permanent like your first role after graduation.

Plan out your basic routine for the first couple of weeks

Starting a new role will likely mean some changes to your normal daily routine. You might be waking up earlier, travelling to a new location and more than likely meeting a whole range of new people in a short space of time.

Planning out a routine and doing a dry run a couple of times before might help with this. In particular, getting a decent amount of sleep might mean an earlier night than usual to begin with to make up for the earlier start. Get familiar with how you’re travelling to work as well, and if you’re relying on public transport, have a plan B figured out.

We’d also recommend taking your own lunch and a couple of snacks for the first few days as you’re settling in to your new role. This is just in case you get stuck for food options or find yourself rushing around and not getting a decent break to begin with.

Prioritise time to collate your thoughts

When you first start a new role, you’ll be adapting to a variety of factors. Getting to know new colleagues, the workplace, the local area and the workplace jargon will take time. Giving yourself the time to take it all in is important.

Whether you taking lists and notes to memorise everything you’re learning or if you use other methods, take the time to reflect on what you learn as well. If you’re able to block out short amounts of time to review your notes and think through your interactions, you’ll hopefully assemble a sense of who does what, and how their roles relate to you. This might also help you to plan out any projects or tasks that you’re anticipating, so you know who to go to.

Ask questions

Whilst you might feel conscious about not knowing everything, the truth is nobody knows everything about their workplace. Asking for support or to find out information is a normal part of every job. If you don’t know who to speak to, ask a colleague with more experience to see who they would recommend. It can feel quite isolated if you have a lot of questions that are hindering your first couple of weeks in a new job, but engaging with your team will hopefully help you to feel more comfortable in the workplace.

Make time for your own wellbeing

Having a new job can be a fantastic experience. There can however be a number of times when through various pressures of the role, you have less time for everything you need to get done. Whilst this isn’t unusual, first and foremost you should always prioritise your own wellbeing.

Alongside the examples we’ve highlighted, we would also suggest the following:

Make time to be active – Physical activity has been proven to have positive effects on mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s a walk at lunchtime, a run at some point in the day, cycling to work or taking up something new like kayaking or rock climbing, there are a variety of ways to keep active. Your new employer might even have staff teams for football, rugby, netball or societies for tennis, badminton etc. Other than the physical and health benefits, there’s also the opportunity to enhance your social life through sports and related activities.

Get enough sleep – Various studies in the last 10 years have highlighted the need for around 7-8 hours of sleep to help the body recover. If you find that you are struggling to sleep, try to work out what’s keeping you awake. This might require a conversation with your doctor if there are serious reasons for a lack of sleep.

Socialise – It’s important to spend time with other people that help you to feel positive and energised. Whether that’s going out with your new colleagues, catching up with friends and family, making time for your social life can be an important factor in maintaining your own wellbeing.

Disclosure of mental health in the workplace

Deciding on what to disclose to your workplace, manager(s) and colleagues is a personal choice. Depending on the nature of any challenges that you have with your mental health, you may feel more or less inclined to share your challenges.

Time-to-change.org have some helpful tips that may help to guide you through your decisions.

Further information about managing your mental health and wellbeing can be found from the following links:

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

#TuesdayThoughts: This is the Week You Get Inspired

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The sun is shining, which can only mean one thing – it must be revision time… While the summer weather can make it even harder to get motivated to actually open a book, the good news is that SOAS Careers is running some awesome networking style events this week to get you pumped for whatever the future might hold.

There’s no denying that this can be a full-on time, so treat yourself to a (small!) break and come along to one of our awesome events this week, meet some inspiring alumni from this great Uni & recharge yourself…

 

  • Academic Careers Networking Event, Tue 8 May, 5pm, SL62: Are you tempted to pursue a career in Academia? Come along to our event with the SOAS Doctoral School & explore everything to do with Academic Careers!
  • School of Arts Careers Networking Event, Wed 9 May, 5pm, SL62: Thinking about next steps after your degree? Curious about how to find job you’ll enjoy? Come hear from SOAS alums working at Africa Salon, Channel 4, the Institute of Contemporary Art, WOMAD Festival + plenty more on this awesome Panel!

No problem if these aren’t the right time for you, or aren’t floating your boat! SOAS Careers is open all week, with a couple of the great Careers team in the Careers Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing ready & waiting to help you get inspired with your next steps. Drop by to find out how we can support you!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

#MondayMotivation: A Week of Celebrations!

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This week at SOAS Careers is all about celebrating the awesome achievements of SOAS students – both past and present! It’s no surprise that all of you have been actively changing the world for the better, so take a well-deserved (short!) break from those ever-looming deadlines and exams and get inspired.

Come along to get lifted and celebrate everything that makes SOAS the wonderful place it is…

  • Make a Difference Awards: Wed 2 May, 6pm, Atrium, Paul Webley Wing: Find out all the incredible volunteering and enterprising initiatives SOAS students have been involved in! The first hour will be a networking reception with charities and NGOs close to SOAS’s heart along with academics from across the University.
  • LBGTQ+ in the Workplace: Panel Discussion: Thurs 3 May, 6pm, Atrium, Paul Webley Wing: SOAS Careers is massively excited to host our first ever LGBTQ+ in the Workplace panel event! Come along for an evening of empowerment & a wine reception.

And a final bit of good news – SOAS Careers is also open as usual every day this week, with drop-ins with Careers Consultants available every morning from 10am, application and CV checks from 1pm and bookable guidance sessions from 3pm!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

#MondayMotivation: Welcome to Term 3!

