A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

I'm Listening To...


After having so many lovely comments about my last 'I'm Listening To' post, I thought I would try and make it a weekly/fortnightly thing!
So here is what I have been listening to in the past week, check them out!



The Hummingbirds - Talking of Tomorrow
@TheHummingbirds
I would also incredibly recommend having a good listen to their full album which they released last week, it's brilliant!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pieces-of-you/id1079839698

Victories at Sea - Up
@victoriesatsea
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTXkr5kjOcA

Pale Honey - Over your Head
@palehoneyband
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMLmIVThXIQ

Moats - Toothache
@moatsmustic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXqkVZzPCIo

Luka Sol ft Natalie M - Unknown
@iamlukasol
https://soundcloud.com/iamlukasol/unknown-ft-natalie-m

Saltwater Sun - Making Eyes
@saltwater_sun
https://soundcloud.com/saltwater-sun/making-eyes

PRXZM - Haze
@PRXZMusic
https://soundcloud.com/prxzm/haze

Fickle Friends - Say No More
@ficklefriendsuk

Fronteers - Idol
@Fronteersband
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfnkVN6GoPQ

Let me know what you think about this week's impressive selection!
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Monday, 28 March 2016

Securing a job: A graduate's top tips!


A few months ago, I was asked by a friend who is coming to the end of their time at university: "How did you manage to get a job after university?"

Thinking of last summer now makes me feel very, very old! I had just left university and was desperate for a graduate role and I really did not want to settle for a standard job. Although a lot of people find taking a few 'months off' essentially in their local pub refreshing, I wanted to be focused and find myself a role which I needed my degree for. After all, I still had everything I had learnt in my degree fresh in my mind! 

I feel like I have learnt a lot about life in general since last summer and in particular working life. Although I'm still only young, I have learnt some skills over the past year which actually work when applying for jobs and if you're coming up to graduating or looking for a job change, you might like to have a read of my tips...

1) Have a think about the type of job you really, really want.

What is it that you really want to do and how are you going to get there? When I first started applying for graduate roles last summer, I wrote down my dream job. I then got thinking about all that jobs that I could do that could lead me to this 'dream job'. Then, I applied for these jobs which would eventually lead me to my dream job. It's all about experience when applying for jobs, so I wrote down what experience I had done and what skills I had gained from them and if I enjoyed any experience enough to consider doing it as a job. By doing this, it helped me massively as I could then focus on particular career options instead of going crazy on Indeed and applying for everything within a 500000 mile radius. If you're unsure of how to get to your dream role, think about someone who does that job and simply get in touch ask them what it took for them to get there.

2) Understand your skills and think about the money you should be earning.

When I was beginning to apply for jobs last year, the income always completely surprised me. It is definitely worth doing some research into how much graduate roles earn in the industry you wish to work in, so you are aware of how much junior roles tend to earn in comparison to directors of the company, and all the roles in between! Think about all the skills and experience you already have and what type of degree you have or hope to get (1st class, 2.1, 2.2 etc) and consider what type of money you want from the job. It is probably best to not be too fussy in your first role and always remember that there may well be opportunities to work your way up and make more money in no time. You also need to remember that the money isn't everything, if you're doing something you WANT to do then believe me, the money will be much better to earn than being in a job you dislike but being on a good wage. After all, this isn't a hobby and this is something you will be doing every day, so focus on the job itself more than the money. However, you need to remember how much money you need to live on though and your circumstances; Will you be commuting? Will you be paying rent and bills? Just remember these things when applying for roles.

3) Get your CV sorted and write a different cover letter for every job.

This is one of the most important things to do when applying for a job. Your CV and cover letter is what an employer will first see of you and the first impression you give, so make sure it's something that they will remember. A CV can be designed depending on the industry you want to work in. If you're wanting a job in law or something similar, a professional CV is obviously needed. But if you're a creative type, like myself, and applying for a role which you will need to be creative for, it's cool to make your CV a bit more attractive. I have two CV's; one colourful page with relevant jobs and experience, skills, references and personal information like address and phone number on. My other CV is still colourful but is 2 pages, kind of an extended version, and goes into more detail about my responsibilities at previous roles. Depending on the job application in question, I will send either one of these. Some company's just want something they can scan over and others want to know loads about you, so it's worthwhile having two different ones. I'd also recommend writing cover letters for a specific role rather than have a cover letter for all jobs. Although it's a bit more time consuming, it's worth it as you can focus on your skills for that particular job and definitely makes you look like you are more committed to that role and not just being lazy and applying for anything. On my CV, I also include links to my blog, Mixcloud and Twitter. After all, my blog and Mixcloud show some of my skills and seeing as I will tend to apply for roles which will have a social media aspect, its worthwhile adding my Twitter to the page as it then shows that I understand social media.

4) The importance of social media.

Employers are going to look at your social media, that's the way it works nowadays! So it really is so, so important that you are aware of how your social media portrays yourself. If you would rather things be kept personal, then simply make your social media accounts private. But make sure you check everything on your social media accounts and get rid of anything that could be seen as fairly inappropriate. After all, these employers will be thinking about the way that you will represent them if you were to hire them, so don't put yourself in a situation where it's easy for them to put a big NO next to your name!

5) Be interview ready.

If you secure yourself an interview, make sure you have an interview outfit and do plenty of research on the company and the role itself. By doing your research, you will come across much more organised and more serious about the role as you have taken the time to understand the company. Make notes and read them over as much as you can before you go to the interview on the company, the role and the specific skills you have to bring to the role. Other interview tips I would give is to be super smiley and friendly, give a firm handshake and show some interest in the office or location. I would also suggest to consider your tone; try not to use too much slang or lazy words. Also, make sure you sell yourself well! Be positive about yourself and be confident in your abilities and skills and what you can bring to the job. You may be asked to take part in a telephone or skype interview too, so make sure you're also prepared for those situations too; telephone interviews in a way are fantastic because you can have your page of notes in front of you!

6) Stay positive and keep on applying! 

In total, I have had 20 graduate role interviews in the past year, so I'm hardly a pro in securing jobs myself, but it's all about persistence and keeping positive. It's hard work and getting rejected from jobs can be really tough as it damages your confidence. But you really just have to keep applying for roles you want and if something is meant to be, it will be. It is also worthwhile registering to a few agencies too, as they will be looking for jobs for you as well as yourself, so it's a real team effort and gives you more of a chance of securing something sooner. Also remember that it is completely OK to get yourself a little job whilst applying for jobs which will lead to your dream career, as long as you stay focused on what you want and how you're going to get there. I stayed positive and I start my new role next week, so it definitely works.

7) Start applying as soon as possible.

It is definitely worth applying for jobs as soon as possible. I began to apply for roles last April, so a month before I finished university. Although this tactic didn't work for me and I didn't secure my previous role until the August, I would still recommend it. After all, when it gets to summer time, thousands of graduates will all be applying for the same roles, so get in there a few weeks before everyone else!

What advice would you give? If you have any other questions, get in touch and I'll help where I can!
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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Week in Review


Receiving my first Good Luck card | Just a reminder to SMILE! | Chilling with the beagle, Bleu | Selfie before date night in Birmingham | Thinking of ideas for a potential novel | Enjoying The Hummingbirds new album.

So this week has been an odd one; I found out last week that I have scored myself a new job (blog post coming up on this next week) and that I start on the 4th April. Seeing as I left my previous role in Liverpool last month, I haven't had to give notice to anyone and right now, it really is a case of  just waiting to start! I have done some temporary work over the last few weeks, as well as helping my sister create some content for her website, but I am ITCHING to get started at my new job now! Although it is nice to have a few days off here and there, a few weeks is just a bit too long and I'm beginning to run out of things to do! Just one more week and I will be back to a career girl and very much back to normal.

Apart from sorting out paperwork for my new job, this week has been fairly relaxing after a hectic weekend of looking after/being funny Aunty Beth for my niece Felicity and drinks in Birmingham. My grandparents arrived back home from their holiday so I have spent a huge amount of time with them; with them living next door, it's like losing a limb when you don't see their car on the drive for longer than a few hours, let alone a week! I caught up with friends in Liverpool through various phone calls and facetime's, tucked into a brand new book (does anyone else appreciate the satisfaction in cracking the spine in a book?!) and started thinking about my blog and what posts I can do in the future.

On Thursday, Me and Gemma got thinking about city breaks we want to do over the next couple of years with our other friends after our time in Amsterdam was such a success. So right now, we're fairly sorted until Winter 2018! Good Friday saw me head to my sister's to have a catch-up and play with my niece (I will never, ever turn down playing with a Disney princess castle.) Afterwards, me and my friends caught up over a curry and a pint at our favourite curry house and then a couple of drinks at the good old Station Inn. Over our catch-up, we planned a potential log cabin stay over New Year and a day at Worcester Races in June, seeing as we're all a bit too broke to head to Ascot anytime soon.

In true bank holiday style, I've been watching a few Carry On films with my dad today (I'm sure that is a bank holiday rule by the way) and having a good spring clean of my bedroom. I've also managed to get my head around Bloglovin! Tomorrow, we're having the family round for a big dinner and most likely far too much prosecco. We're going to enjoy turkey and pigs in blankets as we didn't get to meet up over Christmas, so apart from the presents, it's basically Christmas take 2. I will also be enjoying an Easter egg (or two) throughout the day!

Follow me on Bloglovin'


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Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Stories Of My Life....So Far




I was devastated when I heard the news the other week that one of my favourite author's, Louise Rennison, had sadly passed away. I spent my early teen's completely obsessed with the Georgia Nicholson based books which were written amazingly well to display the REAL teenage girls issues which we all face at some point. Not only did I find them all hysterically funny, they helped me realise that I wasn't actually a weirdo, I was just being a normal teenage girl! At school when you're 12, it's easy to think that you're a complete nutter compared to the 'popular girls', but these books made me realise that all the girls around me were fighting in the same battle. 

After hearing about Louise Rennison, it got me thinking about all the books I've read over the years and the ones which have had some sort of affect on me; the ones which I will always treasure, the ones that had an impact on my writing style and the ones that made me look at life in a different way. Being the very nosey person I am, I love hearing about books which people have enjoyed, so I thought I would share with you my favourite ones...


These two books are the ones that have had the biggest affect on my writing style. I read 'Rubbish Boyfriends' written by Jessie Jones when I was 16 and just fell in love with it. In a way, it is written in the same humour as the Georgia Nicholson series, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It is a similar story with 'Confessions of a Tinderella' written by the brilliant Rosy Edwards; just wow! Not only was this genuinely hilarious and very, very relatable, it was also really gripping and I struggled to put the book down. I have always enjoyed writing about relationships and I love bringing a sense of humour to the situation when I tell my experiences, a lot like these books. When I think about the books which have had the biggest impact on the way I write, it is definitely these and I would thoroughly recommend them!


There have been a range of memoir's I have enjoyed over the years from some of my favourite women in the entertainment industry, but these are the ones which not only I enjoyed the most, but the ones that made me look at life just a little differently. Sex and the City's Samantha Jones will always be one of my hero's, but 'Being a Girl' written by the actress Kim Cattrall, is simply amazing. I read the book when I was 13 and the advice given in the book has stayed with me since. Although it is written to a teen audience, it is easy to apply the tips given to a woman in any stage of life. Being a Girl was the perfect thing to read when I was an early teen desperate to please friends and school friends and being so very confused about boys! The other books are ones that I have enjoyed in recent years, like 'How to be Lovely' written by Melissa Hellstern. As a huge admirer of Audrey Hepburn, the little tales of the woman herself and how you can apply them to your own life, make it such a lovely little read. Mindy Kaling is one of my favourite women of all time and her book 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)' is fantastic! Although it is essentially an autobiography, it is genuinely interesting and gives a huge amount of advice on making it in the entertainment industry. 'Not That Kind Of Girl' by Lena Dunham has come under a huge amount of controversy for certain things, but the book as a whole is a really interesting read and again, gives advice on life, love and friendships which therefore made me think about the way that I approach mine.


I couldn't write about my favourite books and not mention possibly my favourite author of all time, Roald Dahl! There are probably only a small handful of his books and tales that I didn't read when I was younger, but I think the most wonderful thing about his books are that they are really not just for children, I still find myself reading them even now and I can't wait to pass them onto my niece and one day my own children. 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', 'Matilda' and 'The BFG' are my personal favourites and will treasure for the rest of my days, but I would never pass up the opportunity for another read of 'James and the Giant Peach', 'Fantastic Mr Fox' and of course, 'The Twits’. 


Of course, not every book I have ever read has had some kind of effect on me, but certain story lines and characters will stay with me forever and many books I can easily read again and again, like F. Scott Fitzgerald's heart-breaking romance novel 'The Great Gatsby' and the mind-blowing masterpiece '1984' by George Orwell. I first read Anne Frank's diary when I was 8 or 9, but you can never outgrow a diary which still shocks and breaks my heart every time I read it. In terms of motivational books, which are surprisingly worthwhile (I promise!), I would definitely recommend Jordan Ellenberg's 'How Not To Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths Of Everyday Life' and of course, my current read which helped my land my new job, 'Leave Your Mark' by Aliza Light, a fantastic read for not only people who are after a job in media, events or PR, but also for people who are after a career change and need a kick up the backside!

I think the true beauty of reading a book; whether it be a fiction novel where you can jump into another world, a true story or autobiography, it gives us time away from our every day lives, which we all need sometimes just to keep ourselves normal! Books have given me a huge amount of joy and a book shop or a library are places that you will never find me bored. They have given me inspiration, made me think about myself and those around me and have essentially had a part in the person I am. 

What are your favourite books and what would you recommend to me? I would love to know so get in touch!
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Monday, 21 March 2016

I'm Listening To...


Here is what I've been listening to in March 2016, check them out too, if you fancy it...

BLØSH - Give It Away
@bloshmusic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb5sVYgDc1Q



The Big Moon - Nothing Without You



Clean Cut Kid - Runaway


HONNE ft JONES - No Place Like Home

The Last Shadow Puppets - Aviation

Blossoms - At Most A Kiss

ZAYN - BeFoUr

LEON - Tired of Talking
@itsleonleon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v1xL0Epakc


Jack Garratt - Surprise Yourself
@JackGarratt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvFAQY5qqIc



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Monday, 14 March 2016

My time in Amsterdam...




I couldn't go to Amsterdam and not write about it could I?! After all, when me and my friends were planning our few days away there, I checked out a whole range of impressive blog posts about what to get up to in the city. If you're heading there anytime soon and want to know what it's like, the prices of things and what we found most enjoyable, or just intrigued, then here is just a snippet of what I got up to in the three days I was there...

Me and my friends decided to head there during the week (Monday-Thursday), therefore we would save a huge amount of money on flights and accommodation. When we originally booked it at the beginning of the year, I did panic thinking that weeknights were going to be a bit boring compared to if we had gone later in the week and over a weekend, but I couldn't have been more wrong! It's actually cool to go to Amsterdam any day of the week, as it's always super busy and there is still a real atmosphere in bars and snazzy areas at night.

On our first day in the city, we headed to our hostel. We stayed in a boutique hostel called CocoMama; I couldn't recommend this place enough! It was in a beautiful location (Westeinde 18, 1017 ZP Amsterdam) a little out of the city center but only a 20 second walk to the tram stop which got you to Amsterdam Central within 10 minutes. All the rooms at the hostel are different themes, which makes it quite fun, and the living space and kitchen, which are open to everyone staying there, are designed in a cool, Scandinavian style. We had breakfast each morning at the hostel after we picked up some food from a supermarket just over the road, which saved a lot of money. The best thing about CocoMama though was the staff! They couldn't do enough for you and were there to answer any questions. 

I would really recommend getting around the city via trams. You never have to wait longer than 5 minutes for one and all stops are placed conveniently close to any tourist destinations. For a 1 day tram pass it cost us €7 and for a 2 day tram pass it cost us €12. Getting the tram everywhere not only saved a lot of time and meant we could squeeze even more into our days, it also saved a lot of foot pain and aches! Another tip, make sure you have a map of Amsterdam! If you don't want to pay a huge amount for 4G over there, not everywhere has WiFi, so it's definitely worth making sure you can read a map (fortunately, I was with two others who were much better at this than myself) and keeping it on you at all times

.

