5 Ways To Reduce Academic Stress

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.36.11

Sometimes, I suddenly go through a writer’s block phase and I do not know what to write about. Usually, it is because I am stressed with university work. Academic stress is certainly something a lot of you are going through at the moment. A lot of people tell me they are surprised when I tell them I am stressed because apparently I am one of the most organised person they know. Well, I am stressed but I do cope with it pretty well I suppose. Here are my top tips on how to cope with stress…specifically academic stress.

1. Work-life/Social life/Study Balance – What I find that stresses out a lot of students is when they have other activities on their mind, such as a job or socialising along with their studies. For me, that would be such a stressful thing because not only do I have to worry about getting my assignments done on time but I also need to balance my work-life. I am lucky enough to not have to worry about that but I know a lot of people aren’t. If you can manage, I would say for now, reduce those commitments, so you have time to study. Of course, you need to socialise now and then. Please do, otherwise things will get on top of you. All work and no play is certainly not a great way to go about things.

2. Study Plan – I know a lot of people dread this but I find that keeping a study plan keeps me very organised and it actually satisfies me because I know exactly what I have completed and what I need to do and by when I need to do it. It keeps me grounded. A study plan is a very good way to reduce stress. List all your subjects and modules that you need to complete and by when. Then, give yourself a limited time to do it in. Do it one by one – going in order of deadline. This makes it more easier and clear for you to follow.

3. Keep Calm & Breath – Do some light exercises. Yoga and Pilates reduces stress and keeps you calm. Along with exercise, you must make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep. Get at least 7 hours sleep a day. I would NOT suggest pulling all-nighters. I don’t know how people do it. Sleep is very important to reduce stress and prevent illnesses.

4. Ask For Help – This is something I find a lot of people struggle with. They don’t like to admit that they are stressed and actually need some professional help. Universities and colleges all have counselling services. A lot of people go to them during the exam period. It will be an extra way to reduce stress if you can talk to a professional about your worries because they are the ones who can help you manage your academic stress. Do not be afraid. Ask for help if you need it.

5. Lower Your Goals – It is easy for you to say you want the highest grade but make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure. The worst thing you can do is targeting yourself the highest grade, stressing yourself out to get that grade and in the end, failing to get it due to the pressure of it all. Be realistic. Set a goal that you will be satisfied with and is achievable for you. Look through your past grades and think about if the grade you want is achievable for your academic level.

 

Is Work Experience Worth It?

Image

People often have a rather cynical view of work experience and in this economy, we are seeing a lot of youth unemployment. Many of that is down to no experience or a lack of motivation to go out and find a job and yes, I know the government has a part to play in this and they are offering a lot of training opportunities for young people who do not go to university. However, unfortunately, if we do go to university, a degree is simply not enough. In any sector now, you need to have some kind of experience outside of education and many of them are unpaid.

In 2012, I completed eight unpaid work experience placements and now, with me being in my final year of university, I have a lot of experience under my belt for after graduation. One of the reasons why I excelled at getting those placements is because luckily, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I was simply aiming for that, which does makes things easier.

There is nothing wrong about not knowing what you want to do but that is what work experience is for. Finding out what you are good at and where you want to go. When people think of work experience, they think of a job that you want to do in the future but that is not necessarily the case at all. If you don’t know what you want to do, I suggest you think long and hard about what you like, what you don’t like, what you are good at, what you are not good at and find a sector that you think you may want go into and research that.

I have had ambitions ever since I was young to work in the media, specifically in the music industry. I got my first work experience placement at a music studio in Year 10 and I really enjoyed it. Since then, I wanted to be a music journalist because I loved new music and I was obsessed with certain bands – I thought I really wanted my future to be based around the music industry. A few years down the line, I could not have been more wrong and that is down to work experience.

When I eventually got my first undergraduate work placement during my first year at university, I did something that was nothing to do with music. I worked at BBC Radio 4 for one month and then I did a lot more unpaid radio and TV work placements.

By meshing all of those work placements together, I am now confident enough to tell you exactly what I want to do as a career because I had a lot of different experience to come to a decision about what I really want to do. Sometimes, you may think a certain job is so amazing yet you have not had a chance to work there but when you eventually do, it may not be what you were expecting and vice versa – a job that you really think won’t be to your taste but when you do it, it may perhaps be your dream job. So, do not knock it, until you have tried it.

What I am trying to put across is that, do not be put off by unpaid experience because all my placements made me gain so many skills and industry based knowledge. It did a lot to improve my confidence and self-esteem. I also got to see how the world of work will be like, so it has prepared me for the real thing. Most importantly, I made amazing contacts (who I hassle now and then for a job). Now, I will not have to do what many students do after I complete my degree – go out and look for unpaid work experience, which to me is a waste of time after graduation. I do not want to be unemployed after I leave university.