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Things are back in full-swing for Term 3! We’re all hoping the summer sun holds out and that your daily exquisite moment takes you far away from your computer screen and that essay…

It’s no secret this time of year can be intense, and SOAS Careers is keen to offer up a sanctuary to all those deadlines. So treat yourself to a short revision/essay/procrastination break and come along to one of our inspiring events this week – who knows what it’ll lead to…

See you there! Can’t make it? Don’t worry – SOAS Careers is open every day this week: come along between 10am – 5pm to see the awesome space, useful resources and speak to the Careers team for bookable appointments and drop-ins!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

Now you’ve got the job, how do you negotiate your salary?

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A lot of our career advice here at SOAS tends to be (quite rightly) about how to research and get offered your dream job.
One thing that can throw even experienced professionals is the question of salary and how to get paid what you think you’re worth.
First of all, it’s a good idea to take a reality check. It would be fair to say that nobody really knows what the overall average graduate starting salary in the UK is as there are so many variables, including your subject, where in the world you’re going to be doing the work, your previous experience… to name but a few.
If you believe the High Fliers report, the median graduate starting salary is £30k. However, this is based on salaries in the top 100 graduate recruiters including a lot of the traditionally high payers. A more realistic estimate, borne out by SOAS’s own data, suggests somewhere between £19k and £22k.
If you want a more customised view of what salary you might earn, especially if you are a mid-career professional, then Glassdoor is a useful starting point.
And if you’d like some top tips around how to negotiate your salary, then take some time to read through these useful tips to help you negotiate the questions about salary expectations with ease, especially the question about current salary, which can be really hard if you have moved from one sector to another which has a different pay structure.
Speaking from experience, I fell foul of the ‘What is your current salary?’ issue when I moved sectors a few years back. I had been in retail management and moved to consultancy, and was horrified after a few months to find the other three people recruited to do exactly the same job as me were all paid significantly more than I was. I think if I’d not answered the ‘current salary’ question with a number and instead written ‘I’d prefer to focus on the value I can add to your role’ I might not have had to enter a salary negotiation after I had started the job. (I did get my pay equalised, by the way!).
So, forewarned is forearmed. Here’s some final top tips when you get a job offer:
1. Find out what the role/sector generally offer
2. Find out what you might be able to get with the Know your Worth site
3. Don’t be drawn into stating your own expectations unless you are confident you know what the norm is in the sector.
And good luck!
Philippa Hewett, Head of SOAS Careers

Rejection? Brush Your Shoulders Off

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We’ve all been there: hours of blood, sweat, tears and a fair amount of googling synonyms for ‘passionate’ go in to crafting the most meticulously put-together application that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that it is your destiny to take on this job, only to hear back from a generic HR inbox that they ‘regret to inform you’ that you’re not The One. Or worse yet – a resounding silence.

Yep: rejection sucks, but, dig a little deeper into anyone who’s gone on to do anything genuinely impressive (no, the Yodelling Kid doesn’t count) and you’ll quickly see that failure is a temporary – and important – step towards ultimate success. As Michael Jordan humbly puts it, ‘I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed’.

Never was this truer than when it comes to landing that elusive grad scheme, internship or part-time job for the summer. A lot of the time it’s purely a numbers game – due to the sheer volume of applications you may not luck out first time round and will need to keep trying. Knowing how to deal with this is crucial, and will only help you on your way to future triumphs.

Don’t worry, help is on hand; so sit back and take comfort in this virtual hug from SOAS Careers…

  • Take time out to reflect

Once the initial rage subsides, it’s worth taking 5 minutes to think through why this particular application didn’t work out. Do you need to get more experience under your belt? Could your application have done with being tweaked a little to really showcase to the employer how great you are for that specific role, or have you been going for quantity over quality recently? If you made it through to an interview, could you spend some time nailing your technique to guarantee that you come across as the dream candidate next time round? If you’ve had a few knock-backs, could you start targeting smaller companies rather than just going for household names?

SOAS Careers can support you with all of this and more. Take a look at all the ways we can signpost you to work experience and volunteering opportunities – both great additions to your CV, which will offer you lots more examples to talk about at interview too. CV & Application Advisers are on hand with drop-ins every afternoon between 1-3pm in SL62 to give you feedback, we can run you through a Practice Interview, offer guidance, help with online aptitude tests and lots and lots more

  • Get inspired

Often even those you assumed were born in to success have had to work hard to get to where they are – no matter how effortless it may all seem. Read the autobiography of any great entrepreneur or successful person, and more often than not it is their resilience that has been their Ace card. Identify someone you genuinely admire and dig in to what coping mechanisms they use to bounce-back.

  • Make sure love is all around

As you dive head first into another set of applications, make sure you’ve got friends and family close by, or ready and waiting for your Facetime call. Don’t underestimate the power of their support on your personal well-being, and vice-versa. Make sure you and your close friends are each other’s Number 1 Fans and regularly remind each other how great you are!

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself

There’s no easy way to say it: putting your all into an application and not hearing back would dampen even Mr. Motivator’s spirits. You’ve got every right to be disappointed, so rather than beating yourself up, treat yo’ self (within reason!) and move onwards and upwards.

  • It’s not you, it’s them

As The Beatles forecast, the road may well be long and winding – and it can be all too easy to forget to keep things in perspective. There will always be other opportunities, bigger and better ones that come at the right time for you.

So next time you get that email from what you’d convinced yourself would be your dream company, see the rejection for what it is – a set-back, nothing more, nothing less. Acknowledge it, learn from it and then move on. Don’t let it own you, rather get out there and own it!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager