This is me

This post is for everyone who might be finding looking for a job amidst the pandemic even more painful, demotivating and soul destroying than it normally is.

Rejection after rejection can make you question yourself, your abilities, your self worth and that’s when you need to remind yourself of all your achievements and what you’ve done so far. I’m quite confident myself especially when it comes to my professional experience and knowledge and I still doubt myself when I can’t find a job. So…

This is me

I speak English and Greek fluently, I guess you can say I’m bilingual as after 11 years speaking mostly in English has caused my brain to think in English first. I also speak a bit of Italian and Spanish.

I have a LOT of qualifications (BA in Psychology, MSc Research Methods in Psychology, Qualification in Occupational Psychology, Occupational Testing, PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner, Online marketing fundamentals, CELTA) and during my 12 year work experience so far I accumulated a number of skills and knowledge in varied areas e.g. data analysis, reporting, event planning, research, promotional campaigns, teaching English etc.

I also volunteered for charities and in my free time I write (on this very blog as well as my travel blog I recently started kopiastekopiaste.wordpress.com), I love photography, making videos and I know a bit about digital marketing.

It helps to remind myself how far I’ve come and noone and nothing can take away my skills, knowledge and achievements from me. Comparing myself to others can only make me feel worse, we don’t all have the same opportunities, financial support and flexibility. I did the best I could with what I had and I continue to do so.

I’d also like to think that the right job will come at the right time and everything will just work out. Whatever I end up doing next, it might not be what I’m looking for, but I’m sure I’ll learn from it as much as possible. I may have to wait a little longer than I thought though and that’s OK.

I’m still the same capable, confident, knowledgeable individual.

If anyone’s interested in hiring me I can conduct research, occupational testing, create content, write articles, translate, manage social media accounts, teach English and above all help others. I’d love to work for the UN one day!

If this post helps even one person who’s in a similar position, I’ll be over the moon. Feel free to share your ‘This is me’ story, I’d love to watch it.

I made a video with the longer version of the blog. If you make a video too, tag me in so I can watch and share ūüôā

Stay safe and well, wear your mask and remember, it’s okay not to be okay.

Namaste

Eleni

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The most ridiculous job interview I ever had.

A hot (45 degrees Celsious), September, Thursday afternoon somewhere in Nicosia, Cyprus.

I’m at the offices of a huge commercial organisation to have an interview for their digital sales executive position, a job I didn’t apply for. But I’m here so I can get some experience in job interviews in Cyprus, speaking in Greek. I never had a job interview in Greek for a professional role and I’m feeling a bit nervous.

How did I end up here?

I had applied for a simple office admin job at a radio station which is part of the same organisation but that position had been filled and the woman I sent my application to gave me a call to inform me that though they had already hired someone for that job, she forwarded my CV to another department for a position they had available. A day later I received a call from another lady to set up an interview. She just told me the title of the job I’d be interviewing for, Digital Sales Executive, and we arranged date and time.

I knew nothing else. She didn’t give me any details and there was no job description on their website, only a couple of lines and by looking at those, I wasn’t sure why I was invited for an interview. Here’s the translated ad (and the original ad underneath it):

The x organisation are looking for a full-time digital sales executive, someone with a pleasant personality and a degree in Marketing, Communication, Mass Media, PR or other relevant fields (I do have a pleasant personality, if I say so myself, no idea how they would know that though, but I have no degree in any of those fields, only a Google digital marketing certificate anyone could obtain online).

Experience required in:

Back Office (organisation)

Digital Marketing

Sales

(I have no experience in any. I worked in an office in the UK but I’m not quite sure what back office entails.)

After a 20 minute wait (I had a chat about anything and everything with the receptionist, she was really sweet), I met my interviewer, a 34 year old man, who by the end of the interview I’m not sure if I was angry with or felt sorry for.

So why was the most ridiculous interview ever? Well, maybe it wouldn’t be if you lived in Cyprus I guess, but for someone who only had interviews in the UK, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