On our first afternoon, we decided to hop on a canal cruise! This was gorgeous in the sunshine and a perfect relaxing thing to do after the stress of flights and finding our way around the city. We went on the Lovers Canal Cruise and it cost €11, which got us an hour long cruise with headphones, meaning everyone could listen to all the interesting information about the area and little stories in their own language. We went at around 2pm on a Monday afternoon and it was full, but enough room to sit at a table with others and enjoy the views. I would definitely recommend the canal cruise as it gave you a real insight into how local people live and it meant that we already knew a fair amount about the city within a few hours of being there.

On our second day in Amsterdam, we headed to the Sex Museum! This is placed just down the road from Amsterdam Central and although it was popular, we walked straight in and didn't feel rushed at all. It was also only €4 and actually really interesting! We went at around 11.30am and although there are parts of the museum which are a little, lets say, "out there", it's all fun really...

 

We then headed to the 'I Amsterdam' sign; this is definitely worth heading to! It's completely free and actually hilarious watching people climb all over the letters and trying to get the best photo's. It's also in a lovely area where you can just walk around and appreciate the sights of the Rijks Museum and Van Gogh Museum.

 

On the Tuesday night, we headed to the Red Light District. We were all really intrigued about what it was going to be like, but it was so much more interesting than I ever expected! Before we looked around and headed to a few bars, we went to Red Light Secrets - The Museum of Prostitution. We purchased tickets earlier on in the day for €9. I am so, so glad that we went there before looking around the area, it was so interesting and an absolute bargain for everything you learnt there! There were short videos about how everyone in the area works together as well as hearing stories about the 'girls in the windows' and how their profession really works. We pretty much learnt everything you would need to know about the area and the girls and it made you approach the area very differently and see the girls in a completely different light! I very much recommend going there to get a real sense of the area and the rules you also have to stick to there. The Red Light District itself is a really lovely area with lots to see and plenty of bars to work your way around. We ended up spending our Wednesday night there too, we loved it that much!

 

On the Wednesday morning, we made our way to the Rijksmuseum. This was a real treat for the eyes! There was just so much to see for around €15. We booked in advance and managed to go straight in, so I would definitely recommend going online beforehand. From beautiful pieces of art and huge life size doll houses to an incredible library and impressive exhibitions, you would be missing out if you didn't make the trip to this breathtaking landmark! I would also highly recommend the 'Catwalk' exhibition, it was stunning and put together so well. It was very busy but not overwhelming and we were there for a few hours from around 11.30am-2pm so it's definitely worth the money.

After spending a few hours at the Rijksmuseum, we headed to Anne Frank's house and museum. If you're planning on heading there, I strongly recommend booking in advance! We did and we jumped the queue, which was at least a two hour long wait. This was more than just having a look round, it was genuinely an experience. I read Anne Frank's diary when I was younger and have always admired her, but seeing it all in the flesh was breathtaking. It was quite a chilling time being in the rooms where the families hid for so long and seeing for yourself what it would have been like. I liked how it hadn't been changed as you could then see what it was really like for them all. Seeing marks on the walls tracking the children's heights brought tears to my eyes and nothing could have prepared me for how emotional it would actually be. It took around an hour to make our way around and there is also a cafe and a gift shop to spend time in too. It cost €9.50 in advance online. You cannot miss this place if you go to Amsterdam, you need to see it for yourself.

 

On our last day, we decided to have a ride on a bike, when in Amsterdam right?! We did some research and found MacBike, a bike rental company just around the corner from Vondelpark. For three hours we were able to rent the bikes for €11 and it was fantastic! It was so much fun to ride around the bike with hundreds of others taking in the fresh air and lovely atmosphere. We attempted to hit the road with the locals, but quickly turned around! Unless you understand the roads very well, I would highly recommend just sticking to parks because it's actually fairly dangerous and I think we almost died at least 5 times in the space of 3 minutes.

We were fortunate enough to go to some lovely little cafe's and bar's during our time in Amsterdam, but if there is one thing that I suggest you try in the city, it is the fries with lots and lots of mayonnaise! I'm a big fan of mayo here, but you've not tried mayo until you've had some from The Netherlands. Do not let the opportunity pass, if you see a fries place, do it - you will not regret it.

If you want to know anymore about mine and my friends experience in Amsterdam, get in touch and I will help where I can!




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