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Leslie Gilmour

Wild Camping in the UK: A Budget-Friendly Way to Enjoy the Summer Holiday

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 18 Apr 2023, 12:19

Wild camping is a great way to experience nature's beauty and escape the city. The UK is home to some of the most stunning wild camping spots in the world, from rolling hills and rugged coastline to dense forests and tranquil lakes.

Whether you're an experienced camper or a beginner, there's a wild camping spot in the UK that's perfect for you. From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast, there are endless opportunities to pitch your tent and explore the great outdoors.

Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park is a popular destination for wild camping enthusiasts. Its stunning landscapes, rugged mountains, and tranquil lakes offer plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities.

However, it is important to note that going wild camping in the Lake District without prior permission from the landowner is technically not permitted. As the National Park Authority states, "Wild camping is not a legal right, it is a tolerated activity."

That being said, there are several areas within the Lake District where wild camping is more accepted. These areas include:

  • The Langdale Pikes

  • Great Gable

  • Haystacks

  • Scafell Pike

Following the Leave No Trace principles when wild camping in the Lake District is important. This means leaving the area as you found it, taking all rubbish with you, and avoiding damage to the environment. Camping above the highest fell wall, away from footpaths, and out of sight of houses and farms is also recommended.

Wild camping in the Lake District is a unique and rewarding experience, but it is important to remember to respect the environment and follow the rules and guidelines set out by the National Park Authority.

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is one of the most popular wild camping spots in the UK. With its rugged and picturesque landscape, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for any adventurer. There are several areas within the park where wild camping is allowed, but it is important to consult the interactive map provided by Dartmoor National Park Authority before setting up camp.

One of the top spots for wild camping in Dartmoor is Cosdon Hill. Located on the park's northern side, this spot is easily accessible from South Zeal.

The entire Cosdon Hill area is designated for wild camping, so campers do not have to worry about being in the wrong area. Another great spot is Okehampton Common, one of the park's most dramatic parts. This area offers stunning views and a chance to get up close with Dartmoor's unique wildlife.

For those who prefer to camp at designated campsites, there are several options within Dartmoor National Park.

The River Dart Country Park is a family-friendly campsite that offers a wide range of activities due to its location within a 90-acre water and adventure park. Another option is the Langstone Manor Holiday Park, which offers a peaceful and secluded camping experience in the heart of Dartmoor.

Wild Camping in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is a paradise for wild camping enthusiasts. With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning lochs, and majestic mountains, it offers some of the best wild camping spots in the UK.

One of the most popular wild camping spots in the Cairngorms is Loch Etchachan. Located in the atmospheric Coire Etchachan, it is the highest-named body of water in the UK, at 920m. It offers a truly memorable night spot, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the starry night sky.

For those seeking more wilderness and less people, there are many other top spots to pitch up in the Cairngorms. Ben Macdui, the UK's second-highest mountain, is a popular spot for adrenaline junkies. Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak, Beinn a Bhuird, and the SnowRoads are also great options for experienced wild campers.

It's important to note that wild camping in the Cairngorms National Park is subject to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This means that wild camping is allowed, but it must be done responsibly and with respect for the environment and others.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is a beautiful North Wales area popular with hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It is also a great place to go wild camping, with plenty of stunning locations to choose from.

One of the best spots for wild camping in Snowdonia is near the summit of Mount Snowdon itself. While it can be a challenging hike to get to the top, the views from the summit are truly breathtaking. There are several flat areas near the summit where you can pitch your tent and spend the night under the stars.

If you prefer to camp at a lower elevation, there are plenty of other options in Snowdonia. For example, Llyn Gwynant campsite is a great place to set up camp if you want to be close to the water. The campsite is located on the shores of Llyn Gwynant, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.

Another popular spot for wild camping in Snowdonia is the Cwm Idwal Nature Reserve. This area is known for its stunning scenery, including the beautiful Llyn Idwal Lake. There are several good spots for wild camping in the reserve, including the shores of Llyn Idwal itself.

It is important to note that wild camping is not technically legal in Snowdonia National Park, but it is tolerated and commonplace.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Brecon Beacons National Park is a popular destination for wild camping in the UK. The park offers a wide range of landscapes, including mountains, valleys, and waterfalls, making it an ideal spot for camping enthusiasts.

The Black Mountains are among the best areas for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons. This area offers some of the wildest terrains in the park, with long and wide ridges running parallel to each other and deep valleys in between them. Camping on the mountaintops can be quite exposed in bad weather, so pitching high only when the forecast looks safe is best.

If you're looking for a more tranquil and peaceful camping experience, Aberbran Fawr campsite is a great option. This little campsite is tucked away in a quiet corner of the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It's a hidden gem that's not very well known, so it's perfect for those who want to get away from the crowds.

It's important to note that wild camping is not legal in most parts of the UK, including the Brecon Beacons. However, it is possible to camp legally in certain areas of the park by first obtaining permission from the landowner.

If you're unsure about where to camp in the Brecon Beacons, there are plenty of campsites in the area that offer a more traditional camping experience. Some of the best campsites in the park include Brynich Camping, Pencelli Castle Caravan and Camping Park, and Lakeside Caravan and Camping Park. These campsites offer a range of facilities, including showers, toilets, and electric hook-ups.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, standing at 1,345 metres tall, and is a popular destination for wild camping. With stunning views and challenging terrain, it is a great spot for experienced campers looking for an adventure.

There are several camping options available for those looking to camp near Ben Nevis. The Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park is a popular choice, as it is located just steps away from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and the start of the Mountain Path, which is the most common hiking route to the summit.

The campground offers a variety of pitches, including electric hookups, and has modern facilities, such as showers, toilets, and a laundry room.

The Steall Meadows is a popular spot for wild camping, as it is a flat area before the wire bridge crossing to the waterfall. It is recommended to park at the end of the Glen and walk up to the meadows to set up camp.

What to Expect While Wild Camping

The Law on Wild Camping in UK

Wild camping is legal in Scotland, but it is illegal in most other parts of the UK without the landowner's permission. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as Dartmoor National Park, where wild camping is allowed with certain restrictions. It is important to research and understand the laws and regulations of the area you plan to camp in before setting up camp.

The Best Time to Go Wild Camping

The best time for wild camping in the UK is during the summer months, from June to September. The weather is generally mild, and the days are longer, giving you more time to explore and enjoy the outdoors. However, it is important to be prepared for all weather conditions, as the weather in the UK can be unpredictable.

What to Pack for Wild Camping

When packing for a wild camping trip, it is important to pack light, but also to be prepared for all weather conditions. Essential items to pack include a tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, food, water, warm clothing, a first aid kit, and a map and compass. It is also important to pack out all rubbish.


Wild camping in the UK is a fantastic way to experience the great outdoors and connect with nature. With so many beautiful and diverse landscapes to choose from, there is no shortage of great camping spots. Whether you are looking for rugged mountains, rolling hills, or stunning coastlines, the UK has it all.

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Leslie Gilmour

Can Therapy Help While You Study?

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Being young and still in school might seem like the best time ever. After all, it could seem like there is nothing more to do than just study and have fun. 

If you are a student, you might already be aware that things are much more complex than they seem. A typical student has to deal with school, projects, extracurricular activities, work, and much more. That said, it is no surprise that depression and anxiety are at an all-time high among adolescents.

Even if you think that you are managing the stress of studying with no issues whatsoever, there is no harm in making an effort to find an online therapist and seeing what they can do for you. Keep reading to find out how therapy can help you while studying.

Ways Therapy Can Help You 

First, you do not need a mental health condition to benefit from therapy. Students are just like anybody else, which means that the same everyday struggles that affect the general population, such as depression, stress, anxiety, etc., may also affect you.

Seeing a therapist can help you identify issues in your life and find solutions. A mental health professional can also assist you in building or developing confidence.

They can also aid you in improving personal and interpersonal skills and help you identify ways you can change your life for the better. 

Suppose you are starting a new school or university or simply passing on to the next grade. In that case, this also comes with its own set of issues, such as adjusting to a new environment and discovering your position and identity among your new peers or educators.

A capable therapist specialising in the area that worries you might be just the thing you need to overcome the hurdle you are currently facing.

When You Should Seek Help


Everybody faces hard times now and then. Sometimes, problems can sort out, and our worries turn out insignificant. That is why it is essential to know how to recognize the times when you need assistance from a therapist. 

  • You should seek help from a mental health professional if:

  • Your thoughts and feelings are getting in the way of your studies.

  • You’ve been feeling stressed out for more than a week.

  • You feel a lack of motivation or an increase in negative emotions.

  • You feel more anxious than usual, or you’ve been lacking will for longer.

Some additional warning signs include a lack of care about your looks and personal hygiene. A decreased libido and no interest in socializing with others might indicate that you should seek a therapist. The same holds for sudden weight fluctuations and the urge to work too much or too little.

What to Expect When Talking to a Therapist

Talking to a therapist is a huge step toward improving your overall well-being. 

A good therapist will be there to guide you through your struggles and help you overcome them. Do not expect simple answers to complex problems.

You will not be told what to do. A therapist is there to listen and help you navigate your life's complexities. They cannot and should not live your life for you. A good therapist will help you change your behaviour for the better and improve your life skills, such as communication and interpersonal skills.

Likewise, a therapist should be impartial and non-judgemental. Your privacy should be their top priority. A therapist will not let your parents or guardians know what you talk about without your consent.

Therapy should be a place for you to talk about your feelings and troubles with an impartial professional whose sole aim is to help you. You should be able to express yourself honestly and openly without fear of a confidentiality breach or the feeling that you are being judged.

If you do not feel like you are getting that from your current therapist, it is probably best to seek help elsewhere. Keep in mind that your mental health is at stake here and that you are the one with the power to pick and choose whom you work with and talk to.

Benefits of Therapy for Students


Regular therapy sessions - in person or online - can improve your life in school and outside of it in many ways.

With the help of a therapist, you will apply the communication skills you have gained in therapy in real life. Once you learn how to speak about your emotions and thoughts honestly, you can also use this knowledge to improve your everyday communication. 

Once you learn how to communicate better and more efficiently, your interpersonal relationships will also improve. In therapy, you will also learn about conflict management and resolution, which are valuable everyday skills.

With the communication and cooperation skills learned in therapy, you will be able to improve your relationships and learn how to create a healthy bond with people around you while setting personal boundaries.

Your emotional intelligence will get a boost from therapy. In therapy, you will learn how to identify and manage your emotions, resulting in improved self-management.

Therapy will provide you with coping skills to deal with everyday challenges. With help from your therapist, you will learn how to manage your emotions healthily. 

Therapy helps with achieving better academic performance. When you devote some time each week to talk to your therapist and sort through any issues you might have, that leaves more room for you to focus on studying during the rest of the week.

Not to mention that therapy can help you deal with anxiety,  depression, ADHD, and many other factors that could hurt your academic performance.  

With all that in mind, it is easy to see that therapy can help you while you study in many meaningful ways.

Therapy can give you the tools and knowledge needed to improve your academic career and your life in general.  Reach out to an online therapist or find one in real life and start making the change for the better.  

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Leslie Gilmour

Learning Video Production for Beginners

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Monday, 18 Jul 2022, 14:23

Amateur videos can now be made as quickly as pressing the record button on your iPhone's camera, but if you want to go into professional video production, you'll need to learn much more. If you're interested in making high-quality video and film productions, we'll take a quick look at the steps involved and see what you need to know to succeed.


Define the goals of this video before you even start planning. What's the point? What are your expectations from this experience? Which audience members will benefit from this content, and how? There needs to be a goal from the start of the project. You will also need a guide on measuring whether or not the video is a success.

You can use the SMART methodology to create your objectives (or identify your goals). SMART is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, and measurable.

There is a lot of planning involved in making a video, whether it's a 30-second social media video or a full-length feature film. Most videos begin with these pre-production steps.

Ideation – Aim to develop a general idea for the video and how it will tell a story.

Scriptwriting – Create a video script that effectively communicates your message. You're not much of a writer? Writers who specialise in this field should be hired.

Storyboarding – Preparing a visual storyboard based on your script and the shots you want to accompany the narration or dialogue is called "storyboarding."

Create a shot list after your storyboard has been approved/completed. This is the list of all the shots needed for the video.

Hiring talent - Whether you're looking for a narrator or actors for your script, you'll need a system to find the right people

Scouting and securing the locations – A studio, a location, or several locations are all viable options for filming your video. To find the ideal location, you may have to go out of your way and spend money on renting a space or making plans to hold your shoot at a specific time.

Scheduling the shoot – A shooting schedule should be drawn up that lays out exactly when and where each shot will be taken, as well as who will be on set at each location.


The actual filming of your video is included in the production phase. You should know how long this phase will take because you've planned it out. And it's your job, whether a producer or a stakeholder, to ensure everything moves along according to plan.

The director is usually needed for this stage of the process. Depending on the scope of your production, you may be able to pull this off without hiring a professional. But, you will need to know how it’s done. Interning for a video production company is the best way to learn how to direct films.

Directors play a critical role in ensuring that your cast delivers the goods, that you get all the shots you need, that they're appropriately framed and lit, and that the script and storyboard are adhered to as closely as possible.

Included in the process of creation are the following elements:

Preparing the scene for the photo shoot – Setting up your lighting, microphones, and other technical equipment is a must whether you're shooting in a studio or on location.