  1. Too many and too personal questions. Not only I was asked how I old I was, whether I was married/single/had children but also WHY I was single. Why would an employer should know why I’m not seeing anyone? I politely explained to him that I had no need to be with someone to be happy, I was happy on my own. I wish I had told him that it was none of his business instead.
  2. He clearly had not read my CV. He wasn’t aware of most of the information that was on my resume. He had no idea I spent last year in Italy teaching English or that I worked as a data analyst for years, or that I had a range of different qualifications, or even that I had a digital marketing certificate, the only relevant diploma to that job. These are just some examples of his ignorance.
  3. ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ Emm, hopefully not dead from Coronavirus, I should have said. I think this question is pointless anyway, but it’s usually ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ not 10 years. After he saw the shock on my face and me explicitly expressing it as the first words I managed to utter was ’10 years??? I honestly have no idea’, he followed up with ‘What about 5 years?’. I couldn’t but just be honest. ‘I’m honestly not sure, I just came back to Cyprus and I’m exploring my options, who knows where I’ll be in 5 years’. I couldn’t lie and pretend I imagined myself as a Digital Sales Executive, a job I only knew very few things about I found out myself through Google and during the interview.
  4. Arrogance. I’m all up for being confident and loving myself, I’m a huge advocate of that but I detest arrogance and boasting. Any opportunity he had, he demonstrated how amazing he was at his job, how he interviewed over 300 candidates just to find the right one (how on earth he found time to interview 300 people I have no idea, I suspect he might have exaggerated). He also claimed after I told him I’d be honest with him and was not really sure what I’d like to do next that he’d knew if I lied. He is THAT good, he can detect lies (ironically it seems I spotted his lies instead). When I asked him what the benefits of the job was, he just narrated his work history and of course how he was so talented at everything, that’s where he ended up where he is now.
  5. Pointless questions. ‘What salary would you be happy with ?’ I replied with asking the average salary for a digital sales executive, but apparently there isn’t one, maybe I should have asked for 2 grand a month. ‘Persuade me, do some sales, sell yourself, why should I hire you?’ How can I sell something I know little about, how can I try to convince someone who came across so arrogant and unprofessional to hire me for a job I didn’t apply for? I can’t really remember what I answered, I was just thinking how ridiculous the whole interview was and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

From what I understood he was going to ask me for a second interview but he wasn’t sure I really wanted to be a Digital Sales Executive and I’d stay in that job for long. The truth is I didn’t know whether I wanted to be one, but I knew if I worked for this man, we would argue all the time. I have 11 year long work experience. I’m a responsible professional adult. I wasn’t treated like one at the interview and I doubt I would have been if I had been hired.

I received no follow up phone call. It seems that they don’t let you know if you were successful after an interview in Cyprus. It happened on one more occasion since this interview. I personally find it incredibly rude, as in any other job I went for an interview I was notified either by phone or email of the outcome.

So here it is. That’s the most ridiculous job interview I ever had. I had a couple of interviews since and they were OK, with no awkwardness and silly questions, which reassured me that interviews like that won’t happen that often (I hope).

Did you have any similar experience? Any inappropriate or irrelevant questions you were asked, you’d like to share? I’d love to hear.

Eleni

A refresh on Occupational Testing

About three years ago, after I passed my British Psychological Society (BPS) Occupational Psychology qualification exams, I naively thought I’d somehow manage to get a job as an Occupational Psychologist trainee (very few and rare opportunities in Southampton and at the time I so desperately tried to save my already failing relationship I rarely looked for jobs outside the city) so to increase my chances I decided to take the now called Assistant Test User and Test¬† User qualifications which would enable me to administer and interpret Ability and Personality/Motivation tests in an Occupational setting.

I found a consultancy in Brighton, KCP that offered a distance learning option (there were no local consultancies offering this which still baffles me) and they were recognised by the BPS and to cut a long story short after a month, some people take longer but I didn’t want to drag it out, I completed and got both qualifications. I was over the moon as I got great feedback from my trainers Andy and Cathy especially when I went through the Occupational Personality results with my two volunteers.¬† That was a little confidence boost that I needed more than I knew at the time.

Fast forward to today. My priorities changed, my life changed and unfortunately I haven’t yet given the chance to put my qualifications to good use. But every year around September I have to decide whether to pay to keep my name on the Register of Qualifications in Test Use (RQTU) and every time after contemplating for a month or so, I do. I guess I still hope one day I may get to do something with it.¬†

This year I decided to go a step further and refresh my knowledge and skills on Personality and Motivation/ Ability Occupational Testing so I posted on LinkedIn for recommendations of any free but high on reliability and validity tests I can administer to a couple of friends and then feed back the results to them. It’s not easy to find a good, robust, reliable, especially personality and motivation questionnaire that is readily available for free. Most of the free resources are generic and their validity and/or reliability is quite low.

Luckily my trainer Andy saw my post and as the sweet, lovely human he is he offered me a free MAPP questionnaire (the online version) the test I used for my qualification. I actually asked for a second one to administer to another friend with completely different ways of working compared to the first friend who filled it in, just to see how different the results and the feedback session may end up to be, and Cathy and Andy  agreed. 

I was at the time inspired by the Help me book I had recently read. For one of the self-help books, Marianne the author and protagonist, had to attempt to get rejected as much as possible and notion behind it was¬† to get used to the vulnerability and embarrassment which may come with rejection and that¬† it is actually not as scary as you thought it may be. So I thought I’d ask, I had nothing to lose and what was the worst it could happen? I wish I followed my own advice more often.

