Tuesday, 29 March 2011

First Time For Everything.

What do you do when you get into your Car? For me I turn on the Radio (when an annoying advert is not on). I find listening to the radio one of my favourite things when driving. Have you ever driven with the radio not on? It's strange and you do feel sort of lonely.

So did I EVER think I would be on Radio? Of course not. I am a listener, not a broadcaster. In all honesty I have never really thought about the person behind the microphone broadcasting shows you can't see. This all changed when I was approached by a guy called Jon through Twitter. He works for my local hospital radio and asked if he could interview me about my job, blogging and hobbies etc. When he first asked me I was hesitant. I have nothing interesting to say and who would want to listen to, effectively, a nobody.

In the end I am so pleased I said yes. It was an experience and certainly something I have now written and crossed off on my bucket list. On Sunday I did it and Jon was a great interviewer even if I was a little nervous at first. I was very quickly settled and loving it.

I also got the pleasure to hear a local unsigned artist sing in front of me. If you ever have some free time her name is Tiger Lilly and she gave me her album, which I have to say is very good. It has currently replaced the radio in my Car! Check her out here

Oh and by the way if you ever do go on radio don' t dull yourself up. I did haha. I wore a nice little dress and made sure I appeared decent. It was not until I was in front of the microphone I realised I could have worn my PJ's if I wanted to (not that I would of course).

I really enjoyed myself and thank you to those of you who tuned in and sent in messages. You can listen to my interview here on a podcast. You don't need to download it, just click play and you'll be able to listen. Thanks again Jon!

There's a first time for everything and certainly not something I thought I would ever do. I hope you enjoy :)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Radio Ga Ga!

I am going to be on one of my local radio stations TONIGHT! I am so excited. It is based on my hospital site and I was asked to be interviewed about my job. I am really looking forward to it and I hope you can tune in.

It is TONIGHT at 9pm GMT. You can listen via their website www.radiowey.co.uk where you can request songs and send messages. 

See you there!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Blog Series: Tamara

I have only just recently become a fan of Tamara's (aka Starlight) blog. She's adorable and I am so pleased she chose to guest post for me. I specifically chose Tamara's guest post to be last. Simply because she does not know what she wants to do. She has ideas and dreams though, big dreams. Here Tamara explains in more detail.

If you would ask little Starlight what she wants to be and what she wants to do when she grows up, she would have told you that she wants to be a lawyer. She would have also told you that she wants to fight crime and put the bad guys behind bars.

She had a clear picture of a grown-up-Starlight in her head: she would be the crime fighter in a beautiful and elegant black suit – skirt just covering her knees and a matching jacket over a beautiful red or violet shirt. She would have a black leather suitcase which would contain her notes about the bad guys she has yet to put behind bars.

If you ask Starlight what she wants to do and what she wants to be now when she actually is a grown up woman she would have honestly told you that she doesn’t know.

I’m a student of political science though it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to study journalism but I knew I didn’t have a chance to get in so I chose political science. First year was very tough for me; I was lost and political science wasn’t what I really wanted to study. But now I’m in the third year (6th semester) and I’m very satisfied with my decision and also very glad that I didn’t give up two years ago. We have some wonderful professors and a lot of really interesting lectures and I love it.

I have one and a half years left before I get my bachelor’s degree if everything goes according to plan. I already know what I’m going to write about in my bachelor's thesis which is a very big deal for me.  After getting my bachelor’s degree I’m planning to continue studying and get my master's degree. So this means that I have a two-year plan.

But I have no idea what I’m going to do after I get my master's. I don’t know where I’m going to work. I don’t know what exactly I want to do. Moreover, I don’t even want to think about this because it’s scary for me to be so lost at the age of 23.

I know I’m not the only one in this position; I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what they want to do/be but this doesn’t comfort me at all. I’m a control freak and I have to have control over my life and not knowing where I’m headed is terrifying for me. I wish I knew exactly what I want, just the way I did when I was 10.

If you would ask little Starlight what she wants to be and what she wants to do when she grows up, she would have also told you that she wants to be a writer. She loved writing short stories and she had always wanted to write a novel.

And if you ask Starlight what she wants to do and what she wants to be now when she’s all grown up she would have also honestly told you that she still wants to be a writer. This is still her BIG dream.