You'll also want to place your camera(s) and crew where they need to be and ensure your actors are where they need to be.

Shooting video – Use the camera equipment you've selected for the project to record your video. Take as many shots as you think you'll need, and shoot much more than you think you'll need. When it comes time to edit the video, you don't want to discover that you missed an important shot.

Recording voiceovers, dialogue, sound effects, and other elements of your video's audio track. You can also use music that you've recorded yourself or that you've purchased for your video.

It's possible to purchase stock video clips like stock photography and show standard shots/actions. These clips can be edited into your overall video.


You can begin putting it together as soon as you've created everything you need to make your video. Post-production entails the following primary steps:

A good understanding of video editing software is required to organise, compile, and sequence your raw footage into a high-quality video. Also, this is where special effects, audio mixing, and colour correction come into the picture.

Once the final video is completed, it may be necessary to optimise the video for its intended use, such as adjusting the screen size, file size, or the type of video file. As a rule of thumb, if you're filming a TV commercial, you'll need a different set of specifications than if you're making a social media video.

The final step in the video production process is to post and promote your video. Put it out there in the right places, and make sure you have a marketing campaign to help get the word out.

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Leslie Gilmour

Gardening During Lockdown: My New Peace Time

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Despite my best efforts, my mind is always on the move. Running, meditating, and practising yoga are some of my favourite pastimes, but they didn’t quieten it during lockdown. I also tried listening to the apps that are supposed to ground you, but each time I did, I felt guilty for not giving it my full attention. Gardening, however, was effective in a way that nothing else had been. A five-minute stroll in the garden can easily pass by without me realising it!

And I am not the only one who found love for gardening when the pandemic began. There has been a significant increase in gardening interest.

As a result of the lockdown, many people have been able to devote more time to simple tasks like planting seeds, tending plants, and building veg plots. These five steps may explain how lockdown gardening is good for our mental and physical health:

Staying Active

Keep fit and healthy by working in the garden. A garden workout can be a total body workout because of the wide range of available activities. For example, laying patio slabs in my garden really helped me build muscle.

Stretching and bending while pruning or weeding, as well as pushing and pulling a lawnmower, can all result in a significant amount of perspiration. As long as you remember to wear sunscreen, this is an excellent way to get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

Being Mindful of Nature

Since the lockdown, many people have noticed that the birds are much more raucous. Because there is no traffic, people are more aware of the birdsong they hear on their daily walk or in their garden. The birds haven't raised the volume. With the country under lockdown, we had more time to listen to nature's sounds and see how the leaves on the trees are beginning to unfurl.

Learning More

Taking your kids to the garden is a great way to spend time together. Math, science, and nature are all brought together in this educational tool for homeschoolers. There are many ways for children to learn about the care of plants, from watering and pricking out the seedlings to eventually harvesting the plants and eating the fruits of their labour.

Connecting With Others

As a result of the lockdown, we haven't been able to connect with people outside of our immediate circle. But connecting with others was still possible thanks to online meetings. Many community gardens moved to social media, where members exchange ideas, photos, and other helpful tidbits.


You almost always end up with more than you need when you plant seeds! If you give your neighbours some of your plants or seeds, they can enjoy some homegrown produce.

Easy Growing Anyone Can Try

  • You can experiment with home-grown plants that are simple to maintain. If unable to leave your house, there are numerous growing activities that you can try with items in your refrigerator or cupboard. Find out what fruits and vegetables you have on hand and see if you can grow some of them.

  • To get the most out of your tomatoes, slice a tomato and place it on top of some compost. There should be sprouting within a week or so for the seeds. When the plants have three or four leaves, you can pot them up.

  • Potatoes can be planted in a large bucket if sprouted under the sink. When the leaves begin to poke through the soil, add another 10cm of soil and keep doing so until you reach the top of the bucket. Once the plants have bloomed, it is time to harvest them.

  • Get some chilli seeds out of fresh or dried chillies and plant them in a pot for a little heat. Keep the soil moist and the pot in a sunny location by covering it with a thin layer of soil. In about ten days, the seeds should sprout.

  • Propping vegetables over a glass of water with the water touching the bottom of the vegetable encourages them to grow again. The plant's base will sprout leafy shoots as its roots sink into the water. These can be harvested as soon as they're 5 to 10 centimetres tall.

A community garden or a gardening club may be an excellent place to meet new people if this article has given you some inspiration.

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Leslie Gilmour

How to Get Started in a Property Management Position

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The present-day job market is maybe more unstable than it ever was. Because of this, many people who are fortunate enough to own property have turned to rent as a secure source of income.

Fortunately for you, where there is property, there is the need for property management. While there are many well-established property management companies such as SCK Property management already out there, you might have what it takes to get started in a property management position yourself and build a career out of it.

What is a property manager? 

A property (or real estate) manager is an individual or a company in charge of taking care of some sort of real estate. In return, they receive a percentage of the rent or a fixed sum of money weekly or monthly.

There is more to this job than just collecting the rent and ensuring that the property is not just standing empty. Being a property manager comes with many responsibilities.

These include advertising the property for rent and showing it to potential residents. Also, it involves screening all the possible tenets or residents and doing a throughout background and credit check on them. 

Next, a property manager has to take care of lease renewals and provide tenant retention. TO achieve this, a manager has to tend to the tenants’ needs and help them with urgent repairs and general upkeep and maintenance of the property. 

In some cases, the manager can even act as a salesperson. While this is not the norm, expect to deal with a lot of paperwork as a property manager. In addition, you will be the one to handle contracts and evictions and coordinate maintenance and repairs with different contractors such as plumbers or electricians. 

What are the skills a property manager should have? 

As a potential property manager, you should be able to multitask. After all, your future job will involve dealing with both people and rental spaces.

Therefore a good property manager should have strong communicational skills. You should be able to organize yourself and others as well.

Besides that, a property manager should have at least basic knowledge of marketing. At this position, you will be expected to provide excellent customer support 24/7, so any previous experience in this field of work will be a valuable bonus.

What are the requirements for becoming a property manager? 

The minimal requirements for entering the world of property management are not that scary. All you need is a high school degree. On top of that, depending on where you live, you will need to pass a test of some kind. Some places demand that you just complete the required Real Estate Pre-Licencing coursework in the US, while other sites ask you to take and pass a test once the course is done. Legal requirements vary from place to place.

While you are not legally obliged to be certified as a property manager every bit of education counts and improves your odds of making it in this competitive world. You could go for as many certificates and complete as many training programs as you can.

Do you need a license to work? 

In the world of property management, legal requirements are different from one place to another. In addition, the demands are not consistent throughout the USA - some states demand that you have a license to practice property management while others do not.

However, when you are just entering the lucrative and exciting world of property management, the odds are that you will start your career as an assistant. In practice, this means that you will be working under the supervision of someone who has a real estate broker’s license or a property manager’s license.

Working as an assistant can be very beneficial for you. First, you won’t need a license, and at the same time, you will be able to learn all the finer details and tips and tricks of this craft under supervision.

How do I start? 

To begin your career as a property manager, you will most likely need to apply for an entry-level position with a real estate broker or an existing property managing company.

While high school education is enough to get you started, almost any type of degree will give you a competitive advantage - a business degree or accounting or finance diplomas are nice to have.

Once you finish your apprenticeship, you will have to keep improving your skills and continue learning, but it will all be worth it. And of course, this is when you will have to have licenses and certificates of your own. 

If you are willing to learn and build your career over time, this job has the potential to provide you with a genuinely satisfying and lucrative career that meets all of your professional and personal goals.

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Leslie Gilmour

Learn Presentation Skills for Remote Interviews

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More and more companies are asking candidates to prepare presentations for their interviews. If you want to land that job, apprenticeship, or internship, you need to learn a few presentation skills. 

Now that most of these interviews take place online, the list of the skills you need to master in order to give a successful presentation has grown.

Asking the Right Questions Before the Interview

Even if you are the most talented public speaker in the world, your presentation won’t be successful if you play it by ear. You can start preparing for your online presentation by asking the hiring manager a lot of questions about what you can expect.

Many interviewees refrain from asking questions before their interview presentation because they think it will make them look nervous. But, if you ask the right questions, you will look like someone who doesn’t leave anything to chance. In the eyes of most hiring managers, this is a big plus.

Some of the questions you should ask them include:

  • How long should the presentation be?

  • What particular skills would you like me to demonstrate?

  • Should I develop the title of the presentation, or will you give it to me?

  • How many people will I present to?

  • To whom will I be presenting? Bosses, coworkers, or potential clients?

  • What is the expertise level of the audience?

  • What platform will we use (Zoom, Skype, etc.)?

The answers to such questions will help you determine what focus you should take and how you should pitch your presentation. They will make it easier for you to alter your style of communication to match your audience.

Following Instructions

If they ask you to give a 15-minute presentation on how you would plan a communications strategy, that’s exactly what you should give them. Stay on target.

This way, you will demonstrate that you can follow directions and manage your time. It also demonstrates that you have respect for your audience.

Don’t be tempted to go on for 17, 18, or 20 minutes. You’ll cost yourself time to talk about your other skills.

Prepare Aids

To highlight the key points you want to get across, use presentation tools. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with presentation tools such as Prezi or PowerPoint. Most video conferencing platforms allow you to share your screen, so you can use such tools for remote interviews.

No matter what technology you use, keep things simple. Have you heard about “Death by Powerpoint?” Not only does such a thing exist, but it applies to all presentation software.

If there are some slides you cannot do without, print them. That way, if the software fails, you can still show them on camera.

Don’t invest too much time and effort into your presentation design. The focus should be on what you are saying. Each slide shouldn’t have more than 3 or 4 bullet points. Moreover, each slide should represent just a couple of minutes of material.

Think of a slide as a billboard on the side of a road. Instead of being crammed with too much distracting content, it should contain just enough information to catch someone’s attention. You want them to glance at it quickly, and then shift their focus back to what’s most important—you.

Providing a Handout

Consider preparing a one-page handout for your audience to keep. You can email it to them right after the presentation. Your hiring manager will look at it afterwards to remind themselves of your presentation.

Your one-page handout should list your key points. Each point should include just a few sentences that summarize what you said. Use the handout to demonstrate your ability to explain something in a brief form as well as showcase the content of your presentation.

Having a Clear Structure

It will be easier for you to stay on track if you organise your presentation according to a specific structure.

Let’s say that your presentation will be on a piece of software you have designed. You can divide your presentation into four parts: what purpose is your software supposed to achieve, how it works, why you designed it in a particular way, and what the results were.

Before you kick things off, consider explaining to your audience how your presentation will be structured. It will make it easier for your audience to follow and remember your presentation.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to learn presentation skills is through practice. Start rehearsing your presentation as soon as you are done writing it and structuring it. If you can, record yourself practising.

Even better, practise it in front of friends or family. Then, you can ask them for feedback and adjust your presentation accordingly.

All of us have some nervous habits, such as fidgeting, or saying “um” and “like.” These can make your audience nervous for you.

Practice will allow you to get rid of these habits ahead of time. You don’t necessarily have to memorise your entire presentation. But you should be able to consciously avoid these habits if you run through your online presentation enough times.

Still, for some of us, this is easier said than done. If you are struggling to get rid of these habits, consider undergoing presentation skills training before your remote interview.

Getting and Keeping Your Audience’s Attention

Even though remote interview presentations are relatively short, your audience’s attention can easily lag. To bring distracted minds back to your presentation, you need a plan for re-engaging your audience’s attention. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Tell an anecdote that illustrates your point;

  • Ask a rhetorical or direct question;

  • Introduce a metaphor to bring a key point to life;

  • Provide a couple of examples to explain your point.

Acing the Delivery

Even though your appearance will be reduced to a small window on a computer screen, you still need to focus on the interview basics. These are: wearing a smile, carrying yourself with confidence, and dressing professionally.

Body language and eye contact are still important. To achieve eye contact while you are on a video call, look at the lens of your camera.


Giving a presentation is always nerve-wracking, let alone when it's a part of a remote interview. The key thing is to remember that every member of your audience wants you to succeed.

They know you have something of value to offer to them. That’s why they invited you to give a presentation. Show them exactly what it is by following the steps above.

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Leslie Gilmour

Best Places to Find Student Discounts

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Generally, students are at a financial disadvantage compared to those who have full-time jobs. But, just because you are a student, it doesn’t mean you have to be unequipped, hungry, or badly dressed.

Luckily, there are many businesses that realise that students are the future of our world, and are willing to help them out by offering them student discounts. From pizza delivery to train fares, you can get discounts on everything.

Here are some places where you can find student discounts and make the most of your budget during your studies.

Types of Student Discounts Cards and Codes

To be able to claim some student discounts, you may need to have some type of student discount card or code.

  • TOTUM (UK) - TOTUM can get you deals on travel, fashion, eating out, and more. TOTUM is the number one student discount card in the UK. It’s supported by the National Union of Students.

  • The International Student Identity Card—ISIC (worldwide) - This card is useful if you are planning on travelling abroad, or if you are an international student, because it is the only internationally recognised student ID.

  • UNiDAYS (UK, US, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand & Australia) - This platform makes getting student discounts online completely painless. The sign up is free, just make sure to use your academic email address when creating an account.

  • Student Beans - This platform is very similar to UNiDAYS. It also allows you to create an account for free, so it’s worth signing-up on both platforms.

Student Discounts for Clothing

  • Burton - Offers a 10% discount to students. You can verify your student status with UNiDAYs or Student Beans.

  • ASOS - Offers a 10% discount to students all year round. Occasionally, students can get a 25% discount. You can claim your discount with your student email address or UNiDAYS account.

  • French Connection - 10% off in-store and online purchases.

  • Urban Outfitters - 10% off purchases all year round.

  • Schuh - 10% off online and in-store purchases.

  • Topshop/Topman - You can use your Student Beans or UNiDAYS account to get 10% off all year-round.

  • Ellis Brigham - At the moment, Ellis Brigham offers up to 50% discounts on men’s and women’s clothing and footwear. These are for everyone, and not just for students, so claiming these discounts is as hassle-free as it can be.

  • River Island - You can use your Student Beans account to get a 10% year-round discount.

  • Office - 10% off online and in-store purchases.

Student Discounts for Food

  • Las Iguanas - From Sunday to Thursday, you can get 20% off food and drink bills.

  • Yo! Sushi - On Sundays, and from Tuesday to Friday, students can get 25% off dine-in food purchases through UNiDAYS.

  • Pizza Express - From Sunday to Thursday, students can enjoy 30% off all food and drinks. You can claim the discount through UNiDAYS or TOTUM.

  • Dominos Pizza - You can use your Student Beans account to unlock a 35% online discount off purchases over £25.

Student Discounts for Technology

  • Apple for Education - You can get up to 5% off when you purchase an iPad. You can get up to 10% off when you purchase a Mac computer or laptop.

  • Adobe - You can get 60% off Adobe Creative Cloud apps and services. These include Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro.

  • Microsoft - Students can get the whole Office suite for free. It includes apps such as Excel, Word, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, and PowerPoint. You can also get 10% off select PCs and Surface products.

  • HP - HP offers students up to 50% off online purchases through UNiDAYS.

  • Norton Security - The company allows students to save up to £46 on Norton antivirus and internet security systems.

Student Discounts for Travel

  • 16-25 Railcard - You can get 30% off standard rail fares by investing in a railcard.

  • National Express - If you are a full-time student, or just aged between 16 and 26, National Express’ Young Persons Coachcard gives you 33% off fully flexible and standard fairs. It also gives you 15% off travel to festivals and events. You can get the card for just £12.5 a year.

Student Discounts for Supplies

  • Paperchase - Students get 10% off printing and photocopying services in-store with UNiDAYS. They also get a 10% discount on items purchased online or in-store.

  • Foyles Bookshop - Foyles offers a 10% discount to students all year round, for both in-store and online purchases.

  • Amazon - You can get a 6-months free Amazon Prime trial. After your trial expires, you will get a 50% discount on the full membership. The membership will also give you access to the Kindle lending library.

  • Ryman Stationery - You can use your student card or UNiDAYS account to get 10% off online and in-store purchases. The discount includes printing, binding, and photocopying services.

Student Discounts for Health and Beauty

  • The Fragrance Shop - Students can get 15% off online purchases.

  • Superdrug - Superdrug offers a 10% student discount on in-store purchases.

  • Supercuts - You can use your student ID to get 10% off haircuts and services.

  • Boots Opticians -  Students get a 10% discount on their first pair of glasses, contact lenses, and prescription glasses. They also get 50% off every extra pair of glasses or prescription sunglasses.

Student Discounts for Media/Entertainment

  • Spotify - You can get Spotify’s Premium membership at half the price. Unlike the free membership, it allows you to download music to your device and listen to it offline.

  • Cineworld - Cineworld offers reduced-price tickets for students. However, the discounts vary between branches.

  • Odeon Cinemas - On top of the standard discounted ticket price for students, you can get an extra 25% off with a TOTUM card.

  • Apple Music - You can get a student membership for only £4.99 a month.

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Leslie Gilmour

The Power of Napping at During the Day

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 21 Jan 2020, 15:02

Many modern employees are all in favor of workplace amenities like ball pits, game rooms, yoga classes, open offices, and other quick diversions that are designed to improve productivity. But, while the jury is still out on the benefits of having an ice hockey table in the office, napping is scientifically proven to boost performance.

Benefits of Napping at Work

A 2008 Behavioral Brain Research study found that a nap is better than caffeine for improving perceptual learning, motor skills, and verbal memory. If you are performing high functioning tasks at work, a nap will benefit you more than a shot of espresso. Other benefits of napping include:

  • Increased stamina

  • Sharpened motor skills

  • Improved mood

  • Reduced fatigue

  • Increased alertness

Why We Need Naps

Today, the average working adult sleeps less and less. One of the reasons behind this is the increase in off-hour duties many employees face. Moreover, exposure to the ‘blue light’ coming from our laptops and smartphones is only making matters worse.

Our natural circadian rhythm is also partially to blame. A nice 20-minute nap can help you deal with the early afternoon slump of drowsiness and sluggish “post-lunch” performance.

Still, it’s important to note that a power nap is no replacement for a good night’s sleep. If you are having a hard time getting enough shut-eye at night, it may be best to use a blue light filter on your phone or laptop, try some sleep support supplements, do more exercise, or talk to a professional.

How to Take a Power Nap at Work

Find the Right Location

Your company may have awesome workplace amenities, but chances are it doesn’t have a designated sleeping area. Don’t let that stop you from taking your power nap. You still may be able to find a relaxing and isolated location at work that’s ideal for napping. Try one of the following places:

  • Your office. If you have an office of your own, you’re already way ahead of the game. Simply shut your door, turn off the computer, and put your phone into silent mode. If you plan to nap in your office often, consider stashing a pillow in your desk.

  • Your car. Your car could be even more comfortable than your office. Sneak out to your company parking lot to get some shut-eye during your coffee break. But, if there’s a lot of foot traffic there, consider parking your car a bit further from your office. If the area is noisy, you can always bring earplugs. Lower your car seat and enjoy your nap.

  • Conference room. An empty conference room is just as good as a personal office. To prevent accidental interruptions, make sure to reserve the room first.

  • Library. If there’s a library near your company, you’ve hit the jackpot. There’s little chance somebody will disturb you at a library as everyone is expected to talk quietly there.

  • Gym. Consider taking a nap before your daily workout. Many gyms have lounges that are perfect for napping.

Nap After Lunch

A quick siesta is sure to energize you for the rest of the workday. Around 1 PM, your natural body clock is in a sleep phase. Try to take advantage of that. If you can take a quick nap after lunch, it won’t disrupt your night-time sleep.

Create an Ideal Sleep Environment

For optimal sleep, you need a quiet room with no lights. Also, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 15°C and 20°C. You may not have a comfy, temperate room at your disposal, but try to find a place where you can close the shutters.

Keep it Short

The key to a good nap is to keep it short. If you sleep for too long, you risk entering the REM phase of sleep. To avoid that, keep your power nap under 30 minutes. A 15 to 20 minute nap is the sweet spot for most people.

Eat Right

Before your nap, it’s best to consume drinks and food that contain protein and calcium—like milk. Avoid consuming food or drinks that contain sugar, fat, caffeine, or carbohydrates as they can keep you awake.

Use Props

The key to napping at work is to fall asleep quickly. If you can nap in your car, an eye mask and a neck pillow can be of great help.

If those are not an option, bring something else to work that you associate with sleep, something subtle. For instance, you could put a few drops of lavender oil on your wrists or you could slip on a pair of cosy socks.

You could also install a white noise app on your phone. Try wearing breathable clothes as they are great for napping.


Incorporating a power nap into your workday is a great way to increase performance. Napping at work may seem tricky, but it gets easier once you establish a routine. If you feel weird about it, remember: science is on your side!

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Leslie Gilmour

Deciding on Your Career after University

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Graduating from University is the end of an era for sure, but also the beginning of a journey that can (and possibly will) mark the rest of your life. No pressure, right? 

While you may feel like the world will end if you don't have it all figured out upon throwing your graduation cap into the air, it really won't. Everyone's journey is different, and there are plenty of routes you can take after graduating. But how do you actually decide what you want to do after Uni?

If you haven't been set on particular career paths or haven't found any interests that trigger your curiosity and intent, there are a few strategies you can implement in figuring out what you want in life. Sitting a year out before committing to a career is also an option, just don't tell your parents we said that, okay?

Jokes aside, here are some potentially helpful tips to get you going and paint a picture of your financial future:

#1 Be honest with yourself

Almost everyone gets to the point of confusion with who they actually are and who they've been for longer than they can remember. Parents' expectations, social pressure, emotional and/or mental struggles, interests done out of habit, etc. can all be reasons for building a path you don't actually like as much as you should. And that's fine; you wouldn't be the first nor the last person to realize they aren't as passionate about a career as they thought they'd be upon graduation. It's called growth, and it's very brave. 

So, when you realize a thing you've been focused on for a while isn't working any longer, sit down with yourself, and be honest about what truly moves you. Make a list of things you see yourself doing, things that make your heart and mind sing. Once you do, weigh in your talents, habits, objective budget conditions, and similar to see where you stand. 

#2 Pick a Job that Interests You

Once you are done with the list of your likes, try finding jobs that agree with your preferences. Are you interested in working in content marketing? Go for it! Looking to be the next An Le or Elon Musk? Why not! Have a love for retail and customer service? Contact companies with these sectors open to see if they're hiring. Hoping to conquer Hollywood with your acting skills? Yes!

Have a neck for finances and want to build a career out of it? Sure! Financial advisors are a trending occupation with so many new businesses popping around like mushrooms. Plus, people always need advice on how to improve their finances, don’t they? You'll never be out of work with this career, that's for sure!

Match your skills with job titles, and start your journey to getting hired!

#3 Connect with Recruiters on Social Media 

Social media has long gone from being an entertainment platform to an all-comprising source of information, fun, business options, global business connectivity, and everything else in between. 

These days you'll notice it is easier to find a job online than by sending millions of applications to firms directly. This is your chance to use your love for social media for something other than filtering your daily habits on Instagram and getting liked for it. Use social media to connect with recruiters and get the latest scoop on what's happening in the business world. 

Presently, LinkedIn is the best business platform, and reaching out through it may be the best way to get connected to people who can help you get a job. LinkedIn community is pretty tight, with people being very open and helpful regarding virtually all topics and issues. The easiest way to go about LinkedIn is:

  • Build your LinkedIn profile by filling it with your references, experience, goals, and expectations

  • Post things regularly that are catchy and relevant

  • Engage in other people's posts

  • Widen your network of LN friends by connecting with them

You won't benefit from LN immediately after you join, though. It'll take some time until you build your base, but you'll get there. 

Other than that, don't neglect other platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as sources of potential job applications in your field. 

#4 Go to a Career Counselor

Sometimes, going to an expert for advice is the best thing you can do for yourself – whether we're talking career or anything else relevant in your life (e.g., mental health, relationship therapy, etc.). Career counselors exist for a reason, and they'll surely be happy to help you out. 

Go to the nearest job center for some career guidance. You'll probably get tests to fill out and have questions to answer but they're all going to be shortcuts to your final destination. Embrace this journey, you'll learn more from it than you can imagine!

Final Words

Deciding on your career after University doesn't have to be as hard as it appears to be. It's important you remember that you don't have to choose right away and that your future career doesn't need to be something related to your degree. Pick a thing that makes you happy and hopefully is profitable enough to match that happiness. 

Take your time, think things through, and go for it. Even if your career doesn't happen straight away, it's okay - it all comes to us when we're ready to receive it, after all. 

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Leslie Gilmour

How to Use Events to Build Your Network (Even While You are a Student)

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Why should you build your network? It is one of the most important assets that could help you grow your business, learn new skills, meet industry experts and thought leaders, bring your company to the next level, grow your membership, find new clients, uplift fundraising potential, and so much more.

Attending events is a great starting point for everything you want to achieve, and quite possibly a single most important activity that will help you grow your network and help you sharpen your networking skills.

Networking at events is especially important for freelancers, entrepreneurs, startup founders, and small business owners, so if you identify yourself as one of them, try attending as many live events as you can.

Please note: no one expects you to be a natural-born networker.

If you are an extrovert, it will come more easily and naturally for you to mingle and start a meaningful conversation with people you haven’t met before.

But even if you are an introvert, don’t shy away from events. Every conference you attend gives you an opportunity to present your business, meet new people, and grow your network of potential clients.

So let’s see how could you use events to accomplish your goals and shape up your networking skills.

Join Online Communities to Meet People Offline

You probably spend (way too much) time on the Internet, don’t you? And you are probably active on social media, right? Instead of endless, meaningless scrolls, use that time proactively to engage with online communities and advance your networking skills online.

Join Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

Besides learning about friends’ whereabouts, thoughts, and current feelings, join groups of your interest on social media. It can be a great way of e-meeting interesting people, peers, and industry leaders.

You can be a passive observer and follower until you become more confident to ask your own questions or leave your comments and answers. Either way, you will be networking without even noticing it.

Find Local Events

For finding events that are organized in your area of residence, you can join groups of your interest on the Meetup platform. You can browse groups by categories, such as Tech, Learning, Photography, Writing, Careers & Business, Social, and others, depending on your interest.

For instance, if you reside in London and you are into the tech industry, you can join groups such as Women in Tech London, London Tech and Beer, Sales for Tech Startups, Old Street Tech Talks, Digital Transformation: London, and many others. They all regularly organize events that you can attend and start building your network.

If you want to organize your own events and grow your community, you can start a new group on Meetup and take it from there.

If You Are a Business Owner

Live events, trade shows, and industry-specific conferences are a great opportunity for promoting your company, meeting potential customers in person, and building your network.

Brand Your Presence

If you are a trade show participant, make sure to come up with an interesting stand powered by branded banners, table cloths, display stands, and graphic panels. Make sure to arrange banner printing upfront to prepare everything on time.

Also, try to bring the whole team to the event, and organize valuable presentations of your latest products or service offers.

Make sure to advertise and announce your event presence upfront, so you can also arrange meetings with potential clients and people from your target audience on the spot.

Sponsor an Event

If your company is an industry leader, it would be a great idea to become an event sponsor, or even to organize your own conference.

That way, you’ll get the chance to put up branded banners all over the venue, get your company logo on every printed material for the event, and come with outdoors promotional assets, as well.

Go Global

There are so many valuable conferences, summits, and events happening all over the world. So, besides local events, you would want to consider attending a conference in another country, or even on a different continent. Those require a bit bigger financial investment, but they are worthwhile the effort.

Global events offer a tremendous opportunity to meet world-class experts in person, get to know them better and present yourself while also promoting your business.

You can go a step further and organize a global conference yourself. It will scale up your network big time. The experience you’ll gain from it is priceless.

Let’s say that you want to create an event in the heart of Europe. You might consider Prague, Chech Republic, for instance, as a city of rich cultural heritage and excellent venues specifically designed for conference tourism. Also, you can engage with an event management company, and rest assured knowing that experts will take the burden of event organization of your shoulders. 

Final Thoughts

Remember, you don’t need to be a seasoned professional to start networking and become a part of a community of like-minded people. That’s a fact.

You can – and should, as a matter of fact – start building your network while still in your studies. It will ease your career growth and help you keep up the pace with the industry you are going to work in.

Thanks to the Internet, everyone can easily learn about interesting events happening around the world. Find your favorites and start networking right away.

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Leslie Gilmour

5 Guidelines for Transitioning Into Your Chosen Career without Losing Your Mind

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Entering the turbulent waters of a new job market and into a field, you are not sufficiently familiar with can come across as tough prospects that have the ability to drive people positively mad. And this is completely true, of course.

Now, if you are one of the folks on their merry way toward jump-starting their career, you’ve come to the right place, alright!

In this here article, we’re going to talk about how you can go through this transitioning process without stressing too much over it. Truth be told, you can’t avoid the stress completely, but you can definitely do some things that would help you deal with it more efficiently.

So, here’s how to approach the sensitive transition into your new career.

5 Tips for Transitioning Into Your Chosen Career without Losing Your Mind

1) Make Sure You’re Sufficiently Skilled for Your New Career

If you were to operate a nuclear aircraft carrier without having any idea of how to operate a nuclear aircraft carrier, that would surely lead to some anxiety. The same goes for accounting, woodworking, repairing fridges, driving cars, and writing articles online in MS word.

Indeed, not having the necessary skills for the job you need to do would be one of the most disastrous situations that can befall a person entering a new professional field.

To prevent this, you have to do the obvious – fake it till you make it! No, not really. Simply ensuring your skillset is at the desirable level would suffice.

2) Connect to the Pool of People Already in Your New Profession

Nowadays, there are all sorts of forums out there on the Internet, where you can look up what different professionals are talking about. For example, if you’d like to become a translator, you can join a Facebook page for translators (in your target language, of course) and then you can see what the profession is like first hand.

You can see what the most difficult parts of the profession are, how the folks doing it are dealing with their problems as well as other things related to doing the job itself.

This can be a great way to determine whether or not you’re fit for the profession at hand, or a specific position within that profession.

3) Don't Be Afraid to Seek Support

Entering a new career is not a light prospect and wise people of yore have recognised this. So, to make sure people have more insight into what they’d like to do with their lives, these smart folks have ventured to organise structures such as career resource centres. You can also turn to a coach who can help you focus and overcome the hurdles that no doubt await you.

Many colleges have these inbuilt in the structure of the college itself, so you won’t really have a tough time finding these and connecting with them if you’re a student.

If you’re not a student, on the other hand, you can still reach out to one of these institutions and find out more about your designated career of choice before ever joining a workplace with that career. Grand stuff, indeed.

4) Try Shadowing Someone

Switching from college to work doesn’t mean you’ll just have to jump into a new position without ever knowing what awaits at the other end. In fact, there are multiple ways you can figure out if a job would suit you once you get employed.

For example, you can ask a friend who’s already in the business, inform yourself online by visiting a forum, or simply ask to shadow someone for a day. What you’d need to do pretty much amounts to doing their work for a day to see how you like it. If you find the whole thing favourable, you can apply for a position at that company.

If you don’t like it, you’ve saved yourself some nasty contract breaches and other problems down the road! What’s not to love?

5) Volunteer

This entry is fairly similar to the previous one, with the difference that you won’t be doing exactly the job you’re interested in, but a watered-down version of it.

Volunteering, in general, allows you to connect to likeminded people, get a general idea of how you like what you’re doing, and do some humanitarian work, as well. Of course, you need to make sure your volunteering work is in the same vein of work as your job position of choice.

There isn’t much use trying to figure out if you like accounting by volunteering for delivering calves at a cow farm, now is there?

All things considered, getting ready for your treading down your career path is no easy feat. It requires proper skills on your part, preparation, and perhaps a little support from the outside. Bottom line, as long as you’re willing to learn and work (and are not woefully underskilled), you’ll be good to go!

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Leslie Gilmour

What Will the Future of Employment Look Like?

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The introduction and rapid rise of automation have led to the popular debate about the state of future jobs. We have seen the impact technology can have on our day-to-day work activities and the labour market, thus, it’s not difficult to understand why few people are confident about their long-term career plans. The young generation of would-be workers isn’t immune to the fear of automation either. Nearly 40% of young people in developed nations are concerned that their jobs will fall into the hands of automation by 2026.

Oxford University’s popular research article, The Future of Employment, indicates that several occupations will be exposed to automation, but this won’t necessarily lead to job loss. Luckily, the upcoming generation of workers has gained early exposure to the advanced technology set to revolutionise the labour market, and we’ll help by illustrating ways the landscape of employment will change in the future. 

  1. 1. More Skills Needed

The future of employment will bring about significant changes driven by a need to redefine how we view work rather than the elimination of jobs. Working in the age of automation would, therefore, introduce the labour market to new jobs and existing occupations that require advanced skill sets. To adapt to these future scenarios, current and future workers are likely to need extensive training in order to not fall behind the curve. 

While it’s easy for us to think that more technical skills will be needed in the future, skills such as team management, communication, and creativity will be at the forefront of human-driven skills. Outside of that, we’ll leave it to the robots to take on the tasks which are repetitive and predictable. 

Fortunately, a McKinsey Global Institute 2016 study found that it will take at least two decades before automation reaches 50% of job activities. That puts the upcoming generation of workers at a slight advantage as they will have ample time to seek out new skills in preparation for the future. 

  1. 2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Soar 

AI has been the culprit behind much of the debate surrounding the future of employment thanks to the numerous roles that are subject to automation or are automatable. Jobs such as telemarketers, cashiers, fast food cooks, and loan officers are just some of the positions that are the least safe in the coming years. However, it doesn’t mean that machines will take over and that will be the end of the job market as we know it. 

Humans, especially those in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field are still responsible for AI creation and training of these machines. Worry not, because remember that jobs such as data analysts weren’t around before the digital disruption era. Thus, we can expect the emergence of new roles as the labour market further integrates with AI

  1. 3. The Growth of Remote Work 

While societies in emerging economies are familiar with independent work for extra cash, it’s probable that down the line, more workers can benefit from this job style. Should automated jobs take precedence, people would have more time to focus on self-employment as well as remote work. 

The labour market is seeing a new occupation – digital nomads – that benefits from a borderless world during the digital age where travelling, earning a living, and freedom become the perks. Platforms such as Uber, Etsy, and Zalora have opened the gateway to self-employment in many countries, thus shifting what we typically consider a traditional job. 

Considering that the next generation of workers is increasingly inclined to ditch the conventional job structure, digitally enabled jobs may just be the most exciting trend set to happen in the years to come. 

  1. 4. Job Search Precision

Technological adoption is set to lead the way when it comes to the recruitment process where job searching will be conducted online. LinkedIn has taken the lead in this trend by tapping into the global workforce and allowing its platform to fulfil an employer’s hiring needs. Job boards are bound to become increasingly irrelevant as more social networking sites provide an interactive and attractive way of showcasing one’s professional credentials.

The use of social networking websites will essentially enable greater precision in the recruitment process for both the employer and potential candidate. The benefit of this is simple – a better match between the job skills and talent would enhance the labour market through higher productivity level and greater efficiency. 

Full-Steam Ahead

In the same way that today’s recruitment process has become dynamic, so will the future of employment. It’s nearly impossible to escape or slow down the pace at which technology is being implemented in our daily activities. We have entered an era where there is more to gain by embracing a fast-moving and ever-changing society, thus, the homework for future workers is to adapt and assimilate before the future arrives.

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Leslie Gilmour

Effective and Efficient Language Learning Tips to Have in Mind

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A different language is a different vision of life, said Federico Fellini.

Apart from providing you with a new perspective on life, learning a new language is beneficial for developing your creativity, problem-solving skills, and analytical skills. It’s also a great exercise for your brain, as according to research studies polyglots start suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s on average four and a half years later than those who speak only one language. 

Being multilingual significantly improves your career opportunities, as you’ll be able to apply for different jobs. This particularly applies to situations in which one of the languages you speak is English.

Finally, learning a new language is fun, and it will help you understand other cultures better, as well as help you gain a new, more profound understanding of your own culture.

Here are some tips that will make the process of learning English, or any other new language, much easier.

Set Realistic Goals

Learning a foreign language is a process, and it takes time to get into the swing of all the new words, rules, and accents.

So, don’t bite off more than you can chew, because it’s much easier to get frustrated and give the whole idea of a new language if you don’t progress as quickly as you planned.

It’s important to understand that you’ll be making numerous mistakes in the beginning and that it will take some time until you’re fluent in English no matter how hard you try.

Set realistic goals and don’t push yourself too hard if you don’t want language-learning to become a chore.

Polish Your Grammar

Rules are meant to be broken, but in order to do so, you first need to learn and understand them.

English grammar isn’t the most complicated in the world, but you’ll have your fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to articles, prepositions, and uncountable nouns.

Many people make a mistake of avoiding grammar and focusing on other language elements instead, but if you really want to learn a language, you need to know its rules.

Yes, it takes a lot of memorising, drills, and learning by heart, but once you get to the bottom of the most basic concepts, things will start to become much clearer.

So, grab your grammar book and learn why the past simple tense of William Shakespeare is Wouldiwas Shookspeared.

Study Regularly

This is one of the most important rules when it comes to learning a new language, or anything else for that matter.

What you should do is make a learning plan and stick to it.

Only if you seriously commit and dive into your new language on a daily basis will you be able to establish consistency necessary for acquiring new words and rules, memorising them, and “activating” the passive knowledge you’ve been amassing.

Tap Into the Power of Books, Songs, and Movies

This is a very important segment of learning a new language.

By consuming different kinds of content in English by reading books, listening to songs, and watching movies, you’ll accelerate the process.

These activities will help you put all the things you learn in a context, understand how native speakers use the language, and identify certain linguistic patterns.

Besides, these resources are a goldmine of information when it comes to learning new words as well as informal speech or slang and picking up the accent.

Have Conversations in English

Don’t shy away from using English even if your language is riddled with errors and mispronunciations, because that’s the way to eliminate them.

Having an hour of conversation is said to be more valuable than five hours you spend in a classroom learning a new language.

Putting yourself out there and engaging in numerous conversations with other people will help you hone your language skills.

This practice will force you to start using everything you have learned and do it quickly, as the interactive nature of a face-to-face conversation doesn’t allow you to check your dictionary or grammar book before composing your sentence.

That someone can sometimes be yourself.

Yes, there’s nothing wrong in talking to yourself in English and trying to come up with meaningful sentences and arguments for your one-on-one conversation.

Travel to England

 Nothing quite compares to learning and using a new language in its natural surroundings.

That’s why a trip to England is a must if you want to immerse yourself in English.

Real-life experiences make all the difference because you’ll get to meet new people who are native speakers and with whom you’ll have to speak in English. Besides, you’ll also learn more about their history, culture, and way of life.

If you want to add an adventurous twist to your language-learning efforts, travel to Cornwall as this picturesque county situated in South West England. It’s almost completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, which means that you’ll spend a great deal of time outdoors, enjoying its long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and breathtaking scenery.

By opting for an English Language School in Cornwall, you’ll also get an opportunity to take a Poldark tour, visit World Heritage Sites such as historic castles and museums, take a hot-air balloon ride, or even learn how to surf.

Get Used to Being Corrected

As scary as it may seem, making mistakes and being corrected is the right way of learning a new language.

Don’t be put off by and don’t let this hurt your self-esteem. Learning from your mistakes and a trial-and-error approach will set you on the right track, but before you are able to perceive all the nuances of English, you’ll be involved in a lot of miscommunication.

Idioms and phrasal verbs are particularly tricky, so be prepared for many mix-ups and funny linguistic accidents. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to immediately grasp the difference between through, thorough, though, thought, and tough.

But, you’ll get there eventually.

Being persistent and motivated are the key factors in the language-learning process. And whatever you do, make sure to never refrain yourself from using English out of fear that you’ll mispronounce a word or say something silly.
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Leslie Gilmour

How Safe & Reliable is the Internet?

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A few years ago a story about an elderly lady who allegedly trained her 65 cats to steal from her neighbours spread throughout social media.

And this is just one among many examples that baffle the internet users, some of whom don’t immediately realise that they’re dealing with fake news, invented with the purpose of entertainment (although sometimes there are other motives such as financial, political, or social).

And a little fun never hurt anybody, right?

As a matter of fact, this is a debatable question.

Similarly, a commercial stat saying that “80% of dentists recommend Colgate” and which the company was subsequently banned from using, was a manipulation – dentists recommended other brands as much as Colgate. According to surveys, Americans believe that two-thirds of news on social media is misinformation.

No wonder this is so when the phenomenon of creating and circulating fake news and doctored stats has brought about much confusion among the internet users as it’s sometimes really hard to figure out how reliable a source is and whether stats and research results are legit. This can be particularly complicated when you have a research paper to write.

Here’s how to make sure that your data is accurate and verified.

Run a Background Check on the Website

Before you decide to use a certain website for study materials and quote it as a source in your paper, you need to establish its credibility and trustworthiness. 

There are a couple of easy tricks that will help you make a conclusion:

  • Is it ridden with spelling and grammar mistakes? If the answer is yes, then it’s a red flag that the source in question is of dubious credibility.
  • Who’s the author of the publication? If you can’t find a name or contact details, you can as well ask yourself why the person has chosen to be so vague about that, and that’s not a good sign. By providing their credentials, authors show that they’re transparent, as well as that they stand behind their words.
  • Are there any references to the author elsewhere? If the person has authored other publications and if they’re cited on different relevant and trustworthy websites, then it’s likely that you can safely use their work for your research purposes. People who are experts in their field are usually cited and mentioned frequently in papers and texts of other scholars, meaning that they in a way vouch for them.
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable organisation or academic institution? This is a good sign, because, MIT, for example, wouldn’t allow being affiliated with a charlatan or a questionable source.
  • Are the sources the author cited reliable and trustworthy? If the author corroborates his ideas by providing links to shady websites, skip that publication.

These are some of the first steps that you have to take if you’d like to use a certain website as a source.

What About Wikipedia?

Although you’ll hear that many people don’t exactly prefer Wikipedia as a source, the fact is that it’s one of the most comprehensive sources on the internet – the digital encyclopedia has more than 5.7 million articles in English.

While it’s true that registered members can provide and edit articles, which sometimes leads to incorrect and invalid information, the community very quickly reacts and such, usually intentional, misinformation is quickly corrected. However, certain articles, especially those concerning historical and political facts, tend to be biased.

But this source can be the first step in your research and provide you with a general overview of the

topic you’re dealing with as it can direct you towards different perspectives and useful sources which are listed below every article. A good rule of thumb is to check out Wikipedia articles but take certain things with a pinch of salt and explore them in more detail on other websites.

So, the main takeaway point would be to always double-check every source.

Trace Back the Information to the Primary Sources

You should always try to follow the trail of citations and identify the primary sources of the information you use.

As different pieces of information are being passed on, they are altered, corrupted, and misinterpreted, which leads to a certain kind of academic Rashomon effect. 

This means that the version of the information you find might differ significantly from the original, which is why you need to set the record straight.

We tend to rely on curated content and other people’s overviews and accounts of a particular research study or situation, but it’s best to look for the original and take the whole context into consideration, especially when we’re dealing with sensitive or frequently disputed matters.

Use Different Source Types

In an attempt to ensure that your paper is accurate and well-researched, you can easily make it dry and uninteresting.

That’s why it’s a good idea to go beyond these traditional sources and pep things up with newspaper articles, magazines, interviews, private archives, scholarly journals, as well as different audio and video recordings.

The only problem might be the fact that certain journals and scientific magazines are accessible only to U.S. audiences. This obstacle can be easily overcome by using a reliable VPN service which can override such location-based limitations and allow you to dive into a wealth of interesting information.

Tap into Google Scholar

If you want to browse scholarly literature, then Google’s freely accessible academic search engine can help you with that.

Google Scholar’s database boasts around 389 million records, including research studies, papers, abstracts, technical reports and countless other types of documents available in digital and physical formats.

Certain articles and publications are free while others have to be paid for in order to be accessed in full. This service uses Google’s algorithm to rank search results, meaning that it lists the most relevant results based on the author’s ranking, the number of citations, as well as the ranking of the publication that the article appears in.

So, if you want to play it safe, then Google Scholar is a must.

One would think that living in a global and highly digital village means that every information is easily accessible and verifiable, but it turns out that the Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds hoax is still a very likely scenario in this day and age. That’s why it’s important to know your sources well and use these tips to find reliable and legitimate information for academic purposes.

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Leslie Gilmour

How to Get a Job in the Event Planning Industry

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Event planning is one of those industries that many young people want to get into, but might not be quite sure how to set about it. Staging your own events is a great learning curve, but it may be hard work to begin with as you build your name and reputation. Interning with an established company is often the best way to enter the industry, as you’ll gain exposure to a huge variety of things in a short space of time. Here’s how you can make this pathway to your new career work for you:

Do What You Love

Ask anyone who works in events and they’ll tell you that you really have to live and breathe what you do. There’s no use going into it halfheartedly, because you just won’t have the motivation to give it your all when the deadlines are looming.

Choosing event planning as your new career only works if you love what you do. You’ll find that the passion you have for getting everything just right allows you to push on late into the night when you need to. Ideal if you want to get that all-important second wind that ensures no stone is left unturned in the days leading up to the big occasion.

Show Enthusiasm

Being enthusiastic is one of the best ways to get noticed and take your career to the next level. You never want to cross the line and come across as over-familiar, but you do need to show willingness to go the extra mile whenever possible. There is always something to be done, and often there’ll be fairly straightforward and unglamorous tasks that more experienced hands will try and avoid. If you get a reputation as someone who’s willing to get the job done no matter what, you’ll get more and more responsibility and before you know it, you’ll be a sought-after member of the team.

Be Proactive

Being proactive is the perfect way to get yourself noticed. This goes for applying for jobs, and during your internships and work placements. If you notice that there’s a small job that can easily be taken care of, then jump right in and get it done. Run it past someone more senior so that they know what you’re doing and then let the results speak for themselves.

Make it a regular habit and you’ll be able to gain a reputation as someone who gets the job done with the minimum of fuss. And they’re just the sort of people that every team needs when planning a major event at a short notice!

Learn in Real World Settings

The classroom and the lecture theatre are great because they expose you to all manner of new concepts, but there’s nothing like putting things into practice to really master your craft.

Seek out ways to gain hands-on experience and you’ll be a much more attractive prospect as a future hire. With so many employers looking for people that really stand out, there’s no better way to put yourself front and centre than by showing that you have already gotten stuff done in the real world. Nobody’s expecting you to have hosted your own music festival, but by getting some practical experience, you’ll have already shown how much you want a career in the industry. It’ll also mean you can provide references which is something every employer will really like.

You can also always check out the work of established event planners like Kevin Rowe, and use them as an inspiration for your own future work – just make sure you don’t turn into a copycat.

Have Confidence in Yourself

Getting the opportunities that your hard work deserves is as much about believing in yourself as it is about getting that all-important lucky break.

If you have confidence in what you do, you’re far more likely to be seen as the safe pair of hands that every event planning company needs onboard. Sit back and write a quick list of your achievements and remind yourself of them on a regular basis so that your confidence grows and you can continue to move forward.

Remember That Criticism is Invaluable Feedback

One thing is for sure: there will be things you can improve on when you start working in events. In fact, even the most seasoned professional will get things wrong from time to time or have to ask for assistance from a colleague. There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s no shame in it, and the only stupid questions are the ones that never get asked.

The secret is to never take criticism or suggestions on how you could have done something better personally. People want the event to go off without a hitch which means that when something needs changing, it has to be highlighted, discussed, and corrected.

Take onboard everything you’re told and hear and you’ll soon find that your skills grow beyond all recognition.

Enjoy the End Product

Too many people get so caught up with making sure that everything is perfect that they forget to enjoy the event itself. You’re going to have to be a lot more proactive than if you were a guest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand back at some point and take pride in what you’ve achieved.

By putting yourself in the position of one of your guests, you’ll also be able to see what little tweaks and adjustments you could make next time around. These are the little things that can really set you apart as you build your career.

Build a Portfolio

A portfolio is something that everyone in events has and it’s basically your business card. Make sure you detail the projects you’ve contributed to during your placements so that you can give future prospective employers a taste of what you can do. Take pride in it and over the years you’ll be able to look back on some of the great things you’ve done in your career.

Now that you know what you need to do to get your dream job, all that remains is to go out there and do it. Stay motivated, be proactive, and show everyone what you can do and you’ll go far.

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Leslie Gilmour

What it Takes to Become an Architect

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 5 Jun 2018, 13:46

Becoming an architect takes a whole lot of commitment, dedication and desire. Being an architect is a serious professional career; nobody pursues it just because they like to draw or because they think it sounds fun. There is so much more to being an architect than many think and it is no easy process.

Architecture is regarded by many as a multi-discipline career. That is because being an architect is not just about being a good designer, but being a good mathematician and having a scientific way of thinking too.

You cannot simply design a building and hire a construction company to throw it up, either. Planning permissions, building codes and engineering costs all feature heavily in an architect’s career and you need to know all about them.

How do I become an Architect?

This is, of course, the question which you have come here to find the answer for. In Ireland, the title ‘architect’ is protected by legislation and only those with their names on the Register of Architects can use it.

With everything you need to learn, becoming an architect takes a number of years in education and undergoing specialist training. The requirements vary around the world, but in Ireland, the requirements stipulate that –

  • You must graduate with a prescribed degree in architecture
  • Undergo two years’ postgraduate professional training
  • Complete a professional practice examination mandated by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

To put things into perspective, a prescribed degree in architecture lasts for five years of full-time studies which can easily turn into six years if you elect to take a year out for industrial work placement.

It is a huge commitment, so you need to be absolutely sure that being an architect is the right career for you. If you are up for it academically and know that it is what you want to do, it is a very rewarding and challenging career where no one day is the same.

Three Reasons to Become an Architect

Looking around online, there is a lot of talk about the negative sides of being an architect such as the huge amount of study, the competition for industrial placements and jobs and the long hours that you will work. Instead, let’s look at some of the reasons to pursue a career in architecture.

Simply put, architecture is amazing

Whilst studying at university, you are taught to be a problem solver and use design, construction and history to solve them. It changes the way you think, the way you look at the world and the way you interact with others. Studying at architecture school fine-tunes your brain and makes you think like an architect.

Architecture is a huge industry

And it is constantly growing. The internet, technology and computers have completely transformed the way in which the architecture industry operates and how the profession itself is practiced. It has grown beyond just being a career to an artform in its own right, with thousands of online blogs, vlogs and resources. You can even choose to explore internships or jobs in industry-related companies, such as Corell Timber – or even just talk to different employees to gain a vaster knowledge of the industry as a whole.

The best part of the architecture industry is that it is so vast and dynamic; there is plenty of work available for everybody and no one project is the same. In an architecture career, you can thrive based off of your own unique skills and strengths, rather than having to change yourself to suit the idea of a ‘perfect architect’ because there is no such thing.

Architecture lets you do what you love for the rest of your life

As the saying goes, if you choose a job which you love then you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If architecture is your one true passion, then there is no reason why you cannot do it for the rest of your life.

The architectural career is held in high esteem, it is universally recognised as a professional career with high standards which attracts some of the world’s brightest young minds. As an architect, you will probably meet clients who are truly influential and well-known figures themselves, which reflects just how high-brow an architectural career can be.

Many of today’s most innovative housing and other construction products will have far-reaching positive effects on people for decades to come; it is a profession which truly does its best to help people and that is truly satisfying.

Is it All Fun and Games?

No, but no career is. There are plenty of downsides to becoming an architect, just like there are with any professional career.

Architecture is a career known for having very long hours; the design process can often be lengthy and drawn out. In architectural school and the professional working environment, pulling all-nighters working on projects is the norm. Of course, this type of working environment does not attract everybody – architects included – so there are plenty of firms who adopt a fairly normal Monday to Friday 9 to 5 pattern of working. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to work more hours than normal.

As you have already seen, there is a lot of school involved. If you compare becoming an architect to becoming a doctor or lawyer, you will see that there is just as much – if not more in some cases – school involved. Lawyers typically qualify after six years, doctors after seven whereas some architects can be in education and internships for as many as eight years.

Something you may not have considered is that your career will be in the hands of how the economy is performing. Although this is something regularly overlooked, it is a key consideration. Who is going to be investing in new construction projects when the economy is weak or going through a financial meltdown? Nobody, that’s the answer. Although this is something you’re not going to have to worry about until you are an actual architect, it is still worth thinking about as it can impact your work and overall job security, especially if you’re an independent and not working for a firm.