MAPP (Managerial and Professional Profiler) is a personality and motivation questionnaire designed specifically for professionals. It’s a great test as it measures a wide range of personality dimensions clustered in three broader categories, People, Task and Feelings and also motivational and values dimensions and what makes it even greater is that the results are compared to a large group of professionals/managers, which contributes to its validity and reliability. If you’d like to know more, you can find all details here.

MAPP can be used for assessment, as a part of the recruitment process but also for development. And that’s how I chose to use it for my two lovely friends who completed it.¬†

What I love most about giving feedback on any test but particularly MAPP is interpreting the results with the ‘assessees’, exploring how self-aware they are of their own work preferences, leadership style, how they work in a team, on a task and my favourite part, making associations between their work style to their motivation and values and discussing these with them. For example both of my friends seem to enjoy working with others than competing and they care about the well-being of their team, which makes perfect sense as they highly value altruism.¬†

I can go further deeper on the many, many connections between personality traits, values and motivation using examples but this post will end up more like a book instead.

Both my friends enjoyed their feedback sessions and they both gave me great feedback, similar to Andy and Cathy’s a couple of years ago. Which made me really happy. I was concerned they may treat this as a right/wrong exercise, but of course it isn’t. There’s no right or wrong when it¬† comes to personality and motivation and values. But it all went well.

They found it useful and quite interesting. And it is. It makes you think and consider things you may haven’t thought about before.¬†

Before anyone else suggests it, as I have been asked before, I tried my workplace’s HR but no luck. Sometimes, after multiple rejections, although of course I know I shouldn’t take it personally and keep trying, one cannot but feel demoralised and question their own abilities. That’s why feedback is incredibly important.¬†

I have tried to offer this as a freelance service but as I work full-time in a completely different job, I don’t have the time or resources to promote it. 

If anyone would like to take MAPP or any other questionnaire and would like me to give them some feedback, you can purchase the test from Andy and I’d more than happy to do that for you. 

Special thanks to Andy and Cathy for offering me the test for free and my lovely friends Sophie and Chris who completed it for me.

Eleni

You are very much on time

Today I’m not reflecting back on last week.

I weirdly can’t remember much of it. It’s all a blur.¬† I remember walking home after my hairdresser’s appointment on Monday evening, only to find out the next day that a girl was raped at the very same park I walked through, roughly at the same time I passed by.

I didn’t hear a thing. It was only 6:30pm in the evening. It shouldn’t be dangerous walking through a park with so many people around early in the evening.

I no longer walk through the park at night, most days. Some days I’m angry that women in this day and age are advised not to walk through a park in the afternoon, just to be on the safe side, so I walk through it and I’m ready to fight whoever tries to even touch me.

I remember Mike’s birthday lunch and the fire at Waterstone’s whilst we were at Turtle Bay. How sad to see all the books, all the beautiful books with amazing stories on their pages, all the philosophy, science, literature, fiction books that open up our minds and teach us valuable lessons burnt.

Waterstones

And I remember having delicious pies for lunch on Thursday. This is it. The rest is nonsensical in my brain.

What I vividly remember is waking up one day during the week in tears. I was terrified, panicking. Panicking this year is going so fast, too fast. I cannot believe it’s already March.

I went through a whirlwind of emotions, thoughts. I’ve been contemplating about life a lot this week.

‘Am I good enough?’

‘What should I do next?’

‘What do I really want to do next?’

‘What if I die right now?’

‘What have I achieved in my life so far?’

‘I am running out of time. I’m almost 32, what should I do?’

Excruciatingly painful questions with no simple answers.

And then I remembered. I remembered a video my lovely Lou sent me.

A simple, minute and a half long video going through examples on how people achieve different things at different times. One might have become a CEO when they were 22 and then died a year later whereas someone else became a CEO when they were 50 and lived until their 90. Just an example to show that we all work on our own time zones, some might seem ahead and some might seem behind you, we shouldn’t mock them or envy them. Because we are all running our own race, in our own time, our own time zone.

So simple, yet so powerful. I’m in my own time zone, as you are in yours.

It’s incredibly tough to not compare yourself to others. Society norms dictate and often measure your success on others. But that’s not the case.

I recently finished reading one of the best books I’ve ever read and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman.

I’ve learned a lot from this one book, from the neuroscience behind it to what Emotional Intelligence is to how developing it can benefit yourself, others, the society, the world, but I won’t go into much detail, one must read it to get the full picture.

Emotional Intelligence, recognising your own emotions and managing them effectively, motivating yourself, recognising emotions in others and handling relationships is what can make or break you. Emotional Intelligence in contrast to the highly regarded by many IQ can be cultivated and improved at any age. And it should. It’s vital and essential. It all starts from a very young age. The way your parents raise you up even since you are a toddler affects your whole life but you have the power to change it. It should be taught at school, it should be taught from a young age.

