(Dolly) Pardon me, You Look Like You Need Some Careers Advice

Dolly Parton is known for many things but is perhaps not the first person that comes to mind in terms of career advice. A Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author, actress, producer, businesswoman and philanthropist as well as being something of a motivational speaker, Parton has a wealth of experience that she shares with her audiences through softly her spoken Southern witticisms.

Below are a collection of some of her most pertinent quotes and how they can help you along with your career journey!


“Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

Sometimes you have to weather the storm to build resilience. Job hunting in particular can feel like a thankless task. Dozens of applications sent out, painstakingly completed only to receive no reply. Yet that rejection can be a source of strength for the future. It will force you to re-evaluate and assess where your strengths lie you will be in a stronger position moving forward!


“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

All-in-all, we all spend a lot of time at work, which is why it’s important to do something that you feel passionate about. If your current trajectory isn’t making you happy then take steps to change it – look at small measurable ways you can alter your situation and start ‘paving’ another road.


“I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed.”

Failing at something can feel terrible but actually can be an incredibly positive and fruitful experience if you think about it in the right way. People rarely make the same mistake more than twice because failure compounds what works and what doesn’t in a given circumstance. Reframe failure as an opportunity to grow and develop yourself via reflecting on what went wrong and how it could be avoided. More than this however, don’t be afraid to fail!


“When I’ve got somethin’ to say, I’ll say it.”

Dolly’s never been one to mince her words, and there’s a lot to be said for speaking your frank and honest mind. If something doesn’t seem right to you, call it out; if something seems like it could be improved then don’t keep it to yourself!#


“We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.”

Being adaptable is another keystone of success! Being flexible in your approach to things reduces stress, increases productivity and often leads to personal and professional development opportunities. Sometimes something you think you’ll hate, or be bad at, turns out to be enjoyable or you discover plays to your strengths. Dolly’s career goes to show that being flexible in your approach to things can have positive results!


“It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!”

Arguably the most famous Dollyism, what’s worth taking from this is that you need to invest in yourself. You gotta sink time, effort and sometimes money into self-development in order to succeed. People rarely see the massive amount of substance that goes into success and instead focus on the goal – keep in mind all that goes into making a success of anything!


“Find out what you are. And do it on purpose.”

Only you really know what makes you happy, what you enjoy and what you excel at! Find out what you love to do, do it well and succeed! For most people it takes a long time to figure out exactly where their talents lie but take the time to do so – it can take weeks, months or years, and is a continuous process – and success will be yours!

If you’re feeling inspired, come by the Careers Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing to start discussing your next steps after SOAS – whatever they may be.  

James Hallett, Volunteering Advisor



#MondayMotivation: The SOAS Students Changing the World

December saw the launch of ‘Change the World’: where SOAS Careers encourages you to get creative with fundraising for a charity that means something to you! Thanks to funding from Santander, the idea is to find original ways to raise some serious cash to change the world.

SOAS students applied for a lump sum of £25 to get the ball rolling with their fundraising. The mission is straightforward: grow this as much as they can, in any (legal) way! All the money raised (including the initial £25) will then be donated to their nominated charity. SOAS Careers will also match the amount raised (up to a max of £500).

Want to get inspired this Monday? Here’s a run-down of how the students who’ve joined the campaign plan on raising some world-changing cash…


Nasra is fundraising for The Mix, a youth mental health charity which aims to promote the mental wellbeing of 13 – 25 year olds. She’s getting involved with bake sales, bucket collections and asking staff around SOAS to donate an hour’s worth of their salary to the cause!

Dilan & Nelam

Raising life-changing cash for Aids Orphan is Nelam and Dilan, who are organising a ‘Dare Day’. Keep an eye out for them as they’ll be asking you to donate every time they complete a challenge you set them! All the money raised will go to the grassroots charity, who provide support for those affected by Aids or HIV.


Rubab’s getting creative in raising funds for Action Aid UK, an international charity working with the poorest women and girls in the world. For Rubab the sky’s the limit, and she’s going to be running bake sales, film screenings, working with other societies, inviting speakers as well as bringing it all together in an awesome storytelling social media series.


Here’s Vanessa representing the SOAS East Africa Society, who are fundraising for The Disaster and Emergency Committee’s appeals for East Africa and Yemen. They’re encouraging people to donate an hour of their pay as part of their ‘One Hour to Fight the Famine’ social media campaign.