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Leslie Gilmour

Why We All Need Social Media Training

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It is impossible to ignore the central role which social media platforms now play in our modern and digitally-connected world. In fact, you have most likely used social media recently in some form and you’ve probably clocked significant hours on popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat within the last week.

Lots of people spend many hours per day scrolling through news feeds, looking at Instagram pictures and watching Snapchat stories. Social media is quickly becoming the primary means by which people find news and information and it is no surprise, given that Facebook’s and Twitter’s audience in the UK is 40 and 20 million respectively.

Unfortunately, it is widely recognised that social media is playing an increasingly important role in the daily lives of everybody across the globe, and there are plenty of people ready to take advantage of the trust people place in social media.

The Growth of Fake News

Fake news is not just a soundbite dreamt up by the likes of Donald Trump to paint the media in a negative light, it is actually a real and serious problem which plagues social media platforms relentlessly.

One of the biggest issues facing the digital era is fake news, but what is it? Fake news, generally, is content which is created with deliberate factual inaccuracies and exaggerated stories, in order to mislead people and drum up anger or spread stories to promote the author’s interests.

It is something which has spread like wildfire since the establishment of social media and its growth in popularity; social media is a platform on which fake news stories can easily be disseminated to a massive audience who are willing to eat it up and take it as fact.

According to analysis from Facebook itself, fake news stories were engaged with more and gathered a more powerful response than the leading news stories from almost 20 leading news outlets during the peak of the US Presidential Election in 2016.

Spinning, lies and misinformation have been around since the dawn of journalism, but fake news is an entirely different beast. Because of social media’s unique algorithms and their relationship with advertising systems, there is no shortage of people prepared to whip up some falsified stories and target a gullible audience to make some quick cash.

Fake News is a Real Problem

By the end of the 2016 US Presidential Election, fake news had become something of a tsunami and had clear, resonating impacts. It was not just social spam anymore, but political clickbait used to lure millions of Facebook and Twitter users into sharing provocative lies in a bid to make some quick and easy cash.

Some of the more famous ‘political clickbait’ fake news stories include claims that the Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton had sold weapons to the so-called Islamic State and that Pope Francis had endorsed Republican candidate Donald Trump.

All of this fake news was circulating through a network of social media outlets which allowed partisan attacks and propaganda to spread uncontrollably. But, because many people are willing to take things at face value without critical analysis, it worked.

This sort of behaviour is nothing new, but we now live in a world of elaborate technologies with unprecedented ecosystems and infrastructures, which allow the easy creating, uploading, commenting, sharing and spreading of manipulative and falsified stories on a global scale to a global audience, like never before.

Solutions to this problem are not so clear-cut; it is not a simple fix. Even if the algorithms and artificial intelligence behind social media could filter out fake news and fabricated stories with complete accuracy – but they can’t and probably never will – we still cannot force people to think critically and deduce when something is falsified themselves.

Social Media Training

If it is not something which social media engineers are able to solve, then what can be done? The current solution to the widespread fake news problem starts with you, us, the users of social media.

Social media training is one of the best solutions to the current fake news problem. By teaching people to fact-check articles with reputable sources of information, teaching media literacy and helping people understand how to recognize bias and falsified information on their own, we can take a great step in reducing the impact and hold which fake news currently has.

Users of social media should be helped to evaluate and critically analyse what they are seeing. Facebook has taken steps to help promote this, and in August of 2017, they announced that publishers now have the option to display their logos beside their headlines. This is important because people are generally less likely to remember or even know the source of a news story when they read about it through social media.

Spotting fake news is not the easiest thing to do, but it is not impossible either. A basic level of social media training can go a long way to help users of social media spot and disregard fake news stories, or stories with deliberately falsified information.

A good social media training program will first make its participants aware of fake news, the many forms it can take, the problems it causes and then how to spot it. When faced with a piece of information which could be falsified or fake news, social media users should ask themselves the following questions –

·         Are other reputable news sites publishing the story?

·         Does the publisher’s website have a proper website domain?

·         Is the source known to be shady?

·         Are its other stories sensical and non-incredulous?

Generally speaking, if it is an outlandish story which appears to be trying to drum up anger, spread a hateful message or just has a plain weird headline which is unusually strange or hard to believe, it is probably fake news.

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Leslie Gilmour

Do CCTV Cameras Reduce Crime?

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Following on from my last post asking the question - Do CCTV Cameras Make Us Feel Safer, I decided to do some research on their actual effectiveness.

Governments are now spending millions of dollars on closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems with the interest of reducing crime rates. The idea is to use these monitoring systems to identify potential perpetrators. It is also intended to deter criminals from committing crimes with the sight of cameras recording every scene. Despite most governments’ stand defending this spending as a necessity for public order, researchers do not seem to support this perception. (note the follow does not alway apply to remote CCTV monitoring that is live warning enabled)

Doubts on CCTV’s ability to lessen crime frequency are now spreading as studies on CCTV effectiveness increase in numbers. In 2015, Lincoln’s Police Chief said their department did not see any significant contribution of CCTV’s to their overall effort of stemming criminal activities in the city. Even after incorporating this surveillance system to their police activities, the number of assaults in the city still remained on par with their five (5) year average. The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NARCO), claimed that although well-planned CCTV can definitely contribute in crime prevention its effectiveness is often overstated. 

In 2013 an opinion piece of the Chicago Tribune quoted a city spokesman who claimed that the surveillance system helped the city solve 4,500 crimes over four years. The Chicago Tribune writer, however, was able to note that more than a million crimes have been estimated to have taken place within that period. Which means that the systems’ contribution at best was just around 0.05%. A study by NARCO featured an evaluation of 24 CCTV systems in housing estates, town centers, public transport, and car parks. Only thirteen (13) of the CCTV systems resulted in a significant drop in crime. Seven (7) of them showed no effect while the remaining four (4) resulted in a significant rise in crime rates. There is even evidence that pointed out that the biggest falls in crime linked to CCTV happened before the cameras were operational.

Also according to a review from the British Home Office, CCTV had only shown a negligible four (4) percent decrease in crime. Some areas in Glasgow, Scotland even had a nine (9) percent crime rate increased after the cameras were installed. These monitoring systems also have the tendency to cause unintended results. One of these unintended results is what is now called the “displacement effect”. This when the heightened security of an area caused by CCTV presence moves the criminal activities to areas with less remote surveillance. This, therefore, offsets the lowered crime rate in a certain location. 

One of biggest concerns apart from CCTV’s seemingly underwhelming contribution to crime prevention is its cost. NARCO claims that despite the government and public’s support in increasing CCTV capabilities, there is still no substantive and quality evidence that supports the measure’s efficiency. Around 1996 to 1998, CCTV took three-quarters of the Home Office Crime Prevention budget. NARCO’s expressed its concern that we may have just been preferring CCTV to other more cost-efficient measures like proper street lighting. Rachel Armitage, of NARCOs’ crime and social policy unit, claimed that an adequately lit street is safer than a dark alley monitored by CCTV. NARCO cautioned that we may be over-investing in the cameras. This investment could be shifted to more effective measures. According to NARCO streetlights might be four (4) times as good in deterring criminals as CCTV. In addition, the said organization claims that the main reason why people like having CCTV is that the police endorses this system. The greater security is, therefore, a mere state of mind. It is also expected to die down without the constant CCTV system publicity that fuels its popularity.

CCTV systems also worry some people as it affects privacy to a certain degree. Cameras don’t just record criminals, they record everyone’s activities. Not everyone is comfortable with the government having a “god’s eye system” that’s capable of documenting its citizens’ personal events. For some, having to experience the inconvenience of cameras monitoring them would not worth it if does not deliver on lowering crime rates. 

Despite all of these concerns on CCTV monitoring, a significant number of people are still insisting that the surveillance system is a necessity in implementing law and order. While its effectiveness in deterring crimes is currently in question, people still put a lot of trust in its capability to document situations. Having records on situations gives law enforcers’ advantage in tracking down assailants. 

Some argue that CCTV’s effectiveness in deterring crimes should be expected as the main advantage of installing cameras is not being able to stop crimes. It is for the user to be able to solve crimes. With this said, its level of contribution to law and order should be dependent on the effectivity of how the system is being used. Since technology needs to be applied appropriately to situations, we should focus on effective surveillance practices instead of declaring cameras impractical. 

Some also argue that measuring police surveillance is a complicated process as there could be a lot of factors involved in the increase or decrease in the crime rates. The increase in crime occurrences in areas with CCTV might have been caused by the surge in the number of documented criminal activities captured by the surveillance system. A number of vague variables like the one mentioned affecting the credibility of the previous studies. The Home Office Research Group in the United Kingdom was even reported to have discarded twenty-four (24) evaluations from Europe and North America because they identified errors in their methods. 

With these complications and varying opinions, it is high time that we do more studies on our surveillance systems. We should work on identifying gray areas that might have been overlooked in the previous evaluations. Additional assessments could also contribute as their results may act as additional evidence on CCTV’s underwhelming effectiveness. The Home Office and the Department for Transport, Local Government and Regions have been committed to commissioning in-depth studies that are designed to effectively assess the cameras’ contribution on implementing law and order. The surveillance system’s cost-effectiveness is also being reviewed.

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What Are the Effects of Drug Abuse on Academic Performance?

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 15 Aug 2017, 10:58

Drug abuse is a real problem in the school environment which affects students between the ages of 13 and 24. A recent survey funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that in 2016, nearly a quarter (23%) of 8th graders have consumed more than a few sips of alcohol, 9.4% have used marijuana, and 5% have used other illicit drugs. The use of legal and illegal substances persists throughout high school and college, increasing their risk for drug abuse. Due to these risks, parents, school faculty, and students should be aware what are the effects of drug abuse on academic performance.

The Most Common Drugs Abused By Students

Students abuse a wide range of legalized substances, illicit drugs, prescription medication, and over-the-counter drugs. Each affects student performance in a different way, mainly because of their unique chemical constituents. Let us take a look at the most common drugs abused by students, and how they affect students’ academic performance.


Alcohol is the most widely abused, legalized substance among students of all ages. Despite the recent decline of alcohol use in teenagers, the likelihood of abusing it continues to increase with age.

According to Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study supported by NIDA, 4% of 8th graders, 11% of 10th graders, and 17% of 12th graders were reported to binge drink within the last two weeks before the survey. For their age, this means consuming 3 or more drinks consecutively. 6 out of 10 admitted to consuming alcohol before finishing high school, and almost half (46%) of 12th graders said they’d been drunk at least once in their lifetime. Alcohol abuse is most prevalent in college campuses where 32% of students engage in binge drinking.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Academic Performance

Research shows that a person’s brain continues to develop until the early 20s. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that underage alcohol consumption may have negative effects on the brain’s development and alter its structure and function. As a result, learning problems may arise and a student’s academic performance will be less than optimal.

A study by the NIAAA shows college students who binge drink and consumed alcohol at least 3 times a week were 5 to 6 times more likely to miss a class and do poorly on a test or project. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the same problems with underage and college drinking, citing poor or failing grades, higher absence rates, and memory problems as direct consequences to their school performance. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, 40% of academic problems and 28% of college dropouts every year are caused by alcohol.

There are several reasons why alcohol affects school performance. Jeff Georgi, coordinator of Duke University’s Alcohol and Addictions Program, cited that alcohol impairs memory and learning ability, and disrupts quality sleep which is necessary for creating long-term memories.  


As of 2016, the annual prevalence of marijuana among adolescents was 9.4% of 8th graders, 23.9% of 10th graders, and 35.6% of 12th graders. Meanwhile, as much as 4.6% of full-time college students used marijuana everyday in 2015.

Effects of Marijuana on Academic Performance

One study shows that marijuana use reduces a person’s capacity for learning, memory, and attention by suppressing the activity of neurons which are necessary for staying attentive and focused. The worst part is that it could take days to weeks for these effects to wear off. This is why students who smoke marijuana everyday suffer from reduced intellectual capacity most, if not, all of the time. Students who regularly smoked marijuana also had poorer educational outcomes and were less likely to graduate than those who didn’t smoke marijuana.

Prescription Drugs

Students abuse prescription medications for various reasons. For instance, stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin enhance brain activity, increase alertness and attention, and improve energy levels. Because of these, students usually take them to help with their studies or as a replacement for cocaine. Sedatives and tranquilizers like Ambien, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax are taken by students to help them relax since they slow down the brain’s function – much like the “date rape” drugs Rohypnol and GHB. Opioid analgesics such as Methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin are usually abused in place of heroin since they mimic the drug’s effects.

Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse on Academic Performance

While some prescription drugs are used by students to improve their performance in school, using them for non-medical reasons has generally been associated with academic problems. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2009) shows that 21% of high school students who received C’s, and  41% of high who received D’s and F’s for grades, took prescription drugs without a prescription. In comparison, only 13% and 19% of students who received A’s and B’s respectively were found to have abused prescription medication. 

Opioids are known to damage to the brain’s white matter, which reduces a student’s ability to decide and behave accordingly in stressful situations.

OTC Drugs

Over-the-counter medications are also being abused by students, particularly teenagers. Cough and cold medicines are popular because they contain dextromethorphan which causes a euphoric state, better known as a “high”. However, dextromethorphan causes memory loss and problems with focus which affect students’ academic performance.