Why? Because when we finally become adults we can cope better in life. We learned how to be good, loving caring humans. We are aware when and why we are happy, upset, angry.¬† We recognise how others behaviours affect us and how to change that, we know how to treat people truly respectfully without letting prejudices affect us. We are more resilient to social pressure and all of the social rules dictating our lives. We won’t feel the need to measure our success by comparing our lives to others, because we have the emotional intelligence to recognise that’s just emotions and feelings imposed by others.¬†

What is success anyway? Money, fame, reaching the top of your career ladder?

No, not really. Many have done that and if you ask them years later they all say the same thing. They’d rather have spent more time doing things they love, with the people they love, making memories.

Of course it’s important to love what you do. And I respect people who love their work. But work is not everything and it shouldn’t define us. And not all of us are lucky to be doing what we love for a living.

In one of the first Derren Brown books I read, Derren whilst explaining how he memorises and recalls people’s names, mentions that when he meets people he never asks them what most would ask, what they do for a living, because some might hate their job and what they do doesn’t define who they are, but he instead asks them what they do in their spare time, what their hobbies are, what they love doing, and then associates their name with some of their favourite things. What a great way to remember people’s names!

I’ve met many ‘successful’ people in my life. Most could only talk about their job and their career, understandably because they love it but they couldn’t discuss about anything else. They rarely read any book, they rarely had time, or made time, to go on a holiday or explore another culture, they haven’t listened to music or went to the theatre for months. They couldn’t remember the last time they’ve seen a film, they had no knowledge or experience in anything else other than their work.

If that’s success, then I do not want it.

What I loved about my lunch with Charlie yesterday is that we could chat about films, life, society, Higher Education, music to travelling and life. Because we both love learning, trying new things and our life doesn’t revolve around work. What we do for a living does not define us and it shouldn’t.

What the world needs is more well-rounded people like Charlie. Well-rounded, emotionally intelligent, loving, caring humans.¬† People who have what the Japanese called Ikigai, ‘a reason for being’.

Some of them might have reached success in the conventional sense, some might not. But it doesn’t matter.

I don’t know if anyone in years to come would even remember who I was, I don’t know if I leave a big mark on this crazy world, but we all leave our mark, big or small.

What I’ll leave for others is what I learned from my life through my blog, I’ll leave thousands of photos of delicious food and beautiful places and stories of amazing humans.

The feature image I used for this post today is an example of what I’ll leave for others. A gorgeous moment I captured whilst walking to work. I stopped walking for a second because I wanted to take in the beauty of this world. The sun coming out of the clouds, shining gloriously, brightening the beautiful park. Every time I stare at the sun I think of all my friends and family who live far away but at that moment standing there, the same sun is shining where they are. At that moment they don’t feel that far.

We are on our own time zones, literally and metaphorically but we are part of each other’s life, we are part of each other’s time line, in the most beautiful way. Because we love and care about each other. And I smile.¬†

It’s all about the little things, it’s all about enjoying every single moment, trying new things and for me right now, doing more things I want to but I’m scared of. And everything will fall into place. Just like that.

There is no better way to end this post with a poignant quote by my favourite lady, Leslie Knope.

‚ÄĒkflagrega

Namaste

Eleni

Why I #loveSolent

For me, Solent is all about the people.

Six years ago, on a rainy November morning, I woke up terrified. My alarm didn’t go off and I was going to be late for my interview. It was the first role I got an interview for that I really really wanted.

I got ready as fast as I could, I didn’t have any coffee, I didn’t even have time to do my hair and had to fashion a quick high bun. By the time I arrived at the reception, the same reception I pass by every day for the last six years, all the worries and stress I had for a week were just gone and I walked in with a ‘nothing else can go wrong now, f**k it’ attitude.

That was the first time I’ve met my then boss and now an amazing friend Chris (who yesterday put together my TV stand as my DIY skills are laughable, nicest man I know) and Caroline, our lovely manager.

In the four years I worked in the Research and Information Unit I’ve learned a lot, I’ve¬†grown and I felt loved and appreciated. Most significantly I made friends for life.

I met my bestie, the most amazing person I’ve ever known Sheba, my Jaba, who gives the best hugs in the world and Mark, Jamie, Sally, Helen, Lou, Emma and all the choir people and of course one of my favourite humans, our choir leader Dan.

About two years ago I left Solent to try something different. I was bored of doing the same thing for four years and I was desperate for a change. I’m not gonna go through everything in detail but after three months I quit, the following day I flew home to say my goodbyes to my dying aunt but I was 10 minutes late¬†and the day I came back home, in Southampton, my boyfriend broke up with me.

I was a mess. Absolutely and utterly devastated. The worst part was that I didn’t have a job. I temped for a while but the money wasn’t enough. Until a job came up at Solent, a fixed term, well paid job I could actually do, so I didn’t have to start from scratch, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it with everything else that was going on in my life that period. I had hit rock bottom, the lowest I’ve ever been.

