Getting Active Again

So I am now “one of those people”I have started Couch to 5K ( a 9 week running programme) This won’t sound that remarkable to most people. A lot of people have exercise integrated into their lives, but it has taken me a long time to get back into it.

Spoiler: this post does not contain any before and after pictures, neither does it contain any inspirational quotes.

Why have I bothered?

I used to run when I was at School – always long distance. People thought I was mad for liking cross country but it was something I could do relatively well; running for my district and my county sometimes. But I didn’t keep the exercise up while I was at uni which was an error. I forgot the positive feeling of running and when I discovered my body wasn’t as healthy as I thought it was  in my early twenties I had kind of resigned myself, rather sadly, to never putting my trainers on again. I did yoga and the like but I didn’t really see myself as the regular gym going type.

I envied my friends who seemed to always be out on their bikes, or doing marathons and other amazing things, tracking their exercise and living by their fitbits but was never compelled to try and follow suit – seeing this level of activity as unattainable now my body decided it wanted to act as though I was an old lady. To this day, whenever I find my body struggling to do basic things I refer to it as being my old lady body or OLB for short.

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Healthy body, healthy mind?

In addition to my physical health, the prospect of going to the gym, running in public and the associated little/no make up look that often goes with it was also daunting for my mental health as well! I did try the gym for a while pre-instagram boom and anxiety had me in a state where I was convinced as soon as I left the gym people were laughing at me for even trying. I told myself that if I couldn’t do a ‘reasonable’ stint at the gym (what does that even mean?) It wasn’t worth going at all.

But here I am, almost on week 3 of ‘couch to 5K’. Going to the gym every other day, I have even having managed going running in public more than once. Week 1 I felt constantly shattered,  asking myself when I would feel like #thisgirlcan  and “I don’t sweat, I glow”. I wondered where the boundless energy associated with being healthy, could be located. But I have pushed through and I now think that doing something is better than doing nothing.

We live amidst an instagram frenzy with almost everyone on there and tons of lifestyle and fitness posts. I already notice a difference in gym goers. The guys are more muscly and the girls are leaner-more power to them but that is kind of intimidating as I kill myself on a treadmill.

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I get the impression that there is increasing pressure on young people to look good or to be living life in a certain way. I used to think the pressure was mainly on women but now I can see guys are expected to look a certain way as well. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who aspires to look like the instagram posts we see and is battling inner demons like the ones I have described above. I’m surprised at myself and am apprehensive that I will hit a wall sometime soon, but I’m no longer making excuses.

This post isn’t meant as a brag, I’m just happy my body is currently letting me get out of bed and more. I’m feeling a tad more positive and as though I now earn any time I choose to sit on the couch and do very little.

My next step is to make sure I couple this exercise with some decent, healthy food before/after the gym. Any tips on that would be gratefully received; @eemaalou 

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Being found by a recruiter via social media

I started to write this post around 4 months ago and never quite finished it. I thought I would try and get it posted because it’s the summer holidays and during this time some students and graduates can find its hard to keep motivated for work/job hunt/ continuing their studies. So something new and exciting happened to me recently. I was approached by an employer via twitter. OK so on the surface that might not sound that interesting or great but he contacted me solely based on my tweets. He is a well known and successful investor/business advisor who wanted to talk to me about the possibility of working for a start up he had helped establish. What followed was games of email tennis, phone calls and an eventual interview. I had to sign a NDA so I can’t really talk details but I wanted to share some lessons I learned or that were reinforced by being approached this way. I’m sharing this experience not to brag but as proof that this kind of thing DOES happen. I hope by writing this I manage to help illustrate the value of keeping an online profile up to date/appropriate. Also with employers saying that graduates aren’t ‘job ready’ when they have finished their degrees I think any little thing you can do to present yourself well to employers will help. (She says having not touched her Linkedin profile in a long time). If you don’t really know where to start a free online course might help because you never know when this kind of thing will come around.

I had to put a minion in here somewhere

Some lessons I learned/had reinforced were;

Seek advice from a close colleague or someone who has been in this situation before I did this and it was probably the best thing I could have done in preparation. It put things into perspective for me and made me feel more calm.

Be patient  For all the emails or phone calls that may come after someone has approached you- be prepared to wait. Sometimes you may have to speak to the same person more than once, or wait for international calls or wait for a reply about a solid interview date. It can be really exciting being approached out of the blue but that doesn’t mean the rest of the process will run at the same speed. Don’t be left hanging but also don’t push too hard. You may not be the only person on their call list.

