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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From personal Twitter, to professional Twitter, to niche Twitter accounts

Short people at gigs (1)

There are two things I love. Live music and Social media.

I think my love for social media/social networking may have got out of hand. I didn’t really use Twitter before this job, then I suddenly started using my personal account more, then I created one work account , then two and now three! But last night following a gig I felt compelled to create another one. Not work related, but one designed to get some engagement and solidarity going among people who are fed up of being unable to see at an event because someone is oblivious to the concept of personal space.

And thus Short people at gigs was born #shortatgigs

I apologise in advance to my tall friends, this isn’t meant to exclude or insult you. I also recognise that for some people their height may not be the reason they can’t see everything they would like to at a gig.

So to make it clear,  Short at Gigs isn’t just for people to moan about the huge guy who made it so that all you saw for most of the night was his sweaty back. (But yes do have a rant about that moron) It is also for people who want to applaud a venue for its accessibility. It’s also for people to thank the person who let them sit on their shoulders during their favorite song. Perhaps you made a friend with a fellow shorty because of your impeded view? Or you may want to thank that person who made your life a little bit easier when you went to see a band you like (shout out to the lady who helped me get water at the James gig last night!)

No one wants to be “that person” who, however politely you put it, asks someone to rethink where they have chosen to stand/stop elbowing you in the face. And lots of people turn to social media to vent. So! Share your experiences with us using #shortatgigs and follow us here

This was also partly inspired by Girls Against who you may have seen in the news recently. They fight to raise awareness of and prevent sexual assault at gigs. In contrast to the page I have set up, they are a much more serious group who are effecting real change.

So apart from that whole ‘pitch’ and request for follows, likes and retweets. I also wanted to write here about a couple of events I am looking forward to over the summer!

Great Escape Festival in Brighton This has to be my favorite festival to date. A great way to discover new music, see some bands you know and see lots of Brighton. One minute you’re in a tiny bar or pub listening to some tunes the next you’re watching a band in a ballroom! This will be the 2nd time I am going and I can’t wait!

Common People Festival in Southampton I am actually going this year! The common is a great place to get together and the line up this year looks really good. I’m only going for the day on Saturday and am sad I will miss out on Duran Duran on the Sunday!

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Side note: Thank you also to my friend and colleague Vicki who helped me tweak my hashtagging ability 🙂 You can check out her facebook page here  where there is much costume, prop and prosthetic goodness for Cosplay, LARP, LRP, Theatre, Dance, etc.

 

 

Happy 10th Birthday Twitter!

Just a quick one from me today inspired by a Huffpost article written by a colleague of mine outlining the ways Twitter has changed the world, I thought I would throw in 5 ways I have used Twitter at work.

1. As well as allowing me to stay up to date with things that are happening on campus, Twitter has allowed me to network and connect with external companies to ask them to work with our students. This has included projects with Deloitte and ACCA. Companies having an almost round the clock team of people running their social media pages has meant that I have been able to reach them more easily than via email or phone.

2. It has allowed me to access information faster than before and share it with students. Having it as a main part in my social media dashboard also means I can have it ‘running in the background’ and dip in and out retweeting things I think our students should see.

3. Twitter has allowed me to help academics make their lectures more accessible to students. This has mainly come in the form of facilitating Q&A. I have also been able to use Twitter to access events I can’t attend or to raise a point I don’t feel brave enough to make in front of a large crowd of peers.

4. Twitter has allowed me to connect with the students I work with and see what is on their minds and the kind of things they are sharing. This also extends to prospective students who engage in hashtags set up by the University for our open days. This also allows me to do simple things like thank them for coming or saying how I am looking forward to meeting them when they arrive. Just acknowledging them before they come and visit a big institution can make them feel more welcome.

5. Twitter has helped me identify trends and current issues within Higher Education and has meant I have been able to read about points of view beyond the people that I work with. Often working at a university in a non-research or non-academic role means you can feel as though you work in a bubble. Not often getting out to conferences means I may not get the chance to chat with peers from other universities. Twitter lets me do this, even if in some cases I follow people I don’t necessarily agree with.

Before I came into this role I had little interest in Twitter but now I use it every day and have multiple accounts (for work, I’m not weird). I find it much faster to use than Facebook and despite the 140 character limit I actually find it helps me keep my thoughts concise. It also allows me to connect with people globally whereas with Facebook I am mainly restricted to my friendship group. I would encourage students and staff to stay up to date with things at their institutions and at others as you never know what opportunities it will surprise you with.

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Image from Tumblr via Giphy

 

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?