When I walked through the doors again after four months it immediately felt like home.

I’ll be eternally grateful to my colleagues and especially my manager Suzanne for the support and the love I felt the first couple of months in particular, when I was in such a bad state I’d burst into crying at my desk. She has been more than just a boss to me, even though she won’t admit it!

The last two years have been incredible. I ‘ve made great friends,my favourite Northerner mamma Donna, Miss Holiday and ray of sunshine Linda, my brother Andi, Suzanne and Matt, Sati, Andy, Mike, Syed, Sarah, Denise (love you Denise!), Jo, Lorna, Alex, Rob, Osama and many many others, it will take a whole post to list everyone.

Some of my most precious memories were made at Solent or with Solent people.

The best bunch of people I’ve ever met. A great big family who care for each other. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.

And not just at personal level. Not many realise how important work support staff do. There is this notion that Universities are all about teaching. Of course it is important but teaching alone is not enough.

We get frustrated and disappointed from time to time but we do our best for the University because we really care. We keep the systems going, we make sure the students have their timetable on time, we offer the best support we can when it comes to Finance, assessments, IT, personal problems and the list goes on.

Over the last six years I watched the University grow, our new building the Spark being built and now in full use, I spent many lunch breaks enjoying the delicious food at the Deli and the Dock, I’ve seen films for ¬£4 thanks to Sonar film, I helped with graduation, I volunteered for the Open day, I worked overtime at weekends, I had a laugh with my team of students calling graduates in the evenings, I danced until my feet hurt at the legendary Staff Scene Christmas parties and until this day, even at the worst of times we have a laugh every single day.

I may leave Solent at some point but it will always feel like home.

And this is why I #loveSolent.

Namaste

Eleni

Is there really skills shortage?

I’ve just been reading a post on Insider Media on the expected growth of South East Businesses over the next year which is great news for Southampton.

But the same survey run by Hays has also showed that 81% of the 2,442 South East employers and employees who took part are being challenged by skills shortages.

But is it really skills shortage?

Let’s take myself for example.

I have numerous qualifications: BA (Hons) Psychology, MSc Research Methods in Psychology, Occupational Testing Personality and Ability, BPS Qualification in Occupational Psychology (equivalent to MSc) and PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner, although I haven’t utilised much of my knowledge and skills gained from them in my career so far.

Through my work experience, mainly as a Research and Data Analysis Officer and Senior Compliance Officer at Solent I gained a long list of useful, transferable skills.

I’ve interviewed students for temporary work, I worked with them giving out flyers and goodies, I’ve taken part in marketing campaigns promoting student surveys and all the good work happening across the University from coming up with ideas for marketing material and incentives, designing leaflets to updating the relevant webpages.

I ran cognitive interviews and focus groups with students and academics, exploring issues around student satisfaction, I managed the annual graduate phone survey (from the very start, recruiting and managing a group of student phone researchers to analysing and presenting the results) for years and produced endless reports on graduate recruitment, student satisfaction, staff satisfaction and many more for staff, from academics to Senior Managers.

I organised events at the Uni mainly for staff, from sending invites, organising catering, putting together material to give out to presenting to them and asking for feedback afterwards.

I learn incredibly fast, let it be new processes, procedures, systems. Don’t get me started on software, from SPSS to Contensis to Quercus.

I have a more than the average person knowledge on various different areas, Social Media, marketing, mental health, event management and advertising because I just love learning about them.

I’m aware about most of the events happening in Southampton, often before others find out because I love finding out about and trying new things and getting involved with the community. That’s how I met Bene and tried hot yoga, I discovered Women Who Do, I spent an awesome day volunteering for Southampton Pride and took part in Summer in the Square¬†in the last couple of months.

One of my great loves is food. I love trying new things and I love good food. And of course I love talking about it. One of my favourite conversations recently was with the Director of Finance about herbs and spices!

Often others come to me for restaurant and coffee places recommendations in town or even where to get the best food at the University.

I love music and yoga as anyone who follows me on Social Media knows and I feel so happy every time people tell me they loved a song I shared or they tried yoga because they read my posts!

Most importantly, my most precious, invaluable skills cannot be obtained through work because they come from the person I am, from my personality.

I’m a social person. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything. I love talking to people. One of my favourite posts is the one about my afternoon at a Turkish barbers in town, chatting to the owner about Cypriot and Turkish cuisine and culture.

Throughout the years I’ve developed great relationships with students, course leaders, managers, Directors, cleaners, shop assistants, colleagues I don’t work with from other departments and made friends with people I met through volunteering and going to events I find interesting.

