Thursday, 18 July 2019

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteering can benefit you greatly and bring so many opportunities. Now that it’s summer and you’ve got more free time, we’ve come up with some of the top benefits that may tempt you to get out the house and make an impact in your local community. 

Meet new people

Whilst volunteering, you’ll meet a load of new people who you may not normally cross but could turn out to be one of your best friends. This can be an invaluable life experience.

Build confidence

Along with meeting new people and gaining new friends, your confidence will grow as you speak to more people, whether they are colleagues or customers, you’ll certainly see an increase in your confidence. Along with that, seeing what you can achieve will give you confidence in your skills and potential too, which is key for future jobs.

Develop transferable skills

As well as building confidence in your skills, you will also gain some transferable skills as a volunteer. You may develop communication skills from talking and liaising with customers. You may develop teamwork skills when working effectively with your colleagues. Any skills you gain will be beneficial in the working world.

Make a difference

It doesn’t take much to make a real impact on a project or in a community - volunteering is the perfect way to do this. It doesn’t matter whether you spend a lot of time volunteering or only a little, you’re sure to leave a memorable mark and people will certainly remember and benefit from your voluntary work!

Feel good

Of course, those who benefit from the work you do whilst volunteering will feel great from your work, but you’ll also feel an enormous sense of achievement. It is a really rewarding use of your time.

Experience for your CV

Volunteering is really valued amongst employers - it’ll stand out on your CV. It demonstrates to them many different skills and traits about you, and it shows that you are passionate, hardworking and driven!

Helps towards personal awards

At Herts, we have a range of awards that your volunteering experience will count towards. If you haven’t heard of our Go Herts Award, find out more by clicking here and prepare to take part next year! This award recognises students who take part in extra-curricular activities outside of their degree.

You can also log your hours on your Volunteer profile on the SU website, and you will receive a certificate that formally recognises all of your hard work.

There are so many opportunities to volunteer, within the University, and outside. You can volunteer to be a Freshers’ Angel, which involves helping new students to Herts. You have opportunities to do one-off volunteering, local volunteering and student-led volunteering projects. Check these out on the SU website.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Your Student of the Year!

On Thursday 27 June, the winners of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards (VCAs) were revealed as all of our finalists, their colleagues, friends and families gathered in The Forum for the annual awards ceremony. We presented a range of different awards including Student of the Year, Alumni of the Year, Student experience award, Team of the Year, Tutor of the Year and many more.

Aoife Simpson, who studies with our School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, took home the award for Student of the Year recognising her consistently high achievements and dedication to embracing our Graduate Attributes. Here’s what she had to say about her award:

I am incredibly surprised and honoured to have received the Vice Chancellor’s Student of the Year Award. I came to the University of Hertfordshire with less-than ideal A-Level grades, feeling very unsure of myself and my abilities. Through the fantastic support of staff and fellow students, I made it through a foundation year and went on to complete an MPhys in Astrophysics. 

Alongside my degree, I have developed a keen interest in outreach work which consisted of working with the planetarium both at Bayfordbury Observatory and in schools. I have written and presented my own scripts and I am very passionate about making the STEM subjects accessible to all. It is incredibly rewarding to help the public, especially children, understand a concept which they may have initially found challenging but by working together we are able to give an insight into the science we carry out at the university. 

I strongly believe that outreach and research are equally important and without my outreach work I would not have had the confidence to complete a summer research placement in 2017 and present a poster on my research at the SEPnet Placement Expo at which my poster was placed in the top 6 out of ~ 75 posters.

