the-graduate

On Becoming a Bachelor

September 2012.

I’d been made redundant several months previously and was at a bit of a crossroads as to what I wanted to do with myself.  Him Indoors had recently graduated with a BEng with a view to starting a second career as a web developer and Mini Binnie was doing well as an infant at primary school.  My husband suggested I get myself back to university after dropping out of my journalism course several years previously, but this time I should choose a subject for myself, something I knew I would enjoy as opposed to being ‘encouraged’ into journalism previously.  So I took at look at a prospectus, chose a course and applied.

October 2016 and I’m standing outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, having graduated with a BEng (Distinction) in Computer Systems and Networks from Edinburgh Napier University.  Hurray!

graduation

Silly hood wouldn’t stay down, but I don’t care; lookit the shiny!

I’m still on a high from the graduation ceremony.  What a wonderful feeling it was to be the centre of attention (well, myself and several hundred other graduates) and I couldn’t help but beam as I walked across the stage to shake the Chancellor’s hand and collect my certificate.  Regular readers will know that I faced a huge dilemma upon returning to university after my year at Microsoft and eventually decided to leave university after obtaining my Bachelors instead of progressing to Honours.  Sometimes I still wonder if I did the right thing, but know that ultimately it was a good decision – my heart just wasn’t in it and I wasn’t enjoying my fourth year after having such a great time during my internship.  I now have a good job with prospects and work with great people, but know that I can always return to my studies on a part time basis (an MEng does sound rather tempting).

My journey has been a little more difficult compared to the average student.  Having a young family meant I had to manage my time better than my younger, more carefree peers and didn’t socialise as often as I would have liked to, however I felt that as a mature student I had a better attitude towards my studies and was able to organise myself a lot better than I did first time round.  I did sometimes feel like a bit of a mother figure, especially in first year, however I soon found that I wasn’t the only mature student and meeting people in a similar situation made things far less daunting.

Being one of a handful of women in the School of Computing could have been a daunting prospect, but again I think being that little bit older helped.  It did get a little lonely at times, however I immersed myself in all things Connect and it was so wonderful to have a network just for women STEM students.  The various events that were held really opened my eyes to the opportunities available and how being a woman in tech doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.  I met some wonderful, inspiring women through my involvement with Connect (and Interconnect) and have made some fantastic friends.  I’m still very much in the minority at work, however the guys in my team are great and although I’m kinda loath to say this I do feel like ‘one of the lads’ (if there’s a better phrase, do let me know).

So here I am, the first person in my family to obtain a degree.  I’m at the end of a major academic journey and am very proud of what I’ve achieved.  However, I’m still mulling over the idea of doing a Masters as I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning and hope that I’ve managed to inspire some women along the way.

What does the future hold for this humble lass from a typical working class family? Watch this space.  Onwards and upwards…

Phoenix

Rise Like a Phoenix

Okay, so I’m not as gorgeous or fabulous as Conchita Wurst, but the past few months have been pretty uplifting so sorry not sorry.  A lot has happened since I last blogged back, dear reader – so much so that I regret not finding the time to blog about everything. However, there’s plenty more to come!

Hello world…

After my last post swithering whether to stick my Honours year out or not, the decision was made when my tentative investigation of the job market resulted in me landing a very nice role as a trainee cloud engineer for an Edinburgh based bank.  Sometimes I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been – I have a great job with plenty of opportunities to progress and develop my skillset through training and certification, my boss and the team I work with are fantastic people and there’s a Costa Coffee on site.  Not many people can say they are looking forward to getting to work when the alarm goes off in the morning, so I consider myself very lucky.

I honestly thought I’d never end up in fintech, thinking it would be a bit stale and boring, but from the start I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of thought and creativity that goes into building solid, responsive and secure banking systems with the customer very much in mind using AWS and associated automation tools.  There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

Ah yes, AWS.  After a year of Azure and the Microsoft stack, flipping over to Amazon’s offering has been two months of retraining the old noggin and revising my Linux knowhow.  Most of what we do is Linux based, but strangely enough I’ve already gotten a reputation as being the Microsoft person and am currently working on a Windows project.  It was inevitable, I suppose!

…cheerio academia

Someone asked me recently if I regret leaving university at all.

My answer?  No.

I’m still confident I made the right choice and am very happy with my BEng with distinction.  I was genuinely looking forward to my Honours project, however, which was going to be a wireless mesh network built with Raspberry Pi Zeros, but enthusiasm for my other fourth year modules was pretty much non-existent.  Most of my fellow students who also went out on placement told me they were struggling with their enthusiasm too and many of them have also found jobs and left uni.