Also, what I want to stress is that, people think work experience is just making tea. Well, I do not know about other industries, but certainly when I was on work experience, they basically threw me in at the deep end straight away and I had to do big tasks. They treated me like I was an actual member of the team and people relied on me to finish a task promptly. I did not even have to make a single cup of tea to be honest with you. So, it may be unpaid but it may not be what you are expecting it to be like and you get so much out of it for the future.

So, in a nutshell, what I did was, whilst being at university, I did as much unpaid work experience as I can to make myself ready for employment freshly out from university in 2014. That is what employers look for, experience as well as qualification but to me, experience overshadows everything.

I am in my third year now and along with two dissertation to do, I am also starting to think about if I want to do a postgraduate degree or apply to paid graduate schemes or even proper jobs and applying to graduate schemes and jobs feels right because I feel qualified and ready, or rather I will do after I graduate and perhaps after working in the industry for a couple years, I may want to get back into education to do my Masters.

To me, work experience is so important. In fact, it is a must if you want to get a good job. Work experience can also be life-changing, because for me, it was and to answer the question of this article, yes, work experience is so worth it.

Following Your Dreams

yI have wanted to write about this for quite a while now because it is very close to my heart and it is about following your dreams instead of your parents’ or peers because that is what I did and I must say, it has been a hard couple of years because of having no support in what I chose to do – career wise but I do not regret it one bit.

In the Asian/Muslim culture, creative subjects are seen as something that will not give you a rather secure financial future and so it is often scrutinised. I have always loved the media ever since I was little and I knew I wanted to work in this industry. I was never an academic child. I loved creativity and subjects like music but that is seen as a negative thing in my culture.

Coming from a rather academic family, I was expected to choose a more academic subject to study at college and university but no, I chose to study a subject within the media because that is what I had a passion for.

I know a lot of people who love the arts but yet their parents wanted them to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant etc… and so they are pursuing that as a degree and not because they want to but they feel obliged to. Many parents in the Asian culture want their children to achieve what they themselves have not achieved when they were young and so I guess they think if their child achieves that, then it will make up for what they have not done and make them feel better about it.

Many people think that if you study a creative subject, it will not be a financial goldmine but the way I see it is why can it not be? If you truly have the passion for a certain subject and have the talents to do well in it, then why can you not earn as much as a doctor or a lawyer can?

I would really urge anyone, especially young people who’s parents are telling them to study a certain subject at college or university that you are not interested or passionate in, then please do not do it because in the long run, it will not do you any good. Do what you want to do whether it is English, Music, Art, Media, Photography etc…

I am not saying rebel against your parents., of course not. Sit them down, explain to them about what you really want to do and what opportunities there are in the future for you. Make them understand that it is not all bad.

At the end of the day, you have one life and you are living that life so you should do what you want to do. There is so much more to life than having a safe career. Go out there and follow your dreams.

How To Be A More Organised Person

One thing about me that people often point out is that I am a very organised person when it comes to everyday life. This comes from a perfectionist side to me. I like get things done in good time. Here are some of my tips for how to be more organised.

Write Things Down/Set Goals

Grocery list, someone’s birthday, doctors appointment or even a trip to the post office – write everything down and tick them off as you go along! Set yourself weekly goals. Every Sunday, I open up my weekly planner app on my phone and write everything I need to do in the coming week, Monday to Sunday. A weekly to-do-list. Honestly speaking, I would feel completely lost without a to-do-list. I need to visually see what I have coming up and what needs to get done each day. This prepares me for the week ahead and mentally motivates me to complete those tasks, in which I go ahead and do. Writing things down is a must if you want to be more organised.

Clean As You Go

Whenever I do something, be it studying, cooking etc…I do not wait until I finish to tidy my mess. I like to clean as I go, meaning working yet keeping things the way they are or putting them back neatly before the whole task is finished. That makes life easier and I do not have to tidy anything at the end. Always try to not to make a mess. If that is unavoidable, clean it up as soon as possible.

Put Things In Order

Colour coded, chronological, brand type, product type etc… I find that if you organise your personal stuff in order, it makes it easier for me to find things when I need it and therefore no time is wasted.

Get Rid Of Unwanted Things

I had a habit of keeping things just for the sake of it, even if I did not even need them anymore. Now I always try to get rid of anything that just takes up space. Get rid of unnecessary junk in your home, room etc… If there is a piece of clothing you do not wear anymore, put it up for sale on ebay or just simply give it to charity. If you have a camera that does not work anymore, throw it in the bin.  It will only just take up space. Old bank statements, letters etc… get a shredder and shred them all. What use would it be if you keep it?