Congratulations to Aoife and everyone else who not only won, but also to those who received a nomination in this year's awards! #UHVCA2019

Here's the full list of the finalists for this year's Student of the Year:

  • Aoife Simpson
  • Aaron Ellis-Montoya
  • Alexandra Buckland-Stubbs
  • Cage Boons
  • Fiona Montgomery
  • Libby Cole
  • Mitchelle Sanghvi
  • Sumaiyah Jamil
  • Victoria Singleton

New paternity leave proposals to exclude high earners could be a step backwards for gender equality

Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, University of Hertfordshire
A father’s role may have shifted massively in recent decades – from being seen as the main breadwinner or money earner in a household, to being a more active participant in family life. Yet, less than one in three new fathers in the UK currently take paternity leave.
This is despite the fact that dads today want to take a more active role in family life. Indeed, many dads say they would consider childcare as a key point when taking up a new job.
Research clearly demonstrates the benefits of new dads taking parental leave, including positive impacts on the cognitive outcomes for children and improvements in the quality of a couple’s relationship. So why the disconnect?
One of the big reasons uptake of paternity leave has been so low is because of the pay. Under the current system, dads get two weeks paternity leave paid at a statutory rate which is just shy of £150 a week. Some employers enhance this pay but it’s not mandatory. And many dads do not take advantage of this leave because of the financial implications on household budgets.
Policies should be geared towards encouraging dads’ involvement in childcare. Shutterstock

Families can also choose for both parents to share leave. Shared parental leave, which was introduced in 2015, allows dads to take more than two weeks and parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave (37 weeks of which is paid) if they meet certain eligibility criteria. But again, uptake has been minimal – thought to be a low as 2%. And one of the key reasons for this is the financial implications as it can leave many families out of pocket.
Indeed, analysis indicates that parental leave arrangements skew families’ finances in favour of new dads returning to work – even when both parents earn the same. And research shows that there would’ve been a better uptake of paternity leave and shared parental leave if new dads were paid properly.
My research also suggests some employers have failed to embrace and normalise shared parental leave in the workplace, meaning that new fathers are less likely to consider taking it.

Entrenching inequalities

Theresa May’s recent proposal to give men four weeks of paternity leave paid at 90% of their monthly salary and a further eight weeks to be paid at the statutory rate of £148.68 might sound like a step in the right direction.
But while the proposed paternity leave would be greatly welcomed by many new fathers, under the proposals high earning dads – those on more than £100,000 a year – wouldn’t be able to access the longer leave time.
The new proposals suggest that money could take the place of a dad in a child’s life. Pexels

This is concerning and has the potential to take the progress on geequalnder equality several steps back if high earning dads are to be excluded from benefiting from paid parental leave. This is because the proposal overlooks the fact that high earners are disproportionately men and barring them would entrench the inequalities that investments in childcare are supposed to resolve.
Indeed, last year, MPs called for 12 weeks paternity leave as a solution to address the gender pay gap problem – acknowledging that gender equality and the gender pay gap problem can only be resolved if dad’s involvement in family life is improved.

Redefining gender stereotypes

So although the proposed paternity leave would be better paid in the first four weeks and has the potential to ameliorate some of the problems of shared parental leave – such as dads not qualifying for shared parental leave because they have not worked for their employer for long enough – in the long-term, such changes could actually do more harm than good.
The paternity leave proposal could also mean that shared parental leave would be replaced by the new system. All of which would promote the unacceptable position of dads being breadwinners and mothers caregivers – a position 21st-century dads (and mums) are working hard to change.
It is vital, then, that these proposals are reconsidered and that paternity leave is made available to all working dads irrespective of their earnings. This is important as gender stereotypes and societal perceptions of dads who take on a caring role will only change if everyone has a stake in childcare.The Conversation
Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, Senior Lecturer and Cohort Tutor, Hertfordshire Law School, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Moon landings footage would have been impossible to fake – a film expert explains why