I suspect that having to do four and a half years for an Honours degree instead of the usual four is too much for many – I also admit that I struggled with the thought of having to wait until December to finish.  We all knew that going on placement would extend our degrees, but I guess the reality and implications didn’t really hit us until we’d returned to uni.  Still, when I announced that I was withdrawing my lecturers were very supportive.

The future is bright

So, there you have it.  I’ve emerged blinking into the world of work after three and a bit years of study, clutching a degree in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other.  Mission accomplished, I reckon.  Whatever the future holds, I’m ready – my job is great, I enjoy what I do and like that phoenix I’m ready to keep rising.

jackiechan

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In addition to the title of this post being an excellent song by The Clash, it also fits my current state of mind rather well.  I’ve been back at university for two months now after my 13 month placement with Microsoft.  My degree takes four and a half years because I went on placement, so I’m still in third year and enter my fourth (Honours) year in January.  However, I find myself being torn between taking the Bachelors degree and hitting the job websites or sticking university out for another year to earn Honours.  I know I’m not the only student with this dilemma so I thought I’d make some cases for and against staying at university for Honours.

Why Stay?

The most obvious answer is that the Honours degree carries more prestige than a regular Bachelors degree.  University staff tell us that the extra year is worth it because it means a bigger starting salary upon graduation and gives you better job prospects.  I also haven’t seen a graduate scheme yet that doesn’t take on people with an Honours degree, so if you’re aiming to go down that route you’d find getting onto a scheme extremely difficult otherwise.  The fourth year Honours project demonstrates that a student can plan, carry out and execute a project, teaching skills that will come in extremely useful in the workplace.  It is possible to continue with Honours should a student decide to leave university, however my programme leader has advised me not to go down that route as he feels students tend to lose their momentum and interest.  I was strongly advised that if I want Honours I should stay on at university so I have all the help and support I need.

Why Go?

My first thought here is money.  It’s tough being a student, especially on the financial side of things, and after a year of enjoying a regular wage I admit that I haven’t quite adjusted to the loss of income – my student loan just doesn’t stretch as far as my salary did.  As a mature student, financial pressures figure more in my life than the average 20 something student living in halls or with their parents.  I have rent and bills to pay, a child to clothe and feed and no extra time to take on a part time job to supplement the student loan.  I’ve also worked in the past and have been advised by a few friends and colleagues that I probably wouldn’t benefit from going on a graduate scheme as I already have the skills they teach.  I know a few people who have done just fine with a regular Bachelors degree and feel that, without getting too bigheaded, my year at Microsoft speaks volumes about my professional abilities.  Although (as previously mentioned) my programme leader strongly suggests sticking around to do Honours full time, there is the option of distance learning and am confident I have the discipline needed for part time study should I want the extra letters after my name.

What to Do?

It’s a tough choice with no obvious answer.  I think that if I hadn’t gone on placement I’d probably feel more inclined to stay on for Honours; after having a taste of what it’s like to have money in the bank again I find that I really miss the regular income and the freedom of not having to worry so much should disaster happen – for example, the washing machine broke down a few months ago and the sheer luxury of being able to just pop onto a website and order a new one without having to worry about if I could afford it was utter bliss.  I also miss working and am aching to get back into the workplace.

Looking on the flip side, my career prospects could be wider with an Honours degree and would open more doors.  I may or may not be interested in opening certain doors and opportunities will always present themselves anyway if you’re moving in the right direction.  I have a growing feeling, however, that all an Honours degree offers someone like me is academic kudos and I’m not sure if I’m hungry enough for it.  I’m confident in the skills I have picked up through my time at university and in the world of work, plus I’m a firm believer in personal development so I will never stop learning.  I’m on course for a BEng with distinction, which might not be as fancy as a first or a 2:1 but it’s still something to be very proud of.

I’m not dead!

So yeah, it’s been a while.  Did you miss me?

This is the end, beautiful friend…

I did intend to blog about my placement at Microsoft, however I lead too busy a life and with the extra work I had to put in for university in addition to working full time five days a week and trying to find time for my family, I made the decision to take a break.  I really need to learn how to say no!

After an intense but very fun year working for Microsoft, I handed in my security pass at the end of July and tried not to get too emotional at my leaving do.  I ended being more emotional when given my leaving presents but shhh, don’t tell anyone…

…they know me so well!