Other Illicit Drugs

Some students abuse illicit drugs such as heroin, amphetamines, and cocaine. The main problem with illicit drugs is that they tend to be addictive. Drug addiction can significantly affect a student’s academic performance since it distracts them and keeps them from focusing on school. This is especially true if they experience withdrawal symptoms in-between use. 

Substance or drug abuse is a widespread phenomenon that begins as early as the 8th grade. Though numbers are declining for high school students, the incidence continues to worsen as students move up to college. Each drug will have different effects on a person’s body, but it can be agreed that no matter the substance, abuse will create problems in school. That is why it is very important for students and their peers to be fully aware what are the effects of drug abuse on school performance.

Most colleges and universities have a counselling service.  If you find yourself have any of the above problems, talk to them.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Leslie Gilmour, Monday, 4 Sep 2017, 15:15)
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Why Studying is a Great Way to Spend Your Retirement

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People have various reasons why they consider taking early retirement. However, very few people take the time to plan on how they spend their retirement days. Long gone are the days when retired folks would retreatment to their farms and experience the therapeutic nature of the country life. It was undeniable that all retired persons would get back to their farms and spend their days farming and look after grandchildren.

You need to plan on how to spend your time to avoid stress complications and dying early. You need to plan for ways of ensuring your brain remains active. What better way than considering to further your studies.  Studies have proven a credible way of not only spending your retirement money wisely but also your time. Hence, you need to plan on what you study for the first ten years after retirement to ensure your brain remains occupied and your money goes into proper use.

1.    Taking time to study is the best way of investing in yourself. You are never too old to either sharpen your skills further or add more knowledge to your life. Studies have a way of calming your nerves and ensuring your time is properly utilized and none of your time goes to waste. Studies have a special way of blending your busy corporate life with the life of a retiree by making sure you are not too idle for wild activities like alcohol drinking. Studies help you invest in yourself wisely; you can become a professor and offer valuable impact to the younger generation by teaching at institutions of higher learning. Besides, studies open you to lots of possibilities other than confining you to your house and reading magazines.

2.    You should take the time to study seriously after retirement seriously as it helps you keep your moods and general health in check. Retirees tend to have lots of free time at their disposal, and this can expose them to paying attention to small issues. Such petty matters have a way of preoccupying your mind and can lead to stress. However, studies take a lot of your time, and you end up lacking time to check on everything. The result is that your moods remain relatively stable avoiding lifestyle disease like high blood pressure. Studies conducted globally indicate retirees who take the time to study live longer than those who just idle around. Studies help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and helps you keep fit as you go out frequently hence you have not the time to add weight and lazy around.

3.    Studies help retired people avoid some social challenges associated with idle retired people. For instance, you will find retired individuals in some conflicts that do not make sense. Such conflicts can be easily avoided if a retiree takes the time to study. Conflicts are mainly domestic as the retirees want to exercise authority over their family members as they are used in their former places of work. Studies can help the retiree have a blind eye for such people since their time is occupied by books. A retiree can positively impact the society with their added knowledge as people will occasionally consult them as they are perceived beacons of wisdom. Consequently, studies are likely to improve on their social ranking.

4.    The structure and availability of pension funds influence people on when they retire and what to do with their time and money. If you live in a country where retired people are highly regarded, you may still consider studying a viable option as you are motivated to give back to the society further. However, in most countries all over the globe, retired people are considered as second class citizens, and they have to meet all their bills. No better way a retiree can regain their dignity than taking time and limited resources to study as you are assured of getting juicy returns. Universities and research institutions all over the world lack adequate professors. If a retiree advanced their education and attained the status of a senior professor, you are more likely to be rehired as a consultant. Such consultants are highly paid, and you are likely to get a return on investment for your finances soon.

5.    Retired couples who make the joint decision to study are likely to enjoy their joint retirement as opposed to when one person makes the decision to study and the other person does not. Besides, taking time study as a couple is a bold step that paves the way for the children to appreciate the value of education. Retired couples who choose to study are adored by the society as they hardly have enough time for conflicts. One sure recipe for conflicts is having lots of free time at your disposal. Hence, retired couples who choose to study are likely to appreciate each other more, as opposed to having a lot of time for finding fault in each other.

6.    Labor force anticipation and raising your kids can motivate you to study while you are retired.  Not all retired persons are done raising their children. As such, they can choose to study further to ensure they remain relevant in the current labor market. Such a decision secures the stability of their families as their cash flows remain steady. Besides, the retired persons who choose to enhance their study further are likely to cause less conflict with their growing children. Studies help them relate positively with their children as their mind is still active. 

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Leslie Gilmour

What Type of Accountancy Suits Your Personality

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Tuesday, 5 Jun 2018, 13:48

To someone from the outside, accounting is simply accounting. On average, not that many people require the services of forensic accountants or auditors over the course of their lives. To people in industry and to students who are looking to become accountants, the different kinds of accounting have different kinds of allure. To take this a step further, the different kinds of accounting call for different kinds of personalities.

This is my topic for this post – finding the type of accountancy that best suits various personalities and deciding on which sub-specialization to pursue – but bear in mind there are many areas of specialisation – PAYE, Company Formation, Practice, International – below is just a small sample.

accounting personality types


According to the UK laws, a business is required to have an annual audit conducted by an independent, external organization. Audits are conducted in general by accountants (not necessarily accountants) who go through a company's books and ensure that the company is well-run. Audits can also be required by potential partners or buyers of the business, while some companies also like to do their own internal audits from time to time.

Auditing is best done by someone who is ready to jump from company to company, from job to job and who is quick to find their way around any company in a matter of seconds. Auditors also have to be inquisitive and have a penchant for noticing the slightest discrepancies which may hide major issues. This type of accounting also requires great communication skills and a certain level of confidence, as auditor's words can sometimes decide fates of entire companies.

Tax Accounting

Tax accounting, as its name would suggest, is all about taxes. In essence, tax accountants track all of the transactions that a company has engaged in and that might have an effect on how much the company owes in tax. In addition to this, tax accountants are always on a lookout for ways in which they can reduce the amount of taxes the company has to pay.

It should be pointed out that some tax accountants are also hired by individual clients, as opposed to corporate ones. These are invariably very wealthy individuals who have plenty to pay (and look for ways to reduce the amount).

Tax accountants have to be able to handle immense amounts of information, make sense of it all and find ways in which this information can be used in order to reduce the amount of taxes their clients will have to pay. Creativity is another personality trait that works out well for tax accountants as their job sometimes entails making some seriously complex and difficult maneuvers in order to save their client's money.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting is what comes to mind to laypeople when they think about accountancy – staying on top of financial transactions that occur as a part of a company's everyday functioning. Financial accountants analyse a company's financial position, share value and more, all for the benefit of regulators and shareholders.

A financial accountant is someone who is meticulous and who is ready to work in a team. In large companies, these are often huge teams where interpersonal skills and proclivities can also play a big role. Another great trait that will serve a financial accountant well is adaptability since most companies have their own processes and software and it can often be difficult to find one's way in all of it.

Perfectionists will also find financial accounting quite attractive as there is a lot to get in order and work on until every single digit falls into place.

Management accounting

Management accounting is actually quite similar to financial accounting – it revolves around establishing, analysing and reporting where a company stands financially. The difference is who receives the report and the accountant's input. This time, the insights are provided internally, mostly to managers and other members of the C-suite.

According to the information provided by management accountants, the managerial staff then makes decisions that guide a company in the future. Moreover, top management accountants often join the managerial staff, becoming important figures in their companies.

Management accounting is perfect for people who are highly analytical and who are naturally talented in noticing trends and patterns that can be acted on in the real world. Minds that are not foreign to strategic thinking also tend to thrive in this type of accounting.

Of course, a certain amount of ambition is also a welcome trait in a management accountant, especially one who wishes to move up the ladder, so to say. This kind of impact also requires someone who is not too afraid to voice their opinion and stand behind it, even when it is particularly risky.

Forensic accounting

Forensic accounting probably sounds the most alluring of all the types of accounting and many accountants (especially those who do the forensic kind) will tell you that this is just the case. Forensic accounting entails detective work, solving crimes that might have been committed by people and organizations.

While much of forensic accounting actually has to do with embezzlements, fraud, and similar crimes, some of it is less cinematic, like when forensic accountants go through decades of a marriage to decide who made what when and who is entitled to what.

As you might expect, accountants that excel in this kind of accounting are those with an inquisitive mind and a tenacity to pursue a case until it is resolved without a shadow of a doubt. Advanced analytical and logical minds also tend to have great careers as forensic accountants.

Instead of a Closing Word

It should be pointed out that these are mostly some ideas and that these are in no way any indication as to how someone will perform in a certain sub-specialization of accountancy. For example, someone who is not particularly ambitious can still make a spectacular management accountant. Similarly, just because you have an analytical mind, it does not mean you will make a flawless forensic accountant.

Personality traits can make it easier for some people, but in the end, it will mostly come down to studying hard, working hard and never settling for the knowledge you already possess.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Simon Reed, Tuesday, 20 Jun 2017, 21:16)
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Leslie Gilmour

Are CCTV Cameras Making Us Feel Any Safer?

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In this day and age it seems like you can’t go anywhere without being watched.  Whether it is through private video surveillance or government run CCTV cameras; someone is always seemingly watching your ever move.  While many of these security devices are meant to help keep you safe, it does raise a great deal of new questions.  One of the biggest things people are wondering is whether or not the extra added security actually makes them feel any safer.  On top of that, it is a concern that this unknown safety is not worth the violation of personal privacy. 

Why Do We Have CCTV Cameras?

Government surveillance in the UK has been around for decades.  It first dates back to the after WWII when tensions were high and so was the need for added security.  Ever since the birth of the digital age, these surveillance techniques only grew and became more invasive.  These days you can’t turn a corner without seeing a CCTV camera high above your head watching your ever step.  By 2011 there was an estimation that there were over 1.8 million forms of public surveillance which includes CCTV cameras located throughout the UK alone.  Since then, that number has only grown which raises the question; why the need?

CCTV cameras are meant to record all activities while also are meant to be used a police and government tool to screen for suspicious behavior.  Along with the screening process, police teams also use the CCTV feed to identify crime and criminals and often times will release that information to public in order to get a positive identification or more information on a crime.  While helping to prevent crime and bigger national problems is a big deal, it doesn’t always help to bring any relief to the citizens.

Public View on CCTV Cameras

When it comes to CCTV cameras and public opinion, the feelings are mixed.  Some people appreciate that this type of video surveillance will help to solves crime and that gives them a certain sense of security when it comes to their safety.  Other people feel that this is just another excuse for government to get involved in their personal day to day lives.  The one thing that most people can agree on is that whichever sides people stand on, they feel extremely strong about their personal views.

The citizens who tend to stand against public surveillance are valid in these feelings.  How far is too far?  It isn’t only CCTV cameras that are used these days which gives weight to the fears of the public.  Many CCTV cameras have been fitted with microphone devices now which mean that not only are people monitoring your movements, but your conversations as well.  It is also known that government can now also use other means of monitoring such as recording cell phone conversations and emails, so there really seems like there is no fine line left when it comes to safety and privacy.

Do CCTV Cameras Prevent Crime?

When it comes to crime prevention, it is unclear about whether or not CCTV cameras do the job correctly.  It seems that they work well in the aftermath of a crime when they need to make an ID or gather information, but actual crime prevention is a whole different study itself.  This is because not all CCTV cameras are live feeds meaning that in order to do surveillance, the person monitoring would have to know a specific date and time stamp in order to find the incident, but what about the live feed?  The live feed cameras can work to spot suspicious behavior which can help to prevent a crime from taking place but it takes a trained eye to do so. 

It also should be said that the appearance of CCTV cameras has not worked to deter criminals the way police would have hoped.   If anything, CCTV cameras have made criminals smarter and help them learn how to be cleverer in order to evade surveillance.  This is one of the reasons why many people don’t actually feel like CCTV cameras make them feel any safer.  There is still plenty of speculation and debate on this matter even though police and government claim that CCTV cameras have led to more than 4000 arrests in four years alone, yet is unclear about how many of those arrests led to convictions and how many were a direct result of public surveillance.

One of the biggest concerns that private citizens have when it comes to CCTV monitoring is when does it stop being about crime and become about control?  There have been reports of CCTV cameras now being able to cite you for smaller crimes like jay walking and littering.  While you should try to never break the law, is it an abuse of power for the government to use monitoring for seemingly trivial acts?  That is a question that one must ask them before deciding if CCTV cameras are put in place for the best interest of the community.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately we have come to terms with whether or not we feel comfortable being monitored continuously.  Do we feel safer or do we want to grasp tightly to whatever privacy we may have left.  We also need to wonder what direction all of this monitoring is taking us in.  Will we ever be able to live as private citizens and have our business be just ours?  More importantly, is the government feeding off of public fear as an excuse to keep tabs on our every move?  One thing is for sure, the conversation of whether or not CCTV cameras make us feel any safer is a conversation that doesn’t seem to be ending soon.  With so many questions left unanswered there is so much uncertainty about the future of public surveillance. 

At the end of the day is comes to public and personal opinion.  If CCTV cameras make you feel safer knowing that there is always a watchful eye in the sky, then keep on living your life.  If you worry that government involvement is becoming too overwhelming, keep asking the tough questions while continuing to exercise reasonable caution.  You never know who is watching.  Take care.