Buzz Aldrin on the moon. NASA / Neil A. Armstrong
Howard Berry, University of Hertfordshire
It’s been half a century since the magnificent Apollo 11 moon landing, yet many people still don’t believe it actually happened. Conspiracy theories about the event dating back to the 1970s are in fact more popular than ever. A common theory is that film director Stanley Kubrick helped NASA fake the historic footage of its six successful moon landings.
But would it really have been possible to do that with the technology available at the time? I’m not a space travel expert, an engineer or a scientist. I am a filmmaker and lecturer in film post-production, and – while I can’t say how we landed on the moon in 1969 – I can say with some certainty that the footage would have been impossible to fake.
Here are some of the most common beliefs and questions – and why they don’t hold up.
‘The moon landings were filmed in a TV studio.’
There are two different ways of capturing moving images. One is film, actual strips of photographic material onto which a series of images are exposed. Another is video, which is an electronic method of recording onto various mediums, such as moving magnetic tape. With video, you can also broadcast to a television receiver. A standard motion picture film records images at 24 frames per second, while broadcast television is typically either 25 or 30 frames, depending on where you are in the world.
If we go along with the idea that the moon landings were taped in a TV studio, then we would expect them to be 30 frames per second video, which was the television standard at the time. However, we know that video from the first moon landing was recorded at ten frames per second in SSTV (Slow Scan television) with a special camera.

To the moon and beyond is a new podcast series from The Conversation marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Listen and subscribe here.

‘They used the Apollo special camera in a studio and then slowed down the footage to make it look like there was less gravity.’
Some people may contend that when you look at people moving in slow motion, they appear to be in a low gravity environment. Slowing down film requires more frames than usual, so you start with a camera capable of capturing more frames in a second than a normal one – this is called overcranking. When this is played back at the normal frame rate, this footage plays back for longer. If you can’t overcrank your camera, but you record at a normal frame rate, you can instead artificially slow down the footage, but you need a way to store the frames and generate new extra frames to slow it down.
Apollo Lunar Television Camera, as it was mounted on the side of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module when it telecasted Armstrong’s ‘One small step’. NASA

At the time of the broadcast, magnetic disk recorders capable of storing slow motion footage could only capture 30 seconds in total, for a playback of 90 seconds of slow motion video. To capture 143 minutes in slow motion, you’d need to record and store 47 minutes of live action, which simply wasn’t possible.
‘They could have had an advanced storage recorder to create slow motion footage. Everyone knows NASA gets the tech before the public.’
Well, maybe they did have a super secret extra storage recorder – but one almost 3,000 times more advanced? Doubtful.
‘They shot it on film and slowed down the film instead. You can have as much film as you like to do this. Then they converted the film to be shown on TV.’
That’s a bit of logic at last! But shooting it on film would require thousands of feet of film. A typical reel of 35mm film – at 24 frames per minutes second – lasts 11 minutes and is 1,000 foot long. If we apply this to 12 frames per second film (as close to ten as we can get with standard film) running for 143 minutes (this is how long the Apollo 11 footage lasts), you would need six and a half reels.
These would then need to be put together. The splicing joins, transfer of negatives and printing – and potentially grains, specks of dust, hairs or scratches – would instantly give the game away. There are none of these artefacts present, which means it wasn’t shot on film. When you take into account that the subsequent Apollo landings were shot at 30 frames per second, then to fake those would be three times harder. So the Apollo 11 mission would have been the easy one.
‘But the flag is blowing in the wind, and there’s no wind on the moon. The wind is clearly from a cooling fan inside the studio. Or it was filmed in the desert.’
It isn’t. After the flag is let go, it settles gently and then doesn’t move at all in the remaining footage. Also, how much wind is there inside a TV studio?
There’s wind in the desert, I’ll accept that. But in July, the desert is also very hot and you can normally see heat waves present in footage recorded in hot places. There are no heat waves on the moon landing footage, so it wasn’t filmed in the desert. And the flag still isn’t moving anyway.

Join us as we delve into the last 50 years of space exploration and the 50 years to come. From Neil Armstrong’s historic first step onto the lunar surface to present-day plans to use the moon as a launchpad to Mars, hear from academic experts who’ve dedicated their lives to studying the wonders of space.
‘The lighting in the footage clearly comes from a spotlight. The shadows look weird.’
Yes, it’s a spotlight – a spotlight, 93m miles away. It’s called the sun. Look at the shadows in the footage. If the light source were a nearby spotlight, the shadows would originate from a central point. But because the source is so far away, the shadows are parallel rather than diverging from a single point.
Stanley Kubrick. Instituto María Auxiliadora Neuquén/Flickr, CC BY-SA