I already miss everyone as I can genuinely say that Microsoft is the best company I’ve worked for (so far).  The work culture is fantastic, the opportunities are plentiful and the office is a five minute walk from the bus stop and train station – handy for lazy gits like me!  However, I knew it would end at some point as my return to university loomed so I made the most of my time there.  I even managed to get some certification under my belt and am the proud owner of a bit of paper saying I’ve passed the Security Fundamentals exam, hurray!

Going on placement was worth it on so many levels.  In addition to the tremendous amount of experience and kudos I gathered while working there, it was actually a good feeling just to be back into the world of work.  I probably should expand on my experiences a little more, but having just written a massive end of year report for university my brain still hurts too much.  I’m sure you can imagine though, dear reader, how ecstatic I was when I got the call last May asking if I’d like to go work for one of the biggest and oldest tech companies on the planet and how fortunate I feel after 13 months of industry insight and the opportunity to make some wonderful friends and professional contacts.  I intend to put everything I’ve learned to good use when I’m back in the world of academia and ultimately post graduation, which fortunately is an awful lot.

Although my placement was an absolute blast, I was more than ready for my holiday to France.  Sitting in a gite in the middle of rural Brittany drinking the local cidre really helped me to put my thoughts in order, plus I had ample opportunity to put my shiny new Band through its paces as we holidayed.  Being so busy and then suddenly not having anything to worry about always gives me a strange anti-climactic feeling as I don’t always enjoy having nothing to do, but the holiday was a welcome tonic and I returned to dear old Ecosse refreshed and ready for the next set of challenges with a full set of batteries.

Back to the world of academia

Since returning from France I’ve been working on trying to get back into the swing of being a good-for-nothing student again.  Admittedly I am looking forward to going back to uni, despite the last minute pressures of getting the big report done and feeling I have no brain cells left.  The end of my degree is starting to creep up over the horizon and I’m ready for the final stretch.

I’m pleased to be returning to the role of Interconnect Student Champion for the 2015/16 academic year at Napier and thoroughly enjoyed meeting my fellow champions from across Scotland today at the Equate Scotland office.  I was also recently successful in my application to be a Microsoft Student Partner.  Not sure exactly what the role will entail in the coming year but I’m looking forward to it all the same.  I’m definitely going to have to put my time management skills to very good use this year – I told you have I have trouble saying no, didn’t I?

To be continued…

Life at Microsoft, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bing

You know my last post, giving advice on how to deal with placement applications?  Well, I’ve done something right there because it got me a one year internship with Microsoft.  Hurray! *does a happy dance*

To throw some light on what I’m actually going on about, I shall attempt to clarify.  Instead of spending my third year of studies on campus, I’m out on the job through Work Based Learning.  This means that I’m out on placement from uni, getting some real world experience while keeping a log of my progress with my workplace tutor.  Unfortunately I still have to do some work for uni to prove that I am actually making the most of my placement, but *SHAMELESS PLUG* tools like OneNote come in really handy for taking rough notes for proper write ups later on.  It’s only going to get worse from here on in, I promise you…

My placement started in July and my main duties concern the Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC), where I work as the lab engineer.  The MTC is an environment where we demonstrate business solutions to clients, covering everything from Office 365 to Windows Azure Pack.  Instead of the traditional death by Powerpoint, the MTC gives clients and partners the opportunity to see solutions in action and act upon anything that comes up in the sessions.  This of course means that the room contains a wonderful assortment of devices for folk to play while they learn about how awesome Microsoft products are.  I’m also in charge of the on premises datacentre, on which we host the virtual machines that run our demo environments.  Coming from two years of learning how to do things the Cisco way at uni, it was a massive culture shock to discover how powerful software defined networking is – very rarely do I need to physically configure anything in the datacentre as I can pretty much do it all virtually.  It’s a really exciting time to be at Microsoft as they’re working really hard to show off the wonders of the likes of Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Centre, Azure….the list goes on!

There’s so much to say about life at Microsoft – as you can imagine though, I work in a very fast moving environment and no two days are the same.  In addition to expanding on my initial training, I have the day job to take care of so things can get quite hairy at times; however, my colleagues are absolutely lovely and always happy to answer my inane questions.  Microsoft are also very focused on personal development and flexible working, which gives me the opportunity to pick up new skills or expand on my current knowledge, whether it be through certification or getting involved in work projects.  As long as the day job gets done, I’m free to get involved in whatever takes my fancy – within reason, of course!  The intern programme is a big part of my Microsoft life, with lots of events, projects and activities to get involved with.  I’m really enjoying my time there so far, becoming more and more immersed in Microsoft products as I go.  No doubt I’ll have more enthralling tales for you in the near future.