 

 

Communication and University Student engagement: A call for inspiration

I have said it before and I will say it again, I never thought working with students would be this challenging. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy it and minus some of the sexual health advice points this article pretty much sums up my working life 

I work with Business School students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and I regularly seek feedback from them about the way I communicate with them. I started off my role with my own student experience very much in mind when it came to trying to illicit responses from students but wanted to ensure I remained up to date (read: “down with the kids” if you must) so I have done surveys, focus groups and have spoken to students informally- always encouraging complete honesty about my approach. And I have hit a slight stumbling block.

Students have told me (each year)

We don’t have many social opportunities outside drinking and careers talks.

We don’t hear about things that are going on

We need reminders – don’t just send me 1 email to tell me about something I need at least 1 more email to remind me something is happening

Some emails we get are too long

I have now tried/heard/witnessed

I provide tea and coffee meet ups with free refreshments and sometimes we don’t have many of them attend (despite trying to work around timetables)

They have said to me and to some of my colleagues “you email us too much!” when asked for an alternative approach they have said “Could you put emails into one so we don’t get multiple messages?” but also tell me they don’t read long emails with multiple points buried in them…

The only consistent message I have from them is that if we do contact them it needs to be on email, facebook, twitter – as many channels as possible.

The automatic reaction I will get from some people reading this is that I can’t please everyone and/or I probably try too hard… but I just think it’s a shame when students don’t take up opportunities to help shape their own experience at uni. I know I didn’t make use of everything I should have while at uni and I definitely regret it.

I am very lucky that a colleague of mine has agreed to meet up for lunch next week to try and give me some inspiration and a fresh perspective on things. I know that there is no one size fits all approach   BUT if there is anyone out there who works with students; perhaps you are support staff, working in comms and marketing or in a student’s union team who could shed some light on this, I would be really grateful. Equally if you’re a student please let me know your thoughts as well.

 It’s sad that so close to Christmas I feel a certain lack of motivation…so spread the festive cheer and leave me some comments and share this post 🙂

All the feels – one app

This post comes after reading this article about an app that intrigues me…

A picture paints a thousand words… or does it?

Emojiary is an app that allows people to input emotions using emojis (I swear they used to be called emoticons?) with the hope of helping people better track their moods, apparently people are “hungry for support in understanding, processing, and channeling their emotions,” – I’d go with that given the amount of things I see spilled onto twitter and tumblr.

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Image taken from Tech Crunch article linked

I think this is probably aimed at the teen and young adult market, I don’t imagine anyone in their late twenties or older using it, but I could be wrong. I could see myself trying and abandoning it pretty quickly after the novelty wore off, much like my foray into snapchat.

In an ideal world

So all jokes aside, I think this could potentially be useful. It could help those who cannot properly express emotion and allow them to share it or vent it. A lot of young people seem very happy to post EVERYTHING online, so why not here? If this wasn’t linked with an online profile then perhaps it would allow people to vent without it being shared with the world wide web.

This could also make people more open about sharing their feelings more readily in a healthy or productive way, that is to say not going off on a rant. This could in turn lead to improved awareness of mental health conditions allowing people to track events that make them anxious for example. Similarly when it comes to depression they could use it to see how much of the time they spend being down/unhappy vs. happy.

Convinced?

Where this does allow people to share without putting it all online it could lead to someone immersing themselves in their own, more offensive ideas without being questioned (but really what can an emoticon say?!) Whereas when people put inappropriate or attention seeking posts online there is usually someone who calls them out on it.

Where this could make people more inclined to record or acknowledge their feelings this app may in fact make people more likely to retreat into their phones and tap away on keys. This could also lead to a lack of ability to articulate emotions properly from people who were actually OK at doing that to start with. This could interfere in normal conversation as has been seen in the rise of MSN messenger where people started to use ‘lol’  in normal conversation and more recently where some people choose to fill awkward silences by quoting memes (don’t lie, you totally do that….OK maybe it’s just me) – will we end up with people standing and pulling faces instead of using words?

Although this could be a useful tool for people to track their moods it may also lead to people reading too much into their emotions, younger more impressionable people may compare emojis and start to put combinations together so they look similar to their friends, sort of like how people only put their best bits on facebook.

Maybe I just don’t get it?

 

 

I know this is still early days and I am probably reading way too much into this. I have written (ranted) about ‘askFM’ and using Twitter as a learning tool before and wanted to write about something that was just taking off for a change.

What do you think?

Leave me a comment and let me know your take on it. Is this a flash in the pan kind of app that will disappear? Or do you think it will catch on? Would you use it? And if not – why not?