“All good things come to those who wait”

Be prepared for an air of mystery…  This seemingly came from nowhere. It was sparked by a single tweet I sent. And I had kind of accepted that this project was in ‘stealth mode’ so they needed to make sure they could trust me before they would share certain info with me. I arrived at the interview knowing there were a variety of possibilities on offer so it was in fact quite hard to feel completely excited as I didn’t know what kind of thing they had in mind for me. When this opportunity didn’t work out for me (due to geography and the nature of their working environment, not for lack of skills) not knowing what particular role they had in mind for me also made it difficult for me to feel disappointed or as though I had missed out on something…

Maintain a poker face.  Going back to my previous post, don’t come across as too keen a bean, keep your cool even if you are super flattered someone plucked you out from the internet for an interview.  

Do your research Although I knew the interview would be casual I should have looked at things such as London weightings on wages. When I was pressed to pick a number as a potential wage I may have looked ill informed giving a number they could have laughed me out of the building for. The number i gave them was also unreasonable for a start up as well (wishful thinking…)

 …but hey you don’t ask you don’t get Employers who are honest with you want the same in return. No need to labour under false pretenses if you have particular expectations or needs don’t be afraid to communicate them. I’m talking working hours and pay rates, not hammocks and extra long lunch breaks though.

Make sure you’re able to ask all your questions Although I was asked if there was anything further I wanted to know and I managed to get some questions out, put them under pressure to answer everything you have in mind before you leave. I held back a little as I thought I had fudged another part of the interview and lost a bit of confidence.

Don’t be scared to send a follow up email If you forgot to ask something follow up with an email to ask about things you forgot to ask in person. Some of those things may seem fairly obvious but due to the surprising way this all came about it was harder to be rational and think of everything when I got excited to be recognised by this person. I hope this post has been useful for some people. Comment, like and follow my blog if you liked it.

So it’s been a while, I have some news

Last time I wrote a post here I had been to an interview and had been feeling very frantic. Since then I had another interview I may blog about later (I was approached via social media which some people don’t believe can happen) but first; I HAVE SOME NEWS

I have been made permanent in my position at work

After having worked here for nearly 3 years my contract has gone from fixed term to permanent. I am seriously happy. This doesn’t mean I will stay here forever and I will continue to pursue opportunities for roles I am interested in BUT it does give me some stability. For the first time since graduating 4 years ago I feel I have something sorted. I have earned this.

The latest job search actually had me feeling more stressed and anxious than usual and I think that was clear from my last post. I’d like to thank all my friends who have listened and picked me up during this tricky period.

I have yet to decide whether to keep this page up. I had started it as a means of fine tuning my skills, then to try and help students learn more about certain job titles . I also try and share the great posts I enjoy reading a lot of which are written by friends of mine. Now I find myself increasingly tempted to blog about the things I am passionate about. Which may or may not be good for my online professional profile, I have definitely shared a lot with you. But there have been work related posts too!  However I will admit I got a little bit hippy-dippy around new years. I guess what I am saying is, it’s hard to see where to go from here…

SO HELP ME OUT PLEASE, INTERNET 🙂 

If any of you feel inclined to write a comment below telling me the kind of posts you’ve read on here and found interesting/useful or which kind you think I should keep writing that would be great.  hint… click the links above if you’re not so familiar.

How can you say no to that face?

 

 

Ask.FM and why I do not like it

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(can’t click, just a pic) ^This is what sparked this post for me

Working with social media has taught me a lot. About what to put online, what not to put online, how to get more clicks and how to engage with people. And unfortunately I have come across Ask.fm.

I know people who use it and I have seen some ugly, annoying stuff on there. With no offence meant to the people I know who use it; I think it is an absolute waste of time. It’s mainly used by attention seekers and trolls (wait, are they the same thing?) to provoke, nothing more. I think it’s a good idea that young people (it’s mainly used by under 18s) can have a platform to gossip without the adults around but honestly…what ARE you thinking? There is nothing there to educate young people about their digital footprint and the online profile they end up building for themselves. It is just an effort to hoard as many followers, likes, hashtags whatever.

I know there is the get out of “well there is a report abuse button available” but sites like this don’t actually do anything to help victims of abuse or trolls. I remember the days of MSN, which  could also be used to pick on people. I know how hard it was to back away from an argument when you’re engrossed in it and it feels like the end of the world. I also know what it’s like when you leave school one day with a friend, argue with them online and the next day it’s like you hate each other. Ask.fm has taken this to another level where it is made public and everyone can see and it’s so sad to see.

In one instance I noticed a reaction from a parent who, even though there was explicit language throughout (about their own child!) only remarked on the strange questions people were asking – NOT the filth that was being written on there.