‘Well, we all know Stanley Kubrick filmed it.’
Stanley Kubrick could have been asked to fake the moon landings. But as he was such a perfectionist, he would have insisted on shooting it on location. And it’s well documented he didn’t like to fly, so that about wraps that one up… Next?
‘It’s possible to recreate dinosaurs from mosquitoes the way they did in Jurassic Park, but the government is keeping it a secret.’
I give up.The Conversation
Howard Berry, Head of Post-Production and Programme Leader for MA Film and Television Production, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Werewolves and Wildness: The Open Graves, Open Minds special issue of Gothic Studies

The first issue of Gothic Studies published by Edinburgh University Press is also the first ever issue devoted to werewolves.

 In the twenty-first century, the era of late capitalism, new werewolf myths have emerged from our cultural memory around humans and wolves. Gothic texts deal with a variety of themes just as pertinent to contemporary culture as they were to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Gothic novels first achieved popularity.

The werewolf is easily situated within themes of monstrosity, liminality and the divided self, showing it to be a decidedly Gothic creature.

This special issue of Gothic Studies and its companion edited collection of essays, In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves, and Wild Children (MUP, 2020) are intended in part to address a lack of critical writing on the werewolf.

Both these publications emerged from the groundbreaking conference organised by the Open Graves, Open Minds Project at the University of Hertfordshire, 3-5 September 2015: ‘The Company of Wolves’: Sociality, Animality, and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives – Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Feral Humans’(organised by Dr Samantha George a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the School of Humanities , Bill Hughes, and Kaja Franck; the conference was inspired in part by Kaja’s pioneering research on werewolf fiction in her PhD thesis).

During the conference, we visited the UK Wolf Conservation Trust sanctuary in Reading and observed the wolves and made a pilgrimage to the eighteenth-century grave of Peter the Wild Boy (thought to have been raised by wolves or bears) at St Mary’s Church, Northchurch in Hertfordshire.

The conference and its outputs embraced not only the werewolf but the actual wolf, with all its ambiguous characteristics of pack sociality and alleged savagery, and also narratives of wild children (who are often claimed to have been raised by wolves and thus partake of the same liminal quality as the werewolf, hovering between humanity and animality, society and nature). The conference inspired much debate about the place of the werewolf within academia and received many accolades and acknowledgements for providing a first for the UK academy.

Gothic studies can be accused (with some validity) to have become too all-encompassing; we should therefore justify our venturing into narratives of the wild child alongside the werewolf in a journal devoted to the Gothic. There is the close relationship between the werewolf and feral children; the suggested animality they share was explored at the conference. In addition, narratives of the wild child do often evoke horror as though they too are monsters (as both Nevárez and Brodski show in their articles). There is the intertextuality between the narratives of wolves, werewolves, and wild children. And many of the most significant original narratives of wild children, closely bound up with speculations on the origins of language and society, stem from the eighteenth century, when Gothic itself as a genre was born; wildness and the boundaries of language are truly Gothic themes.

One of the ways Gothic as a genre has mutated in recent years has been through its encounter with romantic fiction to create a new form, paranormal romance, which features the sympathetic monster – vampires, notably, but also subsequently other creatures, including werewolves. The twenty-first-century werewolf is thus more humanised, and this assimilation of otherness, correlated with shifts in social attitudes towards minority groups, colours contemporary werewolf narratives. This includes post-9/11 attitudes to terrorism, as examined by Marsden in his article. Alongside this has been a certain feminisation of the werewolf, with women in urban fantasy and paranormal romance often appearing as the werewolf protagonists. Alongside this, werewolf fictions may explore masculinity, as Chaplin and Evans show in their articles. The particular essence of the werewolf as animality irrupting into humanity makes them especially suited to explore concerns about nature and wildness, aligning them with the recent development of eco-Gothic as a distinct perspective within Gothic studies; Runstedler and George explore this perspective. Our contributors each respond to these new emphases on wildness and the werewolf in various and thought-provoking ways. Thus, as this new werewolf scholarship will show, to cite Kathryn Hughes, ‘in our dog-eat-dog world, it’s time for werewolves’.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Formula 1: there can be no equality in sport while women's bodies are used for promotions

