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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Work experience during studies - getting ahead of the pack

This is a guest blog on behalf of Middlesex University.
With record unemployment figures facing the country and the number of young people out of work between 16 and 24 now nearing one million, the jobs market is becoming increasingly competitive in the UK. To stay ahead of the pack, graduates in particular are faced with extra demands in order to secure a position after university because employers are asking for more understanding and expertise than ever.

In order to learn more about a chosen industry, many people are utilising the internet to network with contemporaries and learn more about their trade from the people who make headlines in the industry. Others, meanwhile, feel the need to extend their skillset through education at postgraduate courses at Middlesex University in London or other institutions. However, there's nothing better than some hands-on experience, particularly if it can be done in conjunction with studies.

Work experience not only provides you with a great understanding of your future; it also gives you lots of practical experience to boost your CV. Without directly involving yourself in employment, it's often tough to truly understand what you're good at. Particularly when you're a student, it seems only right to give yourself the opportunity to try it out because you may find that you're better at something else or simply don't like the job you're trying for. After so much hard work, as well as money spent on associated courses, you could find your choices to be a wasted investment.

Of course, the biggest bonus of working while you're a student is that it helps you meet experts in the field and will give you the opportunity to build up a network of contacts that may be able to give you career guidance. Furthermore, if jobs come up in your sector with businesses you've worked with, your previous commitments could see you shortlisted for such roles without having to go through what are often lengthy application processes.

Naturally, a major pay-off with work as a student is the money you'll make directly from the experience. After all, student fees are rising; three out of every four universities are now charging the full £9,000 for one year of studies. Getting a job, could therefore be the best way to balance career progression and also lower your debts following undergraduate degree. Even better, it could help pay for your next step, such as a postgraduate course.
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Welcome guest bloggers

Do you blog? Would you like more exposure for your blog? If you would like to write a guest blog please get in touch.

Maybe you are a journalism or PR student looking for ways to build up your writing portfolio. Or are you a business with a message for students? Perhaps you are just someone with an opinion on anything to do with freelance students, graduates, small businesses, outsourcing and jobs.

If you have something to say and think the StudentGems blog is an appropriate platform let us know.
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Thursday, 14 April 2011

From StudentGems to Stardom?

If you’ve visited our YouTube channel you will have seen the video made by ITV West which they broadcast last year. It featured Saskia, one of our talented students who has been paying her way through uni by doing one-off jobs and projects, largely through StudentGems.

A talented writer, she has has had numerous copy writing, PR and design jobs through the site, but her first love is singing. She has just released her first single and the review in New Beats Media compares her to artists such as Lily Allen and describes her as ‘a promising young star’ and talks of her being propelled to stardom! Of course we could have told them that ages ago!

Want to listen? Free download here!

Well done Saskia, from everyone at StudentGems… remember us when you’re an internationally renowned diva!!
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2011

Here's a great competition for all you talented writers...

Once again, Bradt and The Independent on Sunday have combined forces to seek out the very best in travel writing. Entrants can be first-time or experienced writers.

The prize is an amazing holiday for two in Eastern Turkey through Anatolian Sky Holidays, plus a commission for an article to be published in The Independent on Sunday. There is an additional prize, only open to previously unpublished writers, of an overseas travel-writing course courtesy of Travellers’ Tales.

This year’s theme is ‘Up the creek…’ which can be interpreted metaphorically or literally.

The closing date is noon on Friday 20 May so get writing now!  

Further details and rules can be found at

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Monday, 11 April 2011

Can you develop iPhone/Android apps? Apply here…

Ok, that could be slightly misleading because as you are reading this there may be no app-developing jobs currently posted on StudentGems.
But we are often asked for students who can develop apps for any or all of the mobile platforms and it seems that universities are lagging behind in equipping students with the hands-on skills that businesses want right now. I am very happy to be contradicted on this by any unis out there who are teaching app development (and also ask them to tell their students to register with us, so they can get paid experience and help SMEs into the bargain.)

