And dream of sheep

On a cold day in February, I had the fantastic opportunity to come across Romney Marsh Wools, a small but at the same time flourishing family business in Kent, founded in 2008. The family farm has re-introduced the many uses for their Romney wool by bringing to the public luxurious products such as hats, scarves, throws, lanolin-based toiletries and natural creams to name but a few. My strong interest in social media and communication as well as a family past in the knitwear industry blended perfectly for the position of Social Media Marketer and encouraged me to apply for it through the University of Kent’s CV Competition.

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I was called for an interview and at my arrival, Kristina Boulden, one of the company’s owners with Paul Boulden, welcomed me warmly to the farm. As I entered the office, I noticed the countless number of prizes and posts covering the office walls, which surrounded the small desk, where all the intensive marketing activity takes place. The rest happens in the remaining thousand acres in which the sheep farming occurs. Two weeks later, I received the delightful news that I had been accepted for the position.

On my first day of work, I had the opportunity to meet Emma, the Digital Marketing Manager, who together with Kristina introduced me to the many facets of the business and opened my eyes to the fascinating history of Romney wool in the South-Eastern Region. During the two weeks, I had to carry out a variety of tasks including posting on social media, creating a newsletter, updating the products on their website as well as coming up with new ideas for promotions to increase the number of followers on the various social media platforms. For my work project, I had also to conduct some market research which involved contacting various retailers in the UK and asking them about their customers shopping habits, buying behaviour and demographics to be used for the marketing campaign. In addition, I had to use Mailchimp to create a promotional newsletter on Aragon Yarns, a supplier of the business and add their vast range of products on the company’s website. It was very challenging and at the same time incredibly rewarding because I could contribute with my ideas directly to the reality of the business. In one of the tasks, I even had to write a blog post on sheep farming, something which I had never done before and this greatly contributed to broaden my knowledge on the many different activities on a farm.

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Being on a small family business, you can really feel part of each stage of the process from the production to the very final product and integrate all of them in your marketing campaign. There is so much you can do every single day on a farm and being knowledgeable is not enough: you need passion for the job. The hard work of Kristina, Paul, Emma and all other farmers is a testimony to this, which rendered my experience at the farm even more inspiring.

In the two weeks at Romney Marsh Wools, I have learnt so much not only about a job but also about a lifestyle. My thanks go to Kristina, Paul and Emma and the University of Kent Employability Service for making this experience possible.

– Valeria Trabattoni is a 1st year Psychology student at the University of Kent

Without any training, it’s pouring, it’s raining

The University of Kent Work Experience Bursary has been extremely valuable to me. I am trying to obtain a training contract and found my ideal firm. The next step was to attend their vacation scheme, and this meant giving up the opportunity to work after my exams until July. This would have left me in a difficult position had I not had access to the bursary. The bursary ultimately gave me the opportunity to spend 5 days working at the law firm, which enabled me to develop relationships with the members of staff there, including those who are able to give me a training contract. I was given the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and potential that I have, instead of having to rely on what I can portray in a written application. The vacation scheme gave me the opportunity to experience four different departments at the firm, which not only provided me with skills tailored to each area of law, but also taught me to learn how to adapt to working in different teams throughout the week.

The most important skill that I gained from the placement was how to handle the responsibility that you are given as someone on work experience at a firm, and how to carry out tasks to my best ability in order to be rewarded with more. By the end of the placement, I had developed strong relationships with the senior members of staff which meant that I could go directly to them for more challenging work.

Our final day of the placement was spent doing a group task. We were given a variety of tasks which allowed the firm to see how well we could work together, culminating in a presentation of our ideas. The experience was more valuable than I could have ever realised at the time. I have previously suffered with nerves when speaking publically, or even to a small group of people. Instead, my confidence had grown so much over the course of the week that I was given the best feedback out of everyone in the group, and was deemed a leader. It was a brilliant learning curve for me.

I’d like to thank those behind the Bursary scheme for enabling me to undertake this opportunity. I am waiting to hear back about my training contract application, and would never have been in this position without the scheme.

– Summer Prior is studying Law at the University of Kent

I might be standing in a crowded dockyard faraway

As part of my work experience at the Historic Dockyard Trust, Chatham, I helped to digitise their ongoing library audit. This involved copying up paper audit reports onto the computer which required a great deal of sustained concentration and attention to detail, meaning I have enhanced both of these skills. Being part of this library audit has helped me to gain a greater comprehension of cataloguing and accessioning.

Furthermore I helped to monitor humidity levels and temperature across the site. Using this technology I have learnt about the importance of regular monitoring as well as the need to update and check equipment. I have also helped to properly catalogue a large number of maps, plans and blueprints which has helped me to understand the necessity of proper cataloguing within a museum environment. This has also given me first-hand experience handling old documents.

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Come sail your ships around me

I spent 5 days working at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, as a volunteer alongside the Archives and Collections team. The Historic Dockyard is a former naval dockyard, which now operates as an independent museum. The site contains many listed buildings, and must balance typical museum work such as exhibitions and events while generating funds through renting office space to local businesses and operating a functioning ropery.

My main role was to help them carry out an extensive library audit by digitising record forms which other volunteers has produced. Many of the forms were incomplete, or contained superfluous information, and I needed to not only type them up but also edit them. This required great attention to detail, and some research was necessary to fill in the blanks and make the appropriate edits.