Anna Tippett, University of Hertfordshire
The Dutch politician Roy van Aalst has spoken out against the removal of grid girls from Formula 1 motor racing, arguing that it is a way of patronising women. He boasted that the right-wing nationalist political party to which he belongs, Party for Freedom (PVV), will ensure that the grid girls are reinstated at the Zandvoort grand prix in 2020.
“Only a huge idiot can see a beautiful woman as a problem,” he said. “The rest of the people love it. It is part of motorsport and the PVV wants us to ensure that next year this beautiful tradition will be restored to its former glory.”
The replacement of grid girls with grid kids in 2018 marked a shift in Formula 1 to a more family-friendly atmosphere. But van Aalst’s comments echo the backlash against this transition – which included some grid girls arguing that they were being denied the right to work by “feminists”. Grid girl Lauren-Jade Pope took to Twitter to object:
Remarkably, the “feminists” so often mentioned in the debate were actually the Formula 1 bosses themselves. They made the decision to stop using grid girls because they no longer resonated with their brand values – with Sean Bratches, the managing director of commercial operations at Formula 1, stating that the inclusion of grid girls was “at odds with modern day societal norms”.

Employment opportunity?

One of the main criticisms of the scrapping of grid girls was that women would be out of work. Such criticism drew attention to the earnings that would be lost by the women as well as the idea that the decision was denying them their “right to choose” to use their bodies for aesthetic purposes and financial gain. The role of the grid girls was to carry out promotional tasks, most of which included bearing the names of sponsors to the public and cheering on the all-male racing drivers.
Prominent figures, including World Champion Lewis Hamilton, have called for the return of the grid girls. Hamilton’s rationale that “women are the most beautiful thing in the world”, alongside Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel stating he “likes women” because “they look beautiful”, serve to emphasise the deep-rooted sexism still entrenched in the motor sporting world. There is still a long way to go to eliminate these outdated views, particularly in sports such as motor racing which are traditionally categorised as male.
How The Sun reported the story. The Sun

Testimonials from former grid girls have indicated that their earnings were around £300 per day, bearing in mind the work was intermittent. Household names such as Kelly Brook, Melinda Messenger and Jodie Marsh all began their “careers” as grid girls, later crossing over to glamour modelling in lads’ mags and the like.
During the backlash to the decision in 2018, grid girl testimonies sought to label feminists as bigoted, with headlines “hitting back” at “middle-class feminists who are forcing other women out of work”.

No equality, no empowerment

Unequal representation in Formula 1 promotional modelling was itself enough to refute arguments of unfair treatment regarding employment being lost. The lack of promotional models from BME groups alongside the complete omission of men from this role highlighted a clear lack of equal opportunity (if you can call sexual objectification that). Promotional modelling also carries a rigid time limit, with “careers” in this field usually having to end by women’s mid-to-late 20s.
The message sent, particularly to young girls, was that motor racing is a male sport and – if you’re keen to be involved in it – you should aspire to be beautiful, sexualise yourself, and be prepared to drape yourself over cars and male racing drivers like an accessory.
This is a stark departure from the message being sent today, where excited grid kids – male and female – now walk on the grid with ambitions of becoming racing drivers themselves. Formula 1 must hold onto this message and not revert back to one that degrades, demoralises and dehumanises its female supporters.
That said, although Formula 1 has made progress, promotional modelling is still a feature across other sporting events, including walk-on girls (darts and cycling), ring girls (wrestling and boxing) and cheerleaders (football and basketball). Although darts walk-on girls were also axed in 2018, they made a recent “one off” return at the German Darts Grand Prix, supposedly due to prior sponsorship agreements.
There are also the “Crystals”, the all-female cheerleaders of Crystal Palace FC, who appear wearing bikinis in a promotional video for the club. Not so inspiring for any budding female footballers.