Why is no one telling these kids that online fights and arguments, even with people you know, don’t mean anything?! They can back away, get afk and not have to have the last word. I am by no means insinuating that the people that have taken their own lives are deserving or have bought this on themselves but seriously! I remember my parents telling me to come off msn and I would beg them to let me stay on there like my life depended on the debate I was having. It’s like kids don’t get listened to or treated how they think they should be at home, so try and demand the respect elsewhere (online). It’s like one massive cry for someone to notice them! I just wish more young people saw it as a waste of time and the people who take to these sites to inflict pain, as idiots with too much time on their hands.

I will cut my rant short here because I will enter parental advice territory!

Here’s an article about whether Ask.fm can be made safe: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/06/askfm-way-to-make-it-safe?CMP=twt_gu

Image< A kind request

 

Networking and The nature of online presence part 2

Networking and socialising over the internet doesn’t quite have the same depth as speaking face to face. OK, so maybe Skype and face time are brilliant. But when it comes to “liking” and commenting, it requires minimal effort. A contact on the phone to me recently said “you don’t have to remember phone numbers now do you?” just like with people’s birthdays – I have a terrible head for dates but Facebook will let me know when your birthday is…brilliant! But I realised I don’t want to wish everyone a happy birthday, either we have lost touch or interest and so I start to delete people. But then they come back! People often use these social networking site for “stalking” I don’t mean in the sense that they see where you’re checking in on Facebook and “bump into” you there (although that has happened!) But they just want to be able to compare their life to yours. Some people (and hey, I’m sure I’ve done it) have stumbled upon someone’s online profile, cheekily glanced at their occupation and if it’s not as good as yours (mine) have silently rejoiced in the fact you’ve somehow 1 upped someone…because, let’s face it – it’s brutal living in the grown up world and  I’ll take all the victories I can.

Before I continue on my rant about this, I will say one thing. I have had some valuable online conversations with people, be that old colleagues who I miss who are all around the world. Or  someone I have cheekily emailed asking them to work with the students here. So it does allow for some meaningful engagements – which is good. It’s a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” scenario. Even on here, I am glad to see people commenting, messaging me, emailing me about this blog – it’s all good!

I have however also noticed an increase of people who like and/or share things on Facebook that they wouldn’t really dare to, for example, shout out in a pub. I have seen posts that people make which are slightly racist, nationalist, homophobic, sexist, rude and it shows a complete lack of understanding for the world wide web! They’re not “digitally literate”. In real life it’s the equivalent is going up to someone and shouting for example (re: Boston bombings – no disrespect meant here) “I BET THE PEOPLE WHO PLANTED THOSE BOMBS WERE FROM IRAQ/IRAN/AFGHANISTAN” I mean REALLY?!

Some people follow parody Twitter accounts which at first glance are funny but then some of them cross a line for example a parody of a soap (opera) actor making jokes about rape. That’s not funny. Call me uptight but that is not funny! People use the internet for free comment on things, which is their right, but there are definitely some crazy people out there!

Having said in part 1 of this post that people are very fickle in their online friendships. And saying above that people say things they wouldn’t say in public. They think there will be no consequences for their opinions but they underestimate the fact that unless you delete something, that post will be on Facebook and Twitter. FOREVER. I am surprised by some of the things people click “share” on without really thinking about things. And these are people I know and have spent time with/spent time with a lot. I know if I were to strike up a conversation about the offending content they probably wouldn’t be able to back themselves up. But those who do confront them online are usually told they are being stupid or sensitive. Could I really delete a friend for a poorly explained or unjustifiable post that is based on content someone else has created? I just don’t know. But it could happen soon!

Here are a few things I have observed and would pass on and should maybe consider myself:

1) Not everyone cares about your opinion. As with writing a book, not everyone is going to like it just because it’s something you care about. 1a) Don’t get offended by randoms and trolls – they are online purely to annoy. And if you don’t know them then don’t take offence – they’re out for reaction.

2) Take advantage of social media to make connections with people who are harder to reach. e.g. I recently emailed an author asking about his careers advice book (as mentioned in previous blog) and he asked me to promote it, he sent me a copy so I can make an informed recommendation now. Don’t be pushy but I am a firm beleiver in “if you don’t ask – you don’t get”.

3) It’s really easy to like something that is stupid and/or fake. Using the Boston bombings again there were stories put around on twitter and facebook which were lies and designed to stir up more scare surrounding those awful events. Check your sources! See picture:  https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRKQWB9lmLnjRqRpuwXOSTO31Lsjf2_PG37UgCT1De-1GXaFqx3HA

4) By all means make your relationship status public but don’t air your dirty laundry online. Again this can be done through sharing posts, there is a group somewhere called “people who tell the truth get hurt the most” or “girls who put up with the most s**t aren’t weak, they are the ones who love the most” or some such posts… They drive me mad! And be aware of who those posts can be seen by. I know couples who argue over what stuff they put online. It’s ridiculous.

5) PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT USE ASK.FM! I cannot stand that website! It allows people to anonymously ask questions of you out of boredom (both their part and the user) they can be anything from “whats your opinion on…” to more stalkerish topics. If you MUST use it don’t post those things on Twitter. It is the most annoying and mundane thing . This website is solely for cowards to pick fights and attention seekers to get on their high horses. Don’t make yourself an open target.

I don’t think there is much more I can add. Anyway – enough of that! All opinions welcome.

Networking and The Nature of an Online presence part 1

I am doing this in two parts, because part of this is work related and part of this is a liiiittle bit more rant like.

OK, So far these past couple of weeks I have been spamming Linked in, Facebook and Twitter (as well as emailing colleagues) as part of a campaign to get people voting for me in a Business Awards (see previous blog) I don’t normally do the whole self promotion thing unless I am going for a job and to be honest to begin with I was reluctant to throw myself into it and wasn’t going to ask people to vote at all. But on advice from my manager, I decided to make the most of the opportunity and see what I can get out of it.

So far people have rallied around me and posted Facebook statuses and got their colleagues to vote which is great. It was lovely to see so many of my old colleagues, who I messaged about it, vote for me as well. Really positive, confidence boosting stuff.

To some of my friends I am the one that dominates their Facebook and Linked in News feeds and to students I am usually that annoying one who posts on the Southampton Uni Management School Employability Page on Facebook and Twitter (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SotonMangEmployability/ and @SotonManEmploy on Twitter) which resigns me straaaight into the spam file for some. Imagine their horror when I take to Social Networking sites to promote this award nomination!

But I think keeping a decent online presence is important, if you have the time. It’s a means of reaching people without knocking on doors and leafleting (hey it’s paperless – I’m eco-friendly right?)

And it’s a means of sharing info. I love sharing things with people be that employability news or a picture/video that will brighten someone’s day. However it’s hard for me to see where this leads to. Getting people to click a link to vote for me is all very well and good (and I hope they have clicked because I deserve it!) but does how many people follow you/friend you = success? And how much distaste do people feel if you unfriend/unfollow? Social media can often feel like you’re shouting into a black hole. I came across this article about improving social media engagement for anyone who would like to read it: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-ways-to-improve-your-social-media-engagement/

I never imagined working with students would be such a challenge but engagement is something I am always looking to improve. If anyone out there has any pearls of wisdom – especially students! I would love to hear them.

The internet ; friend or foe when looking for a job?

OK, So I will eventually stop blogging about careers related things, it’s just what I have written has generated a lot of interest and some positive comments. This will (probably, maybe) be the last one I write about job seeking, because let’s face it I have to get on with my own work and job seeking!

It’s sort of assumed by most people that the internet is an amazing portal with which one can find a job at the click of a button. But from my own experience I have found that there are a lot of time wasters out there… seriously. You apply for what you think is a  job and you then get a call a couple of days later from a recruitment company offering to train you up for said position… this is not what I asked for. And of course this training isn’t free! It’s £300+ and you can do it all online (I’m sorry, how can you train to be a teaching assistant without a classroom?) So here are a few things to bare in mind when you receive those oh so helpful sounding calls:

1. You thought you applied for a job. They haven’t done what they said on their tin – not a good start. So really really consider whether the training they are offering is worth it. If you wanted training, you would have searched for it.

2. Things can be deceiving. They say they can train you up and guarantee you a job but often the training they offer isn’t even sought after by the employers you are targeting.

3. Graduates! Seriously think before investing even a couple of hundred pounds in further training, often a degree is impressive so why should you have to dip your hand in your pocket so soon after graduating?

4.  A lot of jobs offer on the job training which costs them, not you. If an employer wants to get you up to scratch they will invest the time and money in it – you shouldn’t have to.

5. DO NOT be afraid to turn people down. These people act all disappointed and upset with you, but you haven’t done anything wrong. Make sure you’re polite if you decline services from them. Believe me I have had to bite my tongue on more than one occasion. It’s tricky but doable.

But hey, it’s all down to experience and judgement in the end. I have come across people calling me offering me training when I thought I’d applied for a job more than once in both sets of job searches I have done. I have politely said no, and am no worse off for it.

Another pet peeve is those companies that send you email after email over and over, sometimes twice, three time in a day! And hey, then there are people like me, sharing information like this. Sounding like they have the slightest idea what they’re doing! Annoying huh?

My intention may be to post a list of helpful people or sites for people to follow on Twitter – if people reading this would find that useful? Let me know!