We do of course talk a lot about our competitors and Google isn’t exactly a dirty word round the office, but I do have to be careful when talking about search engines…anyway, who needs Siri when there’s Cortana?

How to get that placement

One of the great things about studying at Edinburgh Napier is the encouragement given and resources available for those who wish to spend their third year on a work placement.  Instead of spending another year living on toast and tea and spending far too much time in the campus library, the Work Based Learning module allows students to get some real world work experience while earning a decent salary.  Although I have worked previously, I decided to join those looking for a placement as it’s a great opportunity to work in an environment relevant to my studies and update my skillset.

I’ve been asked by several students for advice on how to secure a placement, which is really quite flattering, so I thought I’d share my thoughts and tips on placement hunting here and hope you also find them useful!

Planning your CV

This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s quite surprising how many people neglect or don’t even have a CV.  It’s therefore really important that you 1) have one and 2) keep it accurate and up to date.

Your CV should begin with a strong personal statement – don’t be shy in selling yourself! Despite the fantastic grades and relevant experience for the job, if you don’t make yourself stand out on paper you run the risk of being overlooked.  It’s commonplace for people to have tailored CVs depending on the job being applied for (I have two or three) and completely acceptable to list the qualifications and work experience, paid or voluntary, you think is relevant to the role you’re applying for.  Although the more information you can include the better, keep it concise – a good CV will never be more than two pages long.

You may occasionally be called upon to submit your CV with a cover letter.  I have a template which I amend accordingly, making the submission process a quicker and stress free.  There are lots of great examples out there, so if you’re stuck for inspiration you’ll find a suitable example fairly quickly.

Finding a placement to apply for

This step can be pretty daunting, but if you plan well it is a fairly easy process!  I started by getting into the habit of checking the placement noticeboard outside the school office regularly, noting any positions of interest and submitting an application.  Some companies will simply ask you to submit your CV, while larger companies such as IBM and Microsoft have their own application processes.  Sites such as Target Jobs and E-Placement Scotland are great places to start, although if you’re interested in working for a particular company it’s always worthwhile checking their recruitment site for placement opportunities.  Some application processes are pretty lengthy, so be prepared for things like numeracy tests and being asked for information that can’t be copied and pasted from your CV.

The big day

So you’ve submitted your CV or worked your way through a company’s (usually lengthy) application process and they want to interview you – hurray!  If you’ve gotten to the interview or assessment centre stage, this means that they really like you and you deserve a big pat on the back. for getting this far.  However, this is where the hard work really starts, so don’t relax just yet.  As mentioned before, every organisation has their own way of doing things but preparation in the main areas is key to your success.

Research, research research

Knowledge is power and the key to your success.  Don’t just have a quick shufty at the company’s website and hope the interviewer doesn’t ask you any awkward questions – read up on its history, familiarise yourself with its structure and read up on current projects and successes.  The more you can demonstrate your knowledge of the company, the more impressed they will be that you have taken the time to do so.  Sometimes you will be given a rough idea of what’s expected of you, on the day so use that information to your advantage when you prepare.

Be prepared for the unknown

The biggest problem for anyone in an interview is nerves – I’ve had interviews where I’ve fluffed even the most basic questions because I’ve been so jittery.  Instead of letting your nerves get the better of you, harness that raw adrenaline running through your body and make it work for you.  Be confident and proud of your successes, but don’t forget to be modest while playing to your strengths.  Most interviews these days are competency based, so familiarise yourself with the STAR technique – Situation, Task, Action, Result.  Again there are lots of examples online, so find a resource you like and practice.  If you have some answers already lined up, you’ll find that you will be able to answer the interviewer’s questions much easier.

You may be required to attend a technical interview or prepare a short presentation on a subject given to you, so once again research is key.  What the interviewer is looking for is how competent you are in communicating your answers – it’s okay if you can’t answer a question, just be honest and admit that you don’t know the answer!  If you are asked to do a presentation, remember that the interviewer is looking for your ability to communicate the finer points of your presentation matter, not your actual presentation skills.  Again though, practice makes perfect and will soothe those frazzled nerves.  I find it useful to try and preempt any questions that might be asked at the presentation and ensure that I have at least a basic understanding of anything I’m not immediately familiar with.