Maybe it’s not a big enough area, maybe course content takes a while to change. Perhaps all those students with the right skills are fully occupied developing apps already! Whatever the reason, we have thousands of web developers/custom programmers signed up, but when an app needs building they all go strangely silent.
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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part Two - LinkedIn

So you're on facebook. You've started using twitter. What else can you do to improve your online presence? How about LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has often been referred to as the 'professional person's facebook' and that's a pretty good analogy. It has recently undergone a massive revamp and now has plenty of whistles and bells added. With over one million new members signing up every week they must be doing something right!

The theory behind LinkedIn is based on the networking principle that an introduction is always better than a cold call. Whether you are talking about a business lead or a new job, there is far more credibility attached to a personal recommendation.

To get started on LinkedIn you register and create a profile - all sound familiar so far?! This is very much a work based profile, with options to add all jobs and education institutions, plus links to your blog, twitter account, even your StudentGems profile!

Then you need to build your connections; a two-way process (unlike twitter) where you are not 'connected' until the other person 'accepts' your invitation. Once you are connected you can see who that person knows as well as 2nd/3rd level connections, some of which could be very useful to you in your future career. Once connected, you can ask for introductions to people who may be able to help you with your job search, or give you information about a potential employer. LinkedIn also serves as an effective way for employers and job seekers to review listed professional information about each other.

Unlike facebook, this is one network where you DO want your boss listed in your connections, and if you can get them to write a recommendation so much the better!

LinkedIn is growing all the time. Have a look and see what it could do for you!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part One - Twitter

So everyone knows that facebook is the social media must-have for students. Much has been written about the need for privacy settings being set to stop employers finding out a little too much about potential employees.

But what of all the other social media offerings? None have yet been favoured by students to the enormous extent of facebook, yet could be of more importance in the job-seeking world.

Take twitter for example. Sure, some students have embraced twitter and regularly engage with their followers. The majority still 'don't get it' or perhaps don't want to get it! Twitter has been adopted by the business community much more readily because they can see the benefits of an instant online presence and the ability to engage with their customers and potential customers almost on a personal level. They have not been slow to add it to their marketing mix.

So does it follow that students can also use twitter to market themselves to businesses who are a potential employer? The answer is an emphatic "Yes!"

Twitter is being increasingly used by organisations for recruitment.The benefits are obvious - after all, how long can it take to write 140 characters to say you are hiring  a new xxxxx? Additionally there are plenty of job boards feeding their latest vacancies on twitter in real time, including us, as well as feed aggregators who try to feed all jobs across multiple sources.

If you think twitter might help you in your job search process, here are some tips on how to go about it:

  1. Create a twitter account (with a sensible name) and make sure you complete all of the profile information including a photo/image.
  2. Follow people who interest you, whether that's because they are personal friends, celebs, interesting businesses, potential employers or just entertaining tweeters. Try and develop a good mix of people to follow and then by tweeting interesting things yourself you will build up your own list of followers. Responding to other tweets generally encourages people to follow you.
  3. Tweet regularly about things which interest you so that anyone looking at your profile will begin to build up a positive impression.
  4. Think about using an application like tweetdeck to organise your followers. then you can categorise them however you want, eg. friends, celebs, uni, news, employers, etc.
  5. Remember, twitter is instant. Be ready to react if you see something interesting. Comment straightaway while it's topical. If you see a job opportunity get details of how to send your CV immediately (and make sure your CV is up-to-date ready for that crucial moment!)
Is it really likely? Here's an example of one student, Sophie, who did just that. Following a well known businesswoman, Sophie saw a tweet saying they were hiring. Within 10 minutes she had replied and got an email address to send off her CV. Within another 5 minutes she had checked her CV, tweaked it slightly to emphasise the relevant bits for this particular role, and sent it off with a covering email reminding them she had seen the job on twitter 15 minutes earlier. Ok, this was for an internship not a full-time job, but she was successful and got a great high profile internship for her CV. Oh, and it was paid too! 

Finally, follow us on twitter for all the latest jobs, news and general ramblings! @studentgems - say hi and we'll follow you back :-)

Coming soon - Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part Two - Linked In

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