I’m incredibly creative. I come up with random ideas about almost anything, food, decoration, events, fundraising (like our Snowdonia Climb)posts (my blog is a great example!).

And I love helping out, that why I volunteer when I can, from the Graduation,¬† and¬†Open Day to the Half Marathon and Southampton Pride. And through helping out I’m making friends from all walks of life along the way. I’m currently helping a fellow Cypriot with her move to Southampton, checking out flats for her. And I love it.

I can go on and on.

I work as a Senior Compliance Officer, which is a standard, boring, 9 to 5 job, most of the time in front of a PC staring at spreadsheets. I love the people but not what I do.

It is incredibly difficult to change careers and move to a job I can actually put in use most of my skills and knowledge.

Why? Because I don’t have ‘relevant extensive experience’ in marketing/events management/advertising/PR/Mental Health, I lack the ‘skills’ necessary, I’m one of those on the ‘skills shortage’ side.

I will have to start from scratch, on an entry level position which of course I don’t mind but I can’t afford it financially. My plan is to save over the next year and take the plunge. Unless I’m given the chance by one of the employers I apply for work, highly unlikely.

So, my advice to employers:

Look beyond someone’s work experience and work related skills. Unless is a very technical job, most skills can be easily and quickly taught if you recruit the right person, the person who might not necessarily have all relevant work skills but the one who will be the best fit in your team and is keen to learn.

My biggest, most desired goal for 2018 is to finally move to a job I can enjoy and will give me the opportunity to utilise my skills and make a difference, whatever and wherever that might be.

I’ve been reading about Emotional Intelligence lately and years worth of research suggests that empathy, optimism, hope and enjoyment in what you do is a significantly better prediction of success than IQ (I can’t recommend Daniel Goleman’s book and work highly enough).

I’m confident on my abilities, I believe in myself and I’m optimistic about the future.¬† No matter how many rejections I may face (I didn’t get an interview for the job I recently applied to in case you were wondering) I know for a fact that whoever believes in me and gives me a chance even if I’m not the ‘right person’ on paper, they will not regret it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep learning and use my dead-end job survival techniques to keep me going.

Eleni

 

 

 

My first Solent Open Day

Most of you spent the precious extra hour yesterday in bed.

I didn’t. But it was totally and utterly worth it.

A couple of weeks ago our External Relations department asked for any volunteers to work on Open Days the University runs for prospective students.

I love volunteering for events across the Uni, I learn so much and I enjoy doing something different as you know by now, so I signed up.

I didn’t realise I had to be at the University at 7:15am on a Sunday!

Early mornings is not my strongest point so I’m glad I had that extra hour. The morning walk was amazing. It was very quiet, I could only hear the birds and a car or two every now and then. There’s something special being awake, out and about when most people are still in bed.

I arrived at the Uni on time and the lovely Rebecca who plans and runs the Open Days at the University briefed us on what our duties would be on the day.

After a quick check of the teaching rooms and a warm, delicious coffee and a chocolate cookie we were ready to welcome our future students and their family and friends.

I was placed at the Atrium, where all the information stands were set, where all the action happens and I spent most of the day doing something I really love, chatting to people. I chatted to prospective students and their guests directing them where they wanted to go, answering any questions I could and of course talking to them about our impressive new building, the Spark.

Everyone was in awe of the Pod!

The Pod
The Pod

What I enjoyed the most was chatting to our Student Ambassadors. As most of support staff working at Universities, especially in my most recent position at Solent, I don’t get to talk to students as often (or work with them as I used to), the ones who we really work for, to make their experience the best it can get. I think all staff should spend time with students, it’s an eye opener.

I loved hearing them talk about their course, how much they enjoy and love it, what they want to do next, their dreams about the future, unspoiled and untouched by the harsh reality of being an adult. And I loved sharing what I learnt from my life so far and advising them to be bold and fearless, follow their dreams NOW and not wait for anything.

Nicola, who did an amazing job as a team leader on the day, studies Acoustic Engineering and she told me all about her amazing dissertation proposal. Unfortunately I can’t share it in case someone reads this and steals her idea.

Deana is studying Criminology, which she absolutely loves and she wants to move to London after her studies. I loved my time with Deana, we talked about food, TV shows and movies (Stranger Things was mentioned a lot!), her life as a student and her struggles. At that moment I realised how similar student life is to single adult life (or maybe how similar is my life to student life…) but also how much I learned and changed since I left Uni.

Maria is studying Fine Art and she is moving to Portsmouth to work at the Historic Dockyard after she finishes her studies!

I also got the chance to talk to Greek and Cypriot students. Oh I loved it so much. Talking in my mother language to young Greeks. I felt like their eldest sister, giving them advice and listening to their dreams and aspirations. It made me miss home but it also felt like home.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to some of our academics and course leaders and learn about the amazing work they do. Baxter the robot impressed everyone who interacted with it!