Nazihah, Shanjida and Tania are changing the world by raising cash for Maternal Aid Association – an organisation that helps mothers in Bangladesh by focusing on improving maternal health in resource-poor settings. They’re hosting a Bollywood movie night and selling South Asian snacks – giving everyone a taste of the region!

Everyone involved will be documenting their fundraising and reflections on successes and challenges as they go, so keep a look out for that! All their efforts will be celebrated at the Make a Difference Awards in February at SOAS. The charities involved will also be invited along so we can all find out exactly how the funds are helping to change the world…

Alexis Fromageot



Learning expands great souls ~ Namibian proverb

Come along to our massive range of events this week to learn all about how you can shape your next steps after SOAS! Get booked on via MySOAS Student here.


10:15 – 10:45 Top Tips for Beginning your Career Journey, SL62

11:15 – 11:45 Part-time Work, SL62

14:15 – 14:45 Top Tips for an Effective CV, SL62

15:15 – 15:45 Top Tips for Interviews, SL62



10:15 – 10:45 CV for Masters Students

11:15 – 11:45 Volunteering – Top Tips to Make it Work

14:15 – 14:45 Top Tips for Beginning your Career Journey –

Where to Start

15:15 – 15:45 Part-time Work



10:15 – 10:45 How to get an Internship and Why

11:00 – 12:00 Benefits of Volunteering with Reach Out

11:15 – 11:45 Employer Session: Reach Out

13.00-16.00 Part-time Work and Volunteering Fair



10:15 – 10:45 Top Tips for an Effective CV

11:15 – 11:45 Using Social Media in your job-hunting/research

14:00 – 15:30 Volo Presentation about Volunteering

14:15 – 14:45 Employer Session: VOLO



10:15 – 10:45 Volunteering: Top Tips to Make it Work

11:15 – 11:45 Top Tips for Interviews

14:15 – 14:45 Part-time Work for International Students

15:15 – 15:45 Understanding Networking

Get involved!

Alexis Fromageot

Thinking about volunteering this summer? 


Have you thought about volunteering but not sure what or how? Would you like to find a volunteering opportunity for the summer?

SOAS Volunteering Unit is hosting an event this THURSDAY 1st June 2-4 in the Cloisters, Paul Webley wing designed to help YOU!

Come along to:

Sign up to volunteer over the summer

Listen to volunteers’ stories in our Speaking Library

Find out about upcoming training at SOAS

Share your own volunteering opportunities


Book your place!

Emma Frampton, Volunteering Intern

Celebrate SOAS students at Make a Difference


On 24 May SOAS Careers will be celebrating the achievements of our students at the annual Make a Difference awards, which will be held on the grand staircase in the Atrium of the Paul Webley Wing from 6 pm.

This year we have four categories:

  • Individual volunteer of the year
  • Volunteer team of the year
  • Social entrepreneur of the year
  • Business plan of the year

Winners will be announced at the event.

Come along to hear about the achievements of SOAS students and join Valerie Amos in congratulating them. Refreshments and networking will be available after the event.

Reserve your place here!

Emma Frampton

Guest Blog: Why Volunteering is Selfish (and why you should do it)

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.

This guest blog comes from Kimberly Hovish, Staff Learning and Development Officer at SOAS, University of London. 


I’ve volunteered on and off in various roles for about 20 years – not because I’m a ‘good person’ (which is what people tend to assume!) but because I’m pretty selfish. The fact is, volunteering helps me by enhancing my quality of life, providing training opportunities and making me more marketable.

Antidepressant qualities

Studies have shown that volunteering increases happiness and general wellbeing and decreases depression.  Volunteering also helps people appreciate what they have through downwards social comparisons. My personal favourite is the feeling that I’m making a contribution to the society in which I live. I currently volunteer with a charity that facilitates community mediations to resolve conflict. Words can’t describe seeing people who entered a room hating each other (with resentments building up over months or years) leaving the same room two hours later smiling and inviting each other over for tea. You know that warm, fuzzy feeling? Yeah, it’s that. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to know YOU made that happen.