Full speed ahead

Formula 1’s move away from grid girls has indeed made it a more inclusive sport and it is time for other industries to follow its lead. Until women are given equal opportunities in sport, they will continue to be underpaid, undervalued and underrated.
Roy van Aalst’s assumption that only “huge idiots” can find beautiful women a problem emphasises the crude ignorance inherent in the many debates over the sexualisation of popular culture. Of course “beautiful women” are not a problem – nor are beautiful men, or beautiful people in general. But when you display only one sex as “beautiful” – although I think “sexualised’” would be a more fitting word for the grid girls – you serve to diminish half of society.
They are to be gazed upon and are never themselves given the authority to be the “gazers”. This is how you alienate women from aspiring to be sporting champions and instead relegate them to the sidelines, encouraging them to only ever be the cheerleaders.
If upholding the stance that favours gender equality makes me a “huge idiot”, then I am confidently and proudly one. I’m sure my daughter will thank me for it.The Conversation
Anna Tippett, Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Getting your first job

The UK job market is looking good for new graduates and the number of vacancies is steadily increasing, so make sure your efforts are rewarded by doing some preparation. Getting your first job can be a daunting task, so we’ve put together a helpful checklist of the things you should do to help you through the first steps. Remember, if you need any advice or support with your job search and applications, talk to our team at the University’s Careers and Employment service.

Your CV
It’s worth having a top quality CV as it’s the first impression a potential employer has of you and gives you a much better chance of getting that vital face to face interview, so invest some time in rewriting yours into an up-to the minute cv style that doesn’t look dated. 
Once you have this, you can tailor the CV – and your application - to each job you apply for, highlighting the relevant skills and experience that match the requirements of the job description, personal statement, or competency-based questions in the application. 
Make sure to include lots of descriptive words that showcase your skills and experience and get you to the attention of the hiring manager, showing why you are the best candidate for the job. Don't be afraid to sell yourself.

Finding your job
Once you have a great looking CV, you are ready to start your job search. First check in with the University careers and Employment service who can help get you started with great advice, ideas and essential webinars to get your search started. 
Make sure you go to several careers fairs with your CV and find out about who the companies are and what they do. But keep an open mind about who you would like to work for as it’s much better to have a job and be gaining valuable experience than be waiting for the perfect role to come up. 
If you do have a great company in mind that you have always wanted to work for, then give the human resources team a quick call, it shows initiative and that your genuinely interested. They might have entry level or graduate positions that are not listed on the website yet, and speaking in person is by far the most effective approach as you can sell yourself and your skills much more effectively than in an email.  
Registering in person with high street recruitment agencies like Hays, Reed, and Adecco and also online job boards like Indeed, are also really useful, as they have access to temporary and permanent roles and can get you work while you keep searching for a graduate role. They also have job alerts and smartphone apps to help you apply for roles as soon as they appear, and make sure you update your social media profiles as recruitment agencies often connect and post new roles on them eg. LinkedIn. 
It’s also really useful to look through the traditional regional and national press job pages as they still carry entry level positions and are a really useful source of career information. 

The Interview
You gave a great application for the job and now they want to see you for an interview. Probably the best way to prepare is to have a good look through their website and social media and see what they are most proud of. Iif they have a new product or service about to launch and you know about it, it will show just how interested you are in the company. 
Also look through the job description again and see how you answered the questions as they might crop up again in the interview, you can also research common interview questions to give you an idea of what they will ask. Be confident, friendly and sell yourself - answer their questions clearly and succinctly but don’t ramble on. 

You gave it your best shot and… 
Maybe you didn’t get the job. You may be feeling a bit rejected when you went out at the application stage or after interview – and this is totally natural and something everyone experiences when they are looking for a new job. You can turn this to your advantage by contacting the company and asking for feedback about how the interview went. Asking your interviewer what you did well at, and where you can improve can really help you approach the next job application with an increase in self-knowledge and confidence and will help you get the next job!

You gave it your best shot again and… 
You’ve got the job! It’s a good feeling, and you should definitely go out and celebrate. Also make sure you fill out any paper work the company’s HR team send you and find out as much as you can about your first day of employment – where do you need to go, and who do you need to talk to. When you start on your first day, make sure you ask lots of questions, get to know your colleagues and enjoy the buzz of a new job!