Baxter
Baxter

I’d describe the whole experience as a big party, a celebration of our University. Academics, support staff, students, future students all together in our beautiful teaching space.

I’m still tired and my legs hurt but I’d do it every day if I could. I’d advise any University staff to volunteer to help with Open Days. You’ll learn more than you expect about the University, our staff and students. And you’ll spend a day with lovely colleagues.

Thank you to Rebecca who let me be part of this.

Eleni

Women who do

I love social media for various reasons but mainly because I discover new things locally and I meet awesome, interesting people from all walks of life.

About a week ago ¬†I came across a post on Twitter from Docks Cafe on Oxford street in Southampton, a cute, little cafe which I haven’t been before but I really wanted to for a while as I follow them on social media because of the amazing cake photos they post every day.

They were promoting a breakfast and networking event at the cafe organised by Women Who Do (check them out) a network of professional women run by the lovely Emma Downey.

I signed up for it almost immediately. I thought it will be the perfect opportunity to meet and learn from inspiring ladies and a great chance to visit Docks Cafe. Networking over coffee and breakfast, it can’t get better than that.

Yesterday I found out the lady running the hot Yoga classes I’ve been meaning to try for a while and who I follow on social media because of all her amazing yoga related posts was going too.

So today, I woke up bright and early, excited for the event.

And it did not disappoint.

Docks cafe was incredible. Great coffee, fresh pastries-loved my pan au chocolat- lovely decoration and friendly staff. I definitely recommend it especially if you have a sweet tooth like I do (just look at their Insta!).

Every single person I met was lovely and had interesting stories to share. A couple of examples:

Charlotte is an environmental writer who recently moved to Southampton and taught me how gardening can benefit people with depression and anxiety not only because they get to spend time outdoors and do something physical but also because soil can increase serotonin, nature’s anti-depressant. Southampton Council is actually funding a project promoting gardening for vulnerable individuals who might benefit from this. Isn’t that amazing? She regularly posts on her personal blog if you want to find out more about this lovely gal.

Maria works full-time at a tobacco company but also loves anything local and posts often about events and things happening across the city. Check her Insta for everything Southampton related.

Benedita, who is originally from Portugal and moved to Southampton from London, quit her day job and started her own business, teaching hot Yoga. She is the brain behind In Balance Hot Yoga. Needless to say how much I look forward to go to one of her classes.

Emma recently moved to Southampton and is a freelance marketing consultant working with companies across the country. One of my dream jobs!

Naturally we ended up talking about food. I don’t think a day passes by without me talking about food. We are planning to start a supper club, trying different restaurants and food across Southampton!

 

I can’t wait to get to know them all better. I left the cafe happy, excited and grateful I got to meet amazing, inspiring women.

What a great initiative, thank you Emma for organising this. If you fancy meeting these ladies, join us at the next meeting!

What a lovely way to start the day.

Eleni

My Lynda.com experience

My God it’s been a long week.

But the weekend is almost upon us!

One of the things I’ll be doing this weekend, since I have shockingly little pocket money to spend in August (but I did get my Christmas ticket home, so I’d rather starve, totally worth it), is educating myself on Lynda.com¬†

I first heard of Lynda.com a couple of years ago through work as the University subscribed to it and all staff could use it for free. (if your employer/university does not offer free access to Lynda, you can have a free month trial and then pay a monthly or annual fee).

Lynda.com is an American online education company owned by LinkedIn and it’s been running since 1995.

I have to say I wasn’t that impressed back then as there was not much on what I was interested in. From what I can remember there were some courses on Photoshop, Photography, some generic managerial skills tutorials etc and basic Excel training type of courses.

I was recently browsing on Groupon’s training/online courses section but since I ran out of money I thought I’d give Lynda.com another go.

I was blown away by the sheer quantity and range of courses on offer from music writing, drawing, WordPress, advertising, singing, to more technical ones such as civil engineering and programming.

Courses can be filtered by authors, software used, subject, companies, duration, type but most importantly skill level. So is perfect for total beginners who want to learn a new skill or professionals who want to improve their existing knowledge or skills.

The course duration varies but most are between 3-5 hours. Each course consists of chapters and each chapter is broken down to video lessons that are about 2-10 minutes long.

All courses are run by industry experts and include demonstrations, exercise files and plenty of examples.

Every video lesson comes with a full transcript and there is a notes section where you can add your notes at any point of the lesson and is saved along the relevant part of the video so you can go back and re-watch it if you wish.

You also have the option to watch the lessons offline if you are on the go.

There was so much choice I didn’t know what to do first but I decided to start the series of vocal training run by the late Jeannie Deva, a famous LA celebrity vocal coach.

I have no aspirations to become a professional singer but I love singing along with my guitar and I always wanted to improve my voice but face to face singing lessons are painfully expensive for me so I was very excited when I found out that Lynda.com now offered vocal coaching courses!