Free training

Whether you want to change careers, get promoted, or learn something new just for the sake of it, volunteering will give you this opportunity – for free! Through various volunteering roles I’ve attended formal training workshops in mediation, mentoring, and solution-focussed coaching practice, all of which have been fantastic learning experiences and didn’t cost me a penny! But the most useful experience I gained was through volunteering at a women’s sexual violence support service in my late 20’s, when my paid work wasn’t progressing much. I received invaluable, ‘on-the-job’ training and experience in: being part of an executive committee; heading up an organisation; managing finances and fundraising projects; spearheading a marketing campaign; chairing meetings; and responding to people in crisis situations (to name just a few things….). No formal workshops could ever have provided me with the real world experience I gained during this time. It was the most challenging role I’ve ever had, as well as the most rewarding, and my confidence skyrocketed!

Sounding awesome in job interviews

You know in a job interview your mind goes blank when you are asked things like ‘Give me an example of when you have dealt with a difficult situation’ or ‘Tell me about a time when you have demonstrated your time management skills’? Volunteering means you will actually look forward to these questions being asked! Difficult situation? TICK. Teamwork? TICK. Time management? TICK. Communication skills? TICK. For instance, when asked in job interviews for an example of time management, I like to use volunteering as proof I can successfully manage full-time work with other commitments. Working alongside other volunteers demonstrates teamwork and a willingness to go the extra mile (especially as you’re not being paid!). Dealing with people’s conflicts, whether internal or external, shows good listening skills, problem solving skills and communication skills. You will NAIL those awkward interview questions with a bit of volunteering experience!

If you’re feeling a little selfish and you’d like to learn more about how you can volunteer and become happier, more skilled and marketable contact Emma Frampton on volunteering@soas.ac.uk. Head to the Volunteering pages on MySOAS Student to find out more about volunteering.

This guest article has been written by Kimberly Hovish (kh37@soas.ac.uk), Staff Learning and Development Officer at SOAS, University of London

SOAS Careers is bringing Volunteering to the limelight & making sure that this year’s Microplacements are better than ever!

Grad Interns_April 17

SOAS Careers is excited to announce that two awesome new graduate interns have recently joined the team. Staying until this summer’s Graduation, each intern has taken on specific projects to help transform students’ experience of Careers at SOAS.

Recent Anthropology graduate Emma Frampton has been amping up volunteering provision for SOAS students and recent grads. Having been awed by the great volunteering activity that’s already taking place on campus, Emma’s working on bringing together a real community of students and alumni who are changing the world. She’s particularly enjoyed the chance to liaise between students and professional and academic staff.

Having graduated with a degree in African Language & Culture with Swahili, Rupert Wilkinson has been taking a look at internship provision at SOAS. He’s actively been involved in some of the unique programmes on offer for SOAS students, including Microplacments – a careers education programme for second year Undergraduates from a range of departments, culminating in a two week placement. Rupert’s also taken a look at the Careers events run at SOAS, and how to optimise these for students.

Careers provision at SOAS has massively benefited from the great work both Emma and Rupert have put in so far. Having recent grads in the team has offered an extra depth, as the interns are so much more aware of the immediate issues that are of obvious concern to the student body. The pair have excelled at talking to students, graduates, employers and SOAS staff alike and will no doubt continue to have a real impact on Careers at SOAS.

Emma and Rupert can be found in the brand new Careers Learning Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing – and are on hand for any Careers questions you may have.

Alexis Fromageot

Are you changing the world, or know someone who is?


… Then we want to hear from you!

SOAS Careers is excited to run this year’s Make A Difference Awards. The Awards are a unique opportunity to recognise the awesome talents we have here at SOAS, and the amazing contributions you make to supporting other’s lives.

We’ve got four Awards this year, and you can either self-nominate or suggest a classmate or group for any of these:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Volunteer Team of the Year
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Social Enterprise Business plan of the Year

Each winner will be decided by a panel of judges from across SOAS. All nominees will be invited to a celebration event in May, with prizes for the finalists in each category.

This really is your chance to spread the word about some of the great work that’s happening here at SOAS, and bring together a real community of change-makers on campus.

Head here to nominate by midnight Tuesday 9 May, and spread the word with #soasawards.

Alexis Fromageot

Have Your Say about Volunteering


At SOAS Careers we’re keen to make sure we support you as best as we possibly can. The Volunteering Service at SOAS Careers is currently carrying out a survey of current volunteering amongst SOAS students.

The survey only takes 5 minutes to fill out – whether you’re a regular volunteer or if you’re just interested in the idea of helping others. Spread the word to your cohort!

Click here for the survey!

Alexis Fromageot