I was always writing something – short stories, poems, reviews of books etc. That’s what I have always loved to do and I still love writing. It calms me down and it makes me feel good about myself. That’s why I started blogging and I’m very happy that I have 75 followers and a couple of regular readers and commentators. A couple of them became my friends even though we never met in person. Blogging is one step forward to me being a writer. 

Thank you Tamara for sharing! Some people, like Tamara, still aren't sure and you know what that's okay! You can find Tamara's blog 'Crazy Thoughts' here

And that's the end of my first blog series :(! I wanted this series to broadcast how diverse we are and that what we do or want to do makes a big impact. This is not only for ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with, but also to society. There have been some guest posters aspirations who are doing things we have never heard of! Or it has changed our views on what they do and develop a new found admiration for them! Yet, I also wanted to illustrate that some people do not know what they want to do BUT it doesn't stop them from dreaming. This is where we are the same. Everyone has dreams of what they want to be, what they want do and who they want to become....it's just how we get there. Thank you SO MUCH to each of you that guest posted. I really appreciate it and I hope you enjoyed it!

The whole ethos of this blog series has been that wherever you are going or will end up, is that a journey of a thousand miles, always starts with a single step.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Blog Series: April

Welcome April! This girl rocks my world and it gives me a pretty good reason to go to Vegas. I know you'll love her too. Her tweets crack me up and I loved learning about what she does for a career :)

Hello from fabulous Las Vegas! I’m April and I normally blog over at myuncensoredvegaslife but I kinda took a little blog vacation and haven’t been back. I’ve been procrastinating this guest post because I’m a perfectionist and I feel like my writing is crappy lately since I haven’t blogged in so long but…here it is! Rebecca is just the sweetest girl in the world (with the coolest accent) and I’m so glad to have met her through blogging. It’s an honor to be guest posting on her piece of the internet.
Whenever I tell people I live in Vegas I always get a few funny questions, but one of the post popular ones is “Do you live in a hotel on the strip?” That question is always a joke with locals, but now I can kinda say I do (for 45 plus hours a week).  I am the new marketing manager at a casino/hotel on the famous Las Vegas Strip. I have been at this job for 3 weeks now, and coming from a job that I absolutely hated I can genuinely say that I LOVE my new job.
I wish I had an hour-by-hour schedule of what I normally do at work but each day is SO different. In the past 3 weeks I have: created a new promotion, designed a print advertisement, placed the advertisement in a magazine/newspaper, had a billboard put up in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, planned and worked an event, created posters, pitched reporters to write about our casino, had an article published in a magazine and a blog, and handled all the social media for our property. I like to call it baptism by fire ;-)
One of the funniest things that has happened to me so far was during my first week. It is required, by law, for us to have a certain number of porn boxes on our property sidewalks (they are little metal boxes that have naked women on porn cards and magazines inside…gross I know but this is “Vegas”). So we decided to be funny and buy our own porn boxes and instead of filling them with images of naked women we created our own flyers to tape to the front and stick inside.
Each flyer is a play on words with something that sounds like porn but isn’t. For example….”Bearly legal” is a picture of bears dressed up like lawyers. “Kitty porn” is a picture of a cat licking its paws. “Big jugs” is a picture of milk cartons. We have about 10 different “fake porn” flyers that we rotate in and out of the boxes.
Well, being the newby that I was/still am I decided that I was going to fill these fake porn boxes one Friday afternoon. I didn’t think anything of it until I was out on the street filling the boxes as cars were driving by honking at me. From the street, they look like regular porn boxes and there I was during rush hour giving people the impression that I distributed porn for a living. It was super embarrassing and the icing on the cake was the car full of guys that rolled down their windows to yell and make fun of me. Lesson learned? Never fill the fake porn boxes on a Friday afternoon during rush hour.
It’s been the coolest job so far and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Maybe I’ll even start blogging again about the funny things that happen at work. The most important lesson I have learned is: Follow your heart. I know it’s cheesy and people always say this but it’s true…if you love your job you will never work a day in your life.
Can you see why she makes me laugh? I love her job. One of the things I love about this post is that it is"so" April. It suits her to the ground, her personality fits the role like a jigsaw perfectly. Thank you girl! You can find April's blog here.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Blog Series: Amanda

Today I introduce Amanda to you a.k.a my middle name twin! You know in life when someone says to you"I could never do a job like that!" Well I could seriously never enter the world of Law like Amanda has. So I am SUPER happy that she is sharing her world with you here.