Questions are good

If in doubt, ask!  It’s better to ask questions, no matter how daft you might think they are, rather than staying silent and kicking yourself on the way home for your lack of courage.  There’s no harm in writing down a list of questions you may have – interviews are hard work and it’s really easy to forget that vital question you wanted to ask!  One great tip I was given a while back was at the end of an interview, ask the interviewer if there’s anything about your application they may have a question on – it’s equally common for an interviewer to forget what they wanted to ask and it helps to clear up any small niggles.

The aftermath

As part of my own self development, I always ask when to expect a decision and follow that up with a request for feedback.  Some interviewers are happy to give you their thoughts on the day, but more often than not you’ll receive your feedback a week or so afterwards.  Whatever the outcome, it’s always good to know where you performed well and where you could use some improvement as every company has its own procedure, so there’s always something new to be learned.

Good luck!

 

acmw_europe_logo

WomENcourage Conference, 1 March 2014

Ah, Manchester, the home of modern computing (and some of the best bands ever).  From the work of Alan Turing to the inception of The Baby and beyond, the city has given the world of technology many wonderful firsts.  The latest addition to this list is the inaugural ACM Women conference, WomENcourage.

ACM Women Europe supports, celebrates and advocates the full engagement of women across the EU in computing, providing programs and services to their members while working in the wider community to advance women’s technical contributions and careers in the field.

The first European WomEncourage conference took place at the University of Manchester in the Kilburn building (named after Jack Kilburn, one of the people responsible for The Baby), a very fitting venue for the event.  Aleksandra Wruk and myself attended as the Edinburgh Napier University contingent and I also exhibited a poster.

The day itself was absolutely jam packed with talks, panel events and activities.  Our keynote speaker was Professor Dame Wendy Hall, who gave a wonderfully engaging and rousing talk on her work, life and career and the difficulties she faced on her journey.  Wendy’s story was really empowering and she is a perfect role model for successful women in senior positions.  Sadly I didn’t really get to talk with her as she was always surrounded by other people, but when I did get a chance to have a quick chat she was really lovely.  It’s also not every day that you get to meet a dame and a Fellow of the Royal Society!  We also enjoyed two great panel sessions with representatives from the likes of Google, Intel, the University of Greenwich, Facebook, Bloomberg, Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, which were both enlightening and tremendous fun.

My favourite part of the day was the Unconference, a completely new concept to me.  The idea of the Unconference was that everyone wrote an idea for discussion on a Post-It and we voted for the ideas we liked the most.  The votes were tallied up and we were then free to attend a discussion group of our choice and encouraged to attend as many groups as we wished.  I plumped for the cybersecurity group, where we discussed a wide range of topics from banking security to how much of our lives we are happy to share on the likes of Facebook.  It was great to be able to share ideas with folk from a wide range of academic and professional positions and listen to their thoughts and experiences regarding the subject matter.

Needless to say with such a packed schedule I was totally drained by the end of the day.  Thankfully the 8th Day Co-Op was still open so I ended up devouring a vegan pastie to refresh my batteries on the way to the train station.  We were kept so busy I didn’t really get much of a chance to network, however I really enjoyed myself, gained a new Twitter friend thanks to my poster and took a lot away from the conference.  The next WomENcourage conference is in Uppsala, Sweden in 2015, so I’ll have to get my thinking cap on for my next poster idea.

One more thing – if you’re ever in Manchester and fancy a proper pint, I can highly recommend the Port Street Beer House.  You can’t beat a proper beer served by staff who love their craft!

Jen Barber

The Year of Code

Wow, hasn’t this been quite the contentious little subject recently?  The Year of Code has been launched with a massive fanfare, backed by the UK government.  An admirable initiative one might think, but I’ve yet to meet a techie who supports Year of Code.  Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Jen Barber – oops, sorry! – Lottie Dexter, head of Year of Code and politics graduate, has admitted that she can’t code and doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of the subject matter she is meant to promote.

  • The initiative’s chairman, Rohan Silva, is a philosophy, politics and economics graduate.  Do you see a pattern forming yet?
  • Rohan is also the Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures, a company headed up by Saul Klein.  Saul also happens to sit on the board of Year of Code and companies such as Kano Computing, Codeacademy and Songkick, all of which are involved with the initiative.   Again, there is little evidence of technical knowledge from Saul.

Now, I’m definitely all for encouraging computer science subjects being introduced to children from an early age but there are already some fantastic initiatives already on the go, Coding at School being a prime example.  A quick look around the site and you’ll soon find that the people running the scheme, Carl Turland and Richard Russell, actually know a thing or two.  Fancy that!