Make Things A Habit

I wake up at 6am everyday because it is a habit. I work out everyday because it is a habit and I am motivated to do these things because they have become a habit. Making things a habit cannot just happen overnight. If you want to make a positive change to your life, start slowly. For example, if you want to wake up at 6am to work out but have never done so before, you will only set yourself up for failure. Instead, go to bed earlier and have an intention in your head to wake up early to work out. Set your alarm 15 minutes before your work out time and see what happens. Do not beat yourself up if you cannot do it. You have to give yourself realistic actions and then slowly implement them. Change takes time.

How To Find Work Experience Placements/Internships

ImageThey say experience matters over qualifications but I think both of them go hand in hand depending on what career field you are aiming for. My field is within the media and in this industry, you need experience more so than qualifications.

I have been on many work placements and internships and people often ask me how I actually secure them, as I went from one placement to the next very quickly. In 2012, it seemed like I never stopped working and chasing those dream placements. I have completed work placements at BBC Radio 4, Absolute Radio, Channel 4, Whistledown Productions for BBC Radio and Global Radio – LBC 97.3 as well as work shadowing placements at BBC’s Radio 1, 2 and 6 Music. I completed all those placements in the space of 9 months and to many people and to myself, that is pretty impressive. So, how did I get all those placements and what tips can I give you to secure one yourself? Keep reading to find out!

How I Secured My Work Placements

I have always wanted to work for the BBC ever since I was little. That is like the dream. I wanted to work at BBC Radio (any station) for my Year 10 work experience but that was proving to be rather difficult. You could say that I was not that creative then and also not that confident. However, it was a dream that I was determined to achieve so I kept on applying and applying via the BBC Careers website and got a lot of rejections but I still never gave up.

When I was 18, I got into university to study a media related course and within 4 months of being on that course, I got my first ever BBC work experience placement at Radio 4 for one month, which quite literally changed my life. I guess you could say that being on an undergraduate course at university helps you to secure those placements because it shows that you are studying the field and therefore employers are more likely to hire you for a week or two. Luckily for me, there was a module solely on work placements and we were encouraged to find a work placement and then evaluate it in an essay form after we completed the placement. I did mine on Radio 4.

ImageThis is a picture I took of the old BBC Broadcasting House where Radio 4/Radio 3 broadcasts from as well as the BBC Radio Theatre.

ImageA picture I took of the Channel 4 building in Horseferry Road, London during my placement. This was during the London Olympics/Paralympics hence the Paralympics ‘4’.

ImageI did some interviews and reporting for LBC News with this LBC microphone.

Throughout my time at Broadcasting House (Radio 4) I made a lot of amazing contacts. I was determined to get into Radio 1 and so someone kindly gave me their Radio 1 contact. Through that, I got to work shadow Fearne Cotton’s show on Radio 1 for two days which was absolutely surreal. I then made more contacts and got work shadowing placements at Radio 2 and 6 Music. I got my LBC placement through a contact too, but I applied for Absolute Radio and Channel 4, and made sure my application form stood out and had a unique twist to it and I got them!

So, my main tips to get a work placement are…

Never Give Up!

You will get rejected. That is a part of life. The main thing is to never give up. If you truly want something in life, you should never give up because speaking from experience, if you keep trying, one day it will happen. So keep applying!

Make Your Application Stand Out

Making your application stand out is often always said but how do you make it stand out exactly?. Well, for me, I decided to add a unique touch to mine. For example, in my Channel 4 application, I said that in my culture, the media industry is looked down upon and there is not many Muslim/Asian people working in the media and I said that I wanted to change that. If I was part of the C4 HR department, I would be pretty impressed by that sentence because I said that I wanted to make a difference and I guess they liked that and offered me a chance to work there. So try to add something in the application that shows how you will benefit from the placement.

University? 

This is obviously optional and university is not for everyone but for me, I really do think that university helped me get those work placements, or at least the first one. If you are at university,  go to your careers departement and ask them for help on CV’s, application forms etc… If you are not at university, try to do something else as a hobby that can show your interest in the field you are applying for. For example, if you want to work for a magazine, start a blog and state that you love writing and your blog could be the proof.

Clean Up Your CV

Your CV is the most important thing. Clean it up. Update it and keep it simple. Tailor it to the position you are applying for. Get it checked by someone.

Contacts, Contacts, Contacts! 

NETWORK. Make contacts. That is the main thing that got me most of my placements. I made a lot of contacts and they recommended me people I could talk to. Email them showing your interest in their company, do your research and ask to meet for a quick chat. Keep in touch with them. You must make contacts because you never know, in a few years down the line, they could give you your dream job.

On top of all that, I think passion and determination is what you need  to secure work placements that actually will benefit you and help you in your journey to your career development.