I also handled a selection of archival items, such as cannonballs, swords, and ropes. This was a wonderful opportunity to get hands on experience with primary sources, and to learn about the work that goes into preserving these items. An examination of the museum’s different exhibitions and galleries followed this. As a former teaching assistant, I thought it was very interesting to see what they chose to present to the public, and which contextual information they had chosen to accompany it. This gave me a useful insight into the link between the research and preservation work that is carried out behind the scenes, and the museum’s public face.

Furthermore, examining the three warships currently preserved on-site at the Dockyard was a unique opportunity to learn more about daily life aboard a sailing vessel, something which provides important context to my ongoing studies in Maritime history.

This work experience has given me a useful insight into the nature of archival work, and work in the heritage sector. Seeing how the Historic Dockyard operates, and the different ways it raises funds, has massively improved my understanding of the challenges facing such organisations, and of the nature of work in the Heritage sector.

– Stewart Murphy is a recent University of Kent History graduate.

What your hobbies and interests tell employers about you

When you’re putting together your graduate CV, your hobbies and interests section may seem fairly insignificant, right? Think again.

What you write about in this section can tell a prospective employer a lot more about you than you might think. Often, hobbies and interests suggest a lot about your personality, qualities, what you can offer an employer and what you might be like in the workplace.

The hobbies and interests section of your CV is even more important if you don’t have a lot of work experience (which is not uncommon for graduates). This is because employers are more likely to use it to build a better picture of you and your skills.

As a result, it’s important that you use your hobbies to showcase who you are and what attributes you have. Generally speaking, here’s what employers think about your hobbies and interests.

Travel

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It’s not uncommon for graduates to spend a few months or a gap year travelling, either before or after university. But what do employers think of grads who travel?

The good news is that most employers like to see a well-travelled graduate. This is because travelling usually helps you to develop key skills and character traits that are transferable to the workplace. These include independence, being adaptable and great communication skills.

If you have been travelling, it’s definitely worth talking about it concisely on your CV and mentioning the skills and qualities that it has helped you to develop. Globe-trotting grads tend to be perceived as open-minded, curious and resilient which are all great things to bring into a workplace.

Sport

Playing sport shows employers that you have some fantastic qualities that may include being:

  • Driven
  • Competitive
  • Motivated
  • A team player (depending on the sport)
  • Dedicated
  • Passionate

So many job roles and companies value these qualities so you would be silly not to mention your sporting achievements on your CV.

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Charity Work/Volunteering

From helping to build schools in Africa to walking dogs at your local animal shelter, many graduates have gotten involved in volunteering opportunities. Obviously volunteering is a fantastic thing for communities but it can also help your job application stand out.

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Call the law and hold the applause

The University of Kent Work Experience Bursary gave me the chance to join my colleagues and a couple of great lecturers on a tour of the UK Supreme Court in London on Wednesday, 1st March 2017. In the Media and Free Expression module, which I’ve been taking at the Centre for Journalism, we’ve gone through different aspects of the workings and mechanisms of justice system in the United Kingdom. Arguably, it’s one of the most progressive, objective and comprehensive legal systems in the world, which more often than not makes serious attempts to ensure no citizen is discriminated against on the basis of their faith, national or racial belongings, sexual orientation or political views. On higher levels, to protect the public interest, it deals with broader national and international cases with as much care and caution as possible.

I’ve tried to review different legal structures, including that of the United States, and also that of countries, which follow the Civil Law system, as opposed to Common Law. That’s what makes me enthusiastic about the legal arrangements in the UK. The Supreme Court’s staff have been exceptionally welcoming, articulate and friendly and elaborated on the different sides of the structure of legal and judicial system to us on this visit. Without this visit organised by the Centre for Journalism, which happened thanks to efforts by our media law lecturer, Mr David Acheson, it would have been almost impossible for me to acquire this close understanding of how the Supreme Court functions, and especially how it works closely with young journalists and international students.

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Top 5 Benefits of Starting Your Career at a Smaller Company

Over the past few years there’s been a noticeable shift in the type of jobs that graduates apply for after leaving university – over 50% now say they would like to work for a startup or SME (small and medium-sized enterprise). Working for a smaller company can be a great way to kick-start your career; startups and SMEs can offer first jobbers opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available at a corporate. Here at TalentPool, we’ve rounded up the top 5 benefits of working for a smaller company to help you decide whether it’s the right decision for you.

The ability to have a true impact on the business

You can really see the impact and value of the work you’re doing when you work for a smaller company. This is both exciting and incredibly rewarding. The fast-paced life of a smaller company means that things are changing all the time, and your ideas and hard work definitely won’t go unnoticed.

The opportunity to develop a wide range of skills

Working as part of a small team usually means that you’ll be involved in several different functions within the company where you’ll pick up a whole new set of skills as you’ll really be expected to get stuck in and contribute. You’ll receive a huge education about how a business truly operates, which is harder to grasp when working in a single department of a larger company.

The chance to work closely with entrepreneurs

Particularly at a startup, you’ll most likely be sitting across or even right next to the founders of the business. This gives you a unique opportunity to soak up all their knowledge and experience. This kind of exposure is especially valuable if you think you might like to start your own business one day.

The high levels of responsibility you’ll be given

From the word go, you’ll be given levels of responsibility which you simply wouldn’t have at a corporate. Working in a small team means that there’ll probably be nobody else in the company with the same skill set as you or doing the same thing as you. With little time for micromanaging, you’ll really be expected to take your own initiative!

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