It’s frustrating that what is essentially a good idea is derailed by the likes of government bods who probably struggle to change the font in Word thinking that hiring lobbyists, marketeers and soulless PR bods to run such schemes is a great idea.  They can certainly make schemes look shiny, but they simply can’t hide the tarnish once you scratch the surface a little.

The UK is a hotbed of ideas and has a fantastic reputation when it comes to technology, so it’s really maddening when well established initiatives such as Coding at School and the Raspberry Pi Foundation are overlooked in favour of slick but ultimately badly thought out schemes such as Year of Code.  I’m also not convinced that I like the amount of corporate interference the scheme has from the likes of Index Ventures, although to be fair to Kano and Code Academy they are both very worthwhile schemes in their own right.  It’s almost as if Year of Code wish to piggyback Coding at School’s success, which is completely daft.  What they should be doing is joining forces, working together capitalise on each camp’s talents to introduce some of the most sought after workplace skills to schoolchildren and encouraging the next generation of engineers.

And so on to 2014

*pokes head round the door* Is this thing still on?  Oh, it is; wonderful!

I realised around Christmas that I haven’t blogged in months, which truth be told I’m a little ashamed about, but I thought I should check in and assure you, dear reader, that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  I have in fact been pretty busy with uni, family and work life, which has been blimmin’ hard to balance this semester!  It’s amazing how demanding my second year studies have become after the joyride of first year, but I’ve actually enjoyed knuckling down and getting stuff done and have some really nice grades as a result.  I’m so lucky to have such a lovely husband who is happy to keep the small child entertained while I’m working/studying and said small child is equally wonderful for understanding that sometimes Mummy needs to get this stupid bit of code working before she can play Minecraft (don’t talk to me about dictionaries on web services ever).

Now that the festivities are over and done with, however, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into a couple of new projects and spending some proper quality time with the family sans the rest of the family.  How come Christmas always sees me spending far too much time and money on making others happy instead of focusing on me and mine, which I’m pretty sure is what you’re meant to do at this time of year?  Anyway, it’s all over – hurray!  Well, for now…

As I’m writing this post at stupid o’clock and not feeling particularly compos mentis, I’ve decided not to ramble too much and write a proper post when I’m not so tired.  In the meantime, here is a gratuitous picture of Greebo the kitten, aka the 4 am Attention Seeker.

Greebo

Ding ding, Year 2!

Ah, it’s really good to be back at uni and so lovely to catch up with friends.  It’s funny though how the summer months seem to drag, but once you get the first week of classes out of the way it feels like you never left.  For those of us working at the uni over the summer though, we’ve all commented on how weird it is that the corridors are full of fellow students again and appreciate how the permanent members of staff feel when we all start piling into the campus in September.

It still feels a bit weird to be a second year student, but I’m getting used to it.  Already I’m feeling the weights and responsibilities starting to dangle from above, so I’m determined to keep on top of things this year and keep the extra curricular stuff to a minimum – I have a real problem with saying “No” sometimes!  Saying that, there’s already so much going on I’ve decided to make a bullet list, at the very least to remind me of what I’m meant to be doing:

In addition to all this, I’ve also got to find time for my family and studies – who’d be a mature student!

Connect

Last week was Freshers week, which was busy but really enjoyable.  Maria (the engineering student champion) and I worked the Connect Stand at the Freshers Fair and were really pleased with the amount of women stopping by for a chat and some freebies.  We also heavily promoted the group’s Welcome Event on the 13th of September, which seemed to have worked quite well judging by the amount of women who came along.  It was so heartening to see lots of existing students mingling with the newcomers, proving that our wee network is definitely growing.  I’m really looking forward to the next event, which should be even more fun with our new members.

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I also helped out at Aberdeen College‘s Freshers Fair on the 4th of September, which was really fun.  We got talking to lots of lovely people and gathered some new members for the group, plus the sun actually came out!  In Aberdeen!  This is the stuff of legend, folks.

Once more into the breach

It’s just occurred to me as I get to this point in my post that I really am good at keeping myself busy!  I don’t care though; I enjoy being involved in so many things and if it complements my studies then that’s even better.

Time to dig out the old textbooks and do some work, now that Visual Studio has finally stopped updating; Microsoft has a lot to answer for sometimes!  I’m so glad we had that mini break in Blackpool at the weekend, I’m going to need all the energy I can muster…

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