Joe Bond
Internal Communications Coordinator

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Five Tips to Improve Your Portfolio

Portfolios are both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to let your work speak for itself, but also means that you need to put a lot of work into perfecting it. With some job listings receiving dozens or even hundreds of applications, it's easier than ever to be overlooked. But there are things you can do to make your work stand out above the rest. Here are some of the most important things you can do to improve your portfolio. 

1. Presentation matters

We like to think it's the content that really matters and not whatever is around it... But in reality, it's just not that simple. Whether it's hosted on a website or a printed portfolio, presentation says a lot about you. So, go all out! Develop a brand for yourself with a logo and a colour scheme, and be consistent in its application throughout your portfolio and CV. 

2. Go for quality over quantity

Though it may be tempting to show off all of your work, you should only pick your strongest, most recent pieces. It will be easier to digest for the recruiter and leave a much stronger impression of your work. Put more effort in the few that you do show off and go into greater detail.

3. Show off the process

It's not just the final product that employers want to see. Seeing rough sketches/ideas from the initial stages, things you tried which did not work for you, variations of the final piece of work... All of these are an important part of your thinking process, so don't be afraid to show it. And if you're breaking down a group-based project, make sure you're very clear about your role.

4. Don't forget the context

When it comes to context, we have to look at both the placement and content. You may not be a great writer, but that's no reason to ignore this vital part of your portfolio. Have people proof read your copy to filter out any spelling errors - which can be absolutely damning if left in. And there is nothing wrong with learning from the masters and copying a look you really like.   

5. The tailored approach

If there is a workplace you're really gunning for, then pull out all the stops. Tailor your portfolio to this particular company by doing some research. Look at their website, pick apart their work and figure out what they care about. Try to use some of the language they use in your portfolio and use examples of your work which is most relevant to them.

And finally, a secret strategy which has helped me personally: don't rely solely on your website and digital means. If you're invited for an interview, bring a printed portfolio and let the recruiters leaf through it. We humans are tactile creatures and being able to see and hold things simply makes us happy. 

Dana Stoof 
Animator at TopLine Film
University of Hertfordshire Alumna

Monday, 10 June 2019

Top 8 webinars to prepare you for Graduate life

Graduating this Summer? Take a look at our leavers programme of webinars that are taking place to help you over the coming weeks and months. Our online webinars will help you outline your career options as a new graduate and cover strategies to help you make informed decisions, plan your next steps and stay positive and motivated.

Starting your job search can be daunting, so we have online webinars to help you work out how to plan your job/course search and identify suitable websites and sources to find the right jobs, internships or courses for you.

We also have Webinars covering creating an effective CV, personal statements, preparing for online psychometric tests, networking on LinkedIn, pre-interview research, tackling competency questions at the interview and tips for negotiating your salary and making a great first impression.  As you can see, we’ve got you covered!

And if you decide that you want to continue to study and enhance your qualifications then watch our postgraduate webinar on how to decide on, apply and fund a postgraduate course.

Top 8 Webinars:

#2           How to search for a graduate job

#6           Getting the most from LinkedIn

#7           Preparing for Interviews

Book your place for any of these webinars through CareerHub by searching ‘Leavers’ in the events section.

Michael Chapman - Careers and Employment Officer

Friday, 7 June 2019

Living on Campus during Summertime

As an international student living on campus, it may seem like your summer is bound to be full of long, boring days – especially now that most students have returned home and have left the campus feeling a little deserted. But that doesn’t have to be the case! I stayed on-campus during the summer time for two years and found that there actually are great things I can do to keep myself from being bored all summer long. Here’s a few great ways I spend my time…

Although the amount of students on campus over summer is significantly less than at other times of the year, you definitely will not be alone. Just like you, there are other students on campus who are open to socialising and having fun – some might even be people you already know! So reach out to them and spend some time together – even if it’s just to do something small/inexpensive like watching a movie on Netflix together.