I’ve completed the first series of lessons on Warm Ups and Cool Downs and I’m now on the second series learning how to sing songs better.

I absolutely love this lady from the way she talks, the techniques she invented, her intelligence and intuition  to her sense of humour.

In her first couple of lessons she demonstrates how to massage your neck and face to relax your singing/talking muscles-very useful-,she goes through a number of exercises on the piano with you and she often brings singers in to demonstrate the right way of performing each exercise.

I’ve learnt A LOT from her already, even basic physiology.

Did you know that the largest part of our lungs is actually on our back and not the front??? So if you want to fully fill your lungs with air when breathing pay attention to the movement of your ribs not your tummy/diaphragm.

lungs

And of course the infamous lip trills/lip bubbles came up.

Throughout the lessons she encourages you to send her videos with your progress which I was excited to do but unfortunately she died about 2 years ago. I would have loved to meet her…

But her legacy lives on through her incredible work and some of her lessons are also available on Youtube if you are interested.

After I complete the vocal training courses, ¬†I’m starting a series of lessons on music theory, guitar playing (of course I can’t afford guitar lessons either!!) and also storytelling, that may be a great way to put my unlimited imagination to good use.

I’m well impressed with Lynda.com and I’m very happy I was given the opportunity to learn new skills for free through it.

LinkedIn you did well!

I’m super excited about my next post as it will all be about the 31 day Yoga Revolution programme I’m doing and the Yoga teacher running it, the incredibly funny and witty Adrienne.

Until next time!

Eleni

 

I got my Google Digital Garage certificate!

Thank God is Tuesday!

Monday was painful to begin with, one of my least favourite days of the week.  But the sunshine, Yoga, a bit of guitar playing, GoT (what an emotional roller coaster episode 3 was!) and bedtime reading made the day better.

Instead of one super long post on things currently occupying my free time, I thought I’d be better to break it down and write for one at a time.

I’ll start with the free online Digital Marketing course offered by Google.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking into short courses on Digital Marketing. I love the web and I always wanted to find out more on how search engines and online marketing work, the difference between SEO and SEM and all these magical things happening behind my screen…

But I’m on a low budget for the next year or so, so I can repay my loan and be free to move on and try different things without any money worries. The last 6 months haven’t been easy, I really miss my credit card but I know it’s for the best. To sum up, I can’t really afford to take any paid course right now.

Anyway back to the subject!

I found a couple of free online courses on digital marketing on Lynda.com but I didn’t get the chance to check them out yet because I came across Google Digital Garage-¬†https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage

I’ve never really heard of it before but I thought I’d give it a go, since I could get a Google certificate by the end of it. It’s for free afterall, so I had nothing to lose.

It consists of 23 topics, with each topic containing 2 to 7 video lessons.  There is a short test at the end of each lesson and a multiple choice assessment at the end of each topic to test your knowledge. Each topic you complete you get a badge and when you collect all 23, there is a final assessment you need to pass to get their certificate.

If you fail any of the tests, it allows you to try again until you get it right.

The topics cover a range of internet marketing branches from search campaigns, e-commerce, analytic tools, social media, video ads, to local and international customer targeting.

It starts with the very basics, so you might not learn much in the first couple of topics covered, but you’ll definitely learn more than you ‘d expect by the end of it.

Some of the lessons include professionals talking about their experience on how they built their online presence which for me were the most interesting part of the whole course.

The presenters talk clearly ¬†but I found that they sometimes talk slower than you’d expect and they use their hands A LOT and for me that felt so unnatural- it feels like they were told to do it but in their effort to do so they went over the top- it became a bit irritating at times. It might just be me, have a look a couple ¬†of the lessons below and let me know what you think.

 

 

You have the option to read the transcript rather than watch the videos if you prefer. I did that for some lessons, when the hand movements became overwhelming and I couldn’t focus and watch anymore.

You can watch all the videos on Youtube but if you wish to get the certificate you will need to watch them through the Google Digital Garage website, so you can complete all the assessments.

It took me about 2 weeks to go through all the topics and took the final assessment last Sunday. I’m happy I passed at the first go, it gave me a sense of achievement.

2017-08-01 17.21.37

There is a vast number of free online courses and I think this is one of the most decent ones. I think is a great Google initiative.

Google Digital Garage also runs training sessions and 1-to-1 mentoring (unfortunately not in Southampton). https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage/f2f#/Training%20sessions  and have a physical store in Sheffield where anyone can pop in for free face to face coaching.

If you just started your business, freelancing, struggling with getting traffic and/or converting it to customers or if you just fancy learning more about digital marketing I definitely recommend it.

Next post on Lynda.com

Have a lovely Tuesday afternoon.

Eleni