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Leslie Gilmour

How to Set Yourself Up For a Successful Interview

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Edited by Leslie Gilmour, Monday, 25 Jun 2018, 09:34

Every student knows that sudden feeling of dread that comes after they leave their protective university bubble.  For many graduating students, this is where the real world begins.  One of your first tasks as a recent graduate is to hit the job market with a string of sent resumes, endless phone calls and just a little touch of groveling.  

Eventually, the time will come when an employer will be impressed by your tenacity and will set up an interview.  This is where the real work begins.  To ensure that you are putting your best foot forward, follow these simple tips to help you come one step closer to a career.

Be Prepared

Before you step foot into whatever work environment you are hoping to join, prepare yourself.  While it is a good motivator to always aim high, be realistic about the job you are applying for and make sure it matches your skills.  It is also important that you have some university training in the job you want, this is especially important if you majored in general studies.  For example; if you are looking for a job in the cosmetology field, one great way to prepare yourself is to take a short makeup course or workshop so that your potential employer will note that are willing to further your education, (be aware that some tattoos are not workplace friendly and you might need to cover them up)..

Another great way to be prepared for an upcoming job interview is to do your research.  Study up on the company you are hoping will hire you so that you know what you are in for.  This is also a great way to impress potential employers.  The more knowledgeable you are in an interview will show them that you have great instincts and that you are truly interested in their business.

The Day Before

The day prior to your job interview is the day when you should lay all of your plans out.  It is better to have everything ready to go the day before so you are not rushing before your interview.  This also gives you time to relax and get your head in the game.  Carefully choose and lay out the clothes that you are going to wear.  Always dress better than you think you should, even if you are applying to a more casual work environment.  This will show your interviewer that you are professional and that you are taking the job seriously.  Don’t over dress as this may come off as too eager which is something you should avoid.  Finding the perfect balance between motivated and humble is critical.

Have your resume printed on cardstock or high-quality paper.  Even if you have already sent your resume in prior to the interview, it is a good rule of thumb to bring an extra with you.  You never know if they will ask you for your resume again.  To go the extra mile, you can even have some personal business cards on hand that list your contact information.  These little touches will help to ensure that potential employers will remember you.  The job market is a competitive field, so if there is an opportunity for you to set yourself apart from the pack, seize it. 

Interview Day

Wake up early.  Even if your interview is later in the day, start your day off right.  Mornings are the perfect time to set a precedent for the rest of your day.  It is important to take the time relax so that your head is in the right place.  Interviews are stressful and you will naturally get nervous, so find a way to expel that nervous energy and try to channel it into something positive.  This way you can walk into your interview confident and strong.  When you are confident in what you are saying, your interviewer will get pick up on it and it will set your interview off on the right foot.

Always get to the job interview early.  Try to plan on being there 10-15 minutes earlier than scheduled.  This shows that you are punctual and are taking the interview seriously.  Many times a great interview will be clouded by a tardy appearance.  If you know that your interview is during a time where traffic is high, prepare for this and adjust accordingly.  Try to avoid get there too early.  There is such a thing as being overeager and this can often read as desperate which is never a good look.

Be clear in the things that you say.  To make sure that your point is coming across, truly listen to the questions you are being asked.  Take a mental second to gather your thoughts before speaking.  This will show that you have great communication and listening skills which are two major components to being successful in your overall career.  The best way to show interest through words is to ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer specific questions about the company as well as the job itself.  This will show them that you have a great interest in the job at hand.  Make eye contact.  Indirect eye contact is one way to show people that you are not confident or do not believe the words you are saying and this is the last thing you would want a potential employee to think of you. 

Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  While humor is often a defense mechanism; it is also a great way to showcase some personality.  Make sure that the humor stays on the appropriate side of the scale; the last thing you would want is for them to think that you will be an HR nightmare.  When leaving your job interview you should have just as strong of an exit as an initiation.  Shake their hand firmly and thank them for their time.  This is their last impression of you, so make it a good one.

Follow Up

Some people are wary about whether or not to follow up after a job interview.  As long as you are not hounding your interviewer, it is perfectly okay to follow up.  The best way to do this is to wait a day or two and send them an email thanking them for their time and stating how you look forward to hearing from them in the future.  Even if you don’t end up getting the job, they will remember you for reaching out politely to them.  This will help to keep you in their good graces in case another job opens up in that company.  The last thing you would want to do is burn any professional bridges before you ever even officially enter the job world.

Don’t Give Up

It isn’t always the case that you will land your first job right out of the gate.  While if it does happen, take the time to celebrate, but you should also never let a rejection slow you down.  Take each job interview as a lesson to be learned and apply that education to the next interview.  Over time you will find that each time you step foot in an interview room you are more confident and prepared than the last time.  As long as you stay motivated and vigilant, the only thing that is stopping you from landing the perfect job is you.  Good luck. 

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Leslie Gilmour

How to Balance Part Time Study, Life, and Work

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Life is all about juggling.  There is a constant battle between all of the things in our lives that seem to be in competition with each other for the spotlight.  Sometimes, there are just too many balls in the air and juggling may seem impossible.  Some people thrive when faced with the challenge of having to do too many things at once.  They face their over-packed schedules head on with great result.  If you’re like the rest of the world who find themselves overwhelmed by trying to balance study, life, and work, you’re in luck.  There are some great tips and techniques that will help you stay your path and best of all, do it successfully.

Make a plan

The first step to a maintaining a well-balanced life is to make a plan.  The best way to stick to the plan is to make the plan reasonable.  Overloading yourself with too many tasks in too short an amount of time is the fastest way to failure.  One tip for making the best plan is to put it in writing.  Whether you use a computer organizer or a daily journal, writing down your plans for the day is the best way to hold yourself accountable. 

Make a list of all of the tasks and events you have coming up.  To go the extra mile, color code these events and separated them by urgency.  For example; big exams and deadlines should take precedence over an upcoming party.  Most people are very visual, so being able to actually see all of the things they need to do written out in front of them helps them to stay focused.  Over time you will find that this repetition will help you to not only create a habit but also to change the way you plan things in the future.

Stay organized

Once you have your planner in place, the next step to a seemingly balanced life is to organize it.  Many times a chaotic life is a direct result to the disorganization in your life that may already exist.  While there is beauty in chaos, it’s not the ideal way to juggle your life.  The best place to start organizing is in the area that you do most of your work.  Whether it is your home office, a study desk or even your favorite spot on your couch, organisation is the key to a stress-free life.

When starting the quest for organization, it is perfectly fine to use tools at your disposal to help you along the way.  You are only human after all.  Did you know that one of the best tools available to you is already in the palm of your hand?  Cell phones have come a long away from clunky devices that do little more than make a phone call.  You can not only organize your whole life on your phone but you can customize the way you do things as well.  Whether you are setting reminders for yourself to help you stay on task or are keeping track of hours worked, there is no other technology that is so easily accessible and that also is already such a large part of your life.  People are constantly on their cell phones anyhow.  So why not use it to your advantage?

Find time to play

While the important things like work and study will naturally be filling up your dancing card faster than you want, once and a while it is okay to find time to play.  Not only is it healthy, it is also a whole lot more fun than working.  Some people confuse finding the perfect balance in their lives with just staying on top of work and study, but life is equally, if not more important.  Taking care of your mental health should never be overlooked.  Making room for activities that keep you happy is the key to making everything in your life rotate the way it should.

Recently, I took a Saturday afternoon off study to help the kids put up new wall stickers.  We had bought these about a month before and they had been sitting waiting on me to find space in my schedule.  Just taking the time out and doing it left me feeling much better – and left the kids much happier.

Having a life isn’t always a distraction.  Certain activities can actually help your brain to focus while also keeping your motivated.  Hitting the gym with friends or any group activity that keeps your body moving will not only help to give you enough endurance to tackle a week’s worth of daunting tasks, but will also release endorphins so that you can blow through your work with a smile on your face.  So while planning out your week, skip the pencil, and pen in a social life.

Hold yourself accountable and forgive yourself

The last step to finding the perfect harmony in your life is to stick to the plans you make.  When it comes to keeping your life in order, you are the boss.  So hold yourself accountable.  If you plan out your week, try your hardest to stick to it.  There are few feelings in the world as good as setting your mind to complete a perfect week and then actually doing.  The satisfaction you feel from succeeding will be even greater when you know that you were responsible for it.  If you have followed the first few steps to a perfectly balanced life, being able to keep your life in check is no longer impossible.

On the other side of things, is failure.  Failure is okay.  Along with accountable is forgiveness.  Being too hard on yourself for letting one of the balls in your life drop to the floor will not always motivate you to pick that ball up and try again.  Give yourself some credit for everything you have already managed to accomplish and keep pushing forward.  When you accept that balancing your life doesn’t always work out perfectly, you are more likely to try harder the next time around.

Final Thoughts

Finding out how to balance study, work and life is a whole lot easier said than it is done.  By making a plan and following through, half the battle is already over with.  Like everything in life, finding that harmony will be full of trials and errors but as long as you remember to keep moving forward you will find that over time, the never ending juggling act will almost be second nature to you.  Good luck.

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Leslie Gilmour

Why Spend an Erasmus Semester or Year Abroad

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There are so many benefits to spending a semester or year abroad. Not only will you get some amazing shots for your Instagram, but you’ll meet new people, eat new foods, and gain countless experiences that wouldn’t be possible if you were still in your home country. 

People always say “do it while you’re young” and this is a perfect example. If you don’t spend time abroad now, you will likely never get the chance. In a few years’ time, you’ll be graduated from uni, have a solid career, and be on your way to starting a family. 

Sure, you may have a part-time job now, or a significant other; but these aren’t good enough reasons to skip out on doing an Erasmus semester abroad. I spent one year at Vienna University while at university, this was before I went on to do more study with the OU. 

I picked Vienna simply because I could study in English, but for me, it was a great choice.  The summer before starting I walked the Camino de Santiago and met my now current other half who is from Prague.  Commuting between Vienna and Prague by train was easy. At the end of the year, I hired a courier service to move all my things back to Ireland, where I was based at the time.

Find Yourself

Going abroad gives you the opportunity to actually find yourself. Think about it; you won’t know anyone, and no one has any expectations of you. You can be whoever you want to be. If you have always been known as “Shy little Kate, from Bristol”, you can make an extra effort to be outgoing, and try new things. Even if you have never been much of a writer, now is a perfect opportunity to keep track of your thoughts.  Hold on to your memories by keeping a journal to reflect on your time, and the changes that occur while you’re away. Spending an Erasmus semester is a great alternative if you didn’t get to experience a gap year. 

Make Connections

Spending an Erasmus semester abroad can have many benefits; socially and professionally. You can make many work connections overseas that you would have never met if you didn’t take the leap. It isn’t rare to find that the company you worked for overseas to offer you a job when you graduate. You will also meet so many different people, from different walks of life, who knows what doors might open!

Better Yourself

Not only will you find yourself on your Erasmus semester abroad, you will also better yourself. There are ridiculous amounts of ways to spend your time overseas, and almost all the ways include a way to make yourself better, whether that be in a physical way, mental way, or to set you up for the future. 

You will pick up on new cultures and languages, not only in the new place that you’re living, but also anywhere else you’re living. You will be so close to other countries, it would be a shame not to save some money before hand to visit the neighbouring countries and see what they have to offer. You may find that you enjoy a new sport that is popular in your country, which will keep you fit and you’ll have a hobby for life. How great will it to say, “Oh yes, I picked up cycling in Denmark, there is just no other way to get around.” 

It Can Open Opportunities

By jumping into the deep end and moving to another country, you will have many opportunities open. For example, on your resume, employers will be very impressed by your ability to pick up and move to a country where you likely don’t know the language, or anyone living there. This will show prospective employers your courage, resistance and adaptability. Also, any odd jobs you pick up to make ends meet show your diversity of skills on a resume. 

Ask any HR executive, a popular question in interviews for any position will go something along these lines... “Tell us about a difficult situation you overcame, and how you managed to overcome it.” Instead of having no idea what to say, you will now have countless stories to show your fast-thinking and ability to overcome hardships. Maybe you’ll tell them the time you got sick in Spain, and the only doctor on call didn’t speak English, so you had to explain using your “Spanglish”. Or how you once ended up on the wrong train in France and ended up 100 kilometres from where you were meant to be with no cell phone! Living abroad will provide plenty of hardships, or uncomfortable situations, but your reaction to them is everything. 

Just remember, no matter how bad it is right now, it will probably be a funny story you’re telling your host family over dinner in a week or two. Not only are there professional opportunities, think about how many people you will meet! You’ll make tons of new friends, and maybe even a significant other. The best part is, you’ll be meeting people from all over the world, which provides the perfect opportunity to visit an exotic place later on- you have to visit your friends right?

Financial Support

This one may surprise you, but now is the perfect time to spend a semester abroad, because every Erasmus student receives a grant. How much will depend on your home country and where you’re planning to go, but every little bit helps. 

While it won’t cover your entire semester, it is certainly more than if you decide to plan a trip when you’re out of school. If you do an Erasmus work placement, you will receive the grant money AND a salary. Not only this, but it is so easy to make extra money in your spare time. Teaching English, some teacher training helps, interpreting or freelance translating is all ways to earn extra income as well. Lastly, depending on where you’re from, you may get a great exchange rate, or find that the cost of living is lower than in your home country.

So what are you waiting for?

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Nicole Bateman, Sunday, 27 Sep 2020, 12:37)
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