Travel and Explore
Being free from the pressures of deadlines and coursework is great, but you might start to get a bit bored when most of your friends are at home/on holiday and you’ve caught up on all the little things you wanted to catch up on. So, why not take advantage of your free time to visit your surroundings? From places close by, like Hatfield House and St. Albans Cathedral, to cities and towns miles away there are a million and one things for you to do here. And what better time for you to explore what the varying locations have to offer than during the lovely British summer?

Get a Part Time Job
In between all that travelling and socialising, you might end up spending more money than you normally would during term time, so you might want to consider getting a part-time job. It’s not only an additional way to fund your summer fun, but it’s also a great way to gain some relevant experience and develop your skills. However, it’s important to remember that you can only work for a maximum of 20 hours every week during term time – so make sure to take care when it comes to that! You can have a look on the Students’ Union website and the Careers Hub website  throughout the year to find some jobs that might appeal to you.

Attend Workshops/Events
Another rather useful and beneficial option I’ve found, is to attend workshops and events to develop my skill set. Over summer, there are so many events designed for you to build your professional network and potentially give your CV a boost. The events section of the Careers Hub is a great place to find workshops and careers fairs taking place both internally and externally – and the best part is that most of them are completely free to attend! An added benefit is that you can meet other people who are probably students living on campus and build some great friendships!

Written by Judith Ogboru - International Student

Thursday, 6 June 2019

The benefits of staying physically active over summer

Summertime is a less intense period in contrast to the past academic year. For others of you who are still on placements or working on research projects, there may still be a familiar sense of structure and routine. Either way, the benefits of staying physically active could help you maintain a healthy body and mind.

“Physical activity” can include any type of exercise or prolonged movement, but other activities like diet, sleep, hobbies/interests, socialising, and summer work are essential. Finding balance between being active and other commitments and/or your academic workload can be tricky, but the rewards can be fruitful.

Regular activity

There’s good evidence that regular (physical) activity can enhance our physical and mental wellbeing, positively affecting mood, alertness, and energy levels. The key word is “regular”. Regular and consistent physical activity among other helpful activities promotes a sense of purpose and commitment towards taking care of ourselves.

Different forms of regular activity work together more effectively than individually, e.g. irregular and low-quality sleep will affect our appetite, mood and energy levels. Our bellies can become confused about when to expect food if our sleeping/eating patterns are irregular, which can impact our diet, our capacity to exercise, work, socialise, etc.

A regular balanced diet can also help your physical and mental wellbeing. Investing time in your interests and socialising with trusted people can also provide ways of maintaining a support structure and help us cope with daily challenges. Socialising can produce pleasure; working can promote satisfaction; investing time in our interests/hobbies reinforces engagement and fulfilment—all things that contribute to staying physically and psychologically well.

However, maintaining regular physical activity isn’t always straightforward or easy.

Know your limitations

Putting too much pressure on yourself to stick inflexibly to a routine can backfire: unplanned events do happen, and we must find ways to adapt, which may involve postponing our planned activities without being destructively self-critical if we feel we’ve failed. Knowing your limitations is also important, so setting realistic goals plays a crucial role in maintaining wellbeing.

Prolonged worrying if you’re not able to sleep or exercise enough can cause anxiety, self-critical thoughts, and feeling low. Developing an understanding and tolerant way of being with yourself can enhance your resilience and help you recover from difficult or unfavourable circumstances.

Get support from those around you

You may find it difficult to socialise over the summer if, for example, many of your friends are not around. There may be some classes or activities at UH or around your local area, so it might be worth checking some of those out.

Sometimes you may not be in the mood to be physically active. Could you find ways to listen and understand what you need? In some situations, trying to be active even if you’re not feeling good can help lift your mood. Sometimes we may need to be active first even if our minds and bodies aren’t in the right frame of mind to do so. You can also reach out and speak to someone you trust: friends, family, your tutor, and you’re welcome to contact Student Wellbeing about any concerns you’re having.

Peter De Santis Counsellor University of Hertfordshire