Greetings from California! I'm honored that Rebecca would trust me to write my first-ever guest post on her blog, so I'll do my best to make my Middle Name Twin proud. Here's a little insight into my profession...be forewarned that having a career that is all about written and oral advocacy means I'm a very wordy girl!

Profession: Attorney (soon-to-be)

I'm in my final weeks of law school and will graduate with my J.D. (juris doctor) in May. Contrary to popular belief, graduating from law school doesn't make you a lawyer - you have to pass the Bar Exam in order to be admitted to practice. I'll be taking the big, bad California Bar Exam in July; hopefully that will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will pass with flying colors (knock on wood). 

I've gone back and forth over what to say to you all, so I thought I would give you a "Week in the Life" of what I normally do every week! Since I’m a full-time student but also work, things are a little chaotic around these parts.

5-6am Wake up, hit snooze, etc.
6-8am Get ready for the day
8-10am Finish up any reading for class I haven't completed or run errands
10:30 - Noon Class at the law school
Noon - 5pm Work Work Work
5-6pm Home for dinner and any last minute reading
6:15 - 8:30pm Class at the law school
8:45 - 11pm Home and reading or doing research for several major papers I have due this semester

Morning Routine
9am-5pm Work Work Work
5-6pm Home for dinner and any last minute reading
6:15 - 8:30pm Class at the law school
Evening Routine (more studying…)

Morning Routine
10:30 - Noon Class at the law school
Noon-1pm Lunch at the law school
1-3pm Class at the law school
3-6pm Study in the law library
6:15-9:30pm Class at the law school
Evening Routine (more studying…)

Morning Routine
9am-5pm Work Work Work
6pm Home 
Thursdays are my free weeknight, so I try and keep things very chill - I make dinner and settle in for a quiet night of school work and maybe a movie or TV show on DVD (I don't have cable because otherwise I'd never get anything done...and it's too expensive for a student budget, ha!)

This is my "wild card" day - depending on how the week has turned out, I might have to go into work to catch up on projects or maybe I'll have the entire day to work on research and writing, it just varies. I have a Bible Study with some of my best friends on Friday nights and it's my kick-off to the weekend!

As you can see, I essentially go to work, go to school, and go home. My very own American version of “m├ętro, boulot, dodo.” The only non-law activities I have each week are church and Bible Study. That's not to say I don't go out or see my friends, but anything social has to be worked around that schedule and the older I get and the closer I am to finishing, the more I find myself choosing to stay home and get work done!

Law is such a wide field - there are dozens if not hundreds of things you can do with a legal education. It's impossible to boil down what it means to be a lawyer, because every lawyer's job is different and that's part of what I love about it. Every single person I go to school with is going to have a completely unique career path, from legal academia to criminal law to corporate transactions to personal injury to estate planning to entertainment law to family law...the list just goes on and on. 

Due to the nature of my work and very stringent confidentiality rules, I have to be pretty vague about what exactly I do (which I know doesn't make for particularly enticing reading). Essentially, I work for the government and do regulatory enforcement of state law. I manage my own case load, under the supervision of another attorney (until I'm licensed myself). I work cases from intake (when a violation of law is alleged) through the investigation process where evidence is gathered, and then perhaps administrative prosecution if we determine that the law was violated. The work is never ending, and for the past 18 months (and for years to come, I'm sure) for every case I've closed another is laid on my desk. I love the pace! Even though we have crazy workloads, our team is phenomenal. We're so collaborative and supportive of each other and it makes it a fabulous place to work. 

Working in a field comprised of mainly "case work" has really shown me how much I enjoy interacting with people. I talk to dozens of people, from defendants to opposing counsel to complainants to other state officials at all levels of government every day. As a government employee, my "client" is the public - I try and serve the interests of all the people of our state in making sure not only that our laws are enforced, but that that enforcement is fair and just and impartial. I love working in a "public interest" job and would be hard-pressed to visualize myself doing anything else with my life.

Law school has been a crazy ride, that's for sure. I've always loved school and excelled at it, but law school has stretched my will power, dedication, and intelligence in ways I couldn't even imagine. It has brought out the best in me, pushed me to achieve more and distinguish myself in ways that I didn't think were possible. It's also pushed me to my physical and emotional limits more than once. The intense stress associated with the heavy reading load (I read tens of thousands of pages a semester), the pressure of having your entire grade riding on one exam, and the uncertainty of a faltering legal economy can have a major impact on your health. I have to be vigilant about making sure I take time out for myself, foster friendships with people outside the legal profession (my little bursts of fresh air), and perhaps most important of all (for me): get enough sleep!!

Despite the exhaustion of it all, I'm thrilled to be looking forward to a career that challenges me intellectually and that I can pursue for decades to come!

I know this was long, but I hope it's given you a little insight into my life! I don't blog publicly currently, but if you have any questions you can feel free to email me at teasinglydiverse (at) gmail (dot) com, or you can follow me on twitter @amandalou01!

Thanks Becca!

No thank YOU Amanda! I think I speak on behalf of everyone here that you will pass your Bar exam and ace being an Attorney. You sure enough put the dedication and hours in :).

Monday, 21 March 2011

Blog Series: Holly

Happy Monday to you all and we are kicking off the second week of this series with Holly. She's a Kiwi. Not a literal Kiwi but from the country better known as New Zealand and I LOVE her blog. I am really eager to share what Holly has to say as if nursing had never worked out for me, I would be doing exactly what Holly is embarking on right now.

Hello to all of Rebecca's lovely readers!

My name is Holly, and I am a primary (or elementary, for all of you American people!) education student in Christchurch, New Zealand. My regular blog is here, at The Adventures of Holly.

By the end of this year, I will be a qualified teacher.

Why did I choose this career path? To be perfectly honest, I sort of "fell into it". I am doing this course as a grad student, which means I already hold a degree in something other than education. My major was Sociology, and when I left high school and started university, I wanted to be a social worker. After one semester, I realised that even though my 18 year old recent school leaver self had her heart in the right place, and a genuine desire to help others, she had nowhere near the maturity or life experience to do justice to such an "intense" career, where so much was at stake for other, very vulnerable, people. I switched my major to Sociology, with the understanding that if I still wanted to after graduation in 2.5 years time, I could continue with social work then.

Starting in my second year of university, I had been working at an out of school care programme, looking after primary school aged children before they started school in the morning. In the middle of 2009 I also started working at a tutoring center, providing ESL tuition and remedial/extension help. I was a Pippins leader for Girl Guiding NZ. I also created and taught in a youth theatre programme at a local community theatre (that's another whole story in itself!).

Amusingly, even though I was doing ALL these child and teaching centered things, and really enjoying most of them, I never wanted to be a teacher. I have A LOT of teachers in my family (and wider social circle). At my 21st birthday party, my uncle jokingly asked every teacher in the room to raise their hand, and, without a word of a lie, about one third of the guests were teachers! But not me. I was adamant that teaching was Not In My Future!

Fast forward to January 2010. I had graduated from university in December '09 and was trying to decide what to do next. I still didn't feel ready for social work, so I began to look for an alternative. Mum was keen for me to apply for TColl, and when I looked on the college website I realised that the application deadline for 2010 was two weeks away! Argh! This started a very busy two week period where I frantically put together my application and crossed my fingers that my two character referees got their reports in on time! Luckily for me it came together, I went to an interview, and on February 4th last year, I found out that I had been accepted. Wow. So THIS is where my life is going! Didn't really see THAT coming!

Over the last year and a bit, I have experienced so many things... 
I've taught Year 8 (12 year olds)...and Year 0 (5 year olds). 
I've been in a school where a teacher won a nation-wide reality TV show (while I was there!)...and in a school which was partially destroyed by an earthquake (not while we were in it, thank goodness!).
I've met some people who I hope will be life-long friends...and some people I just might be pleased to see the back of once we graduate.

I have also learned A LOT. Not only have I learned how to plan a lesson, how to gain (and keep!) the attention of 18 five-year-olds and how to read a book in an engaging way, but I have also learned HOW MUCH I DON'T KNOW!
  • I don't know how to handle misbehaviour very well; I screw this up more than I get it right.
  • I don't know how to gauge how much work students of any particular age can actually do in a set time; I always plan too much or not enough.
  • I don't know how to write neatly on a white board; It starts off ok, but quickly shrinks away to being completely illegible and far too small.
  • I don't know how to feel confident while teaching a whole class lesson; Yes, my supervising teachers often comment that I seem that way, but I'm just really good at Faking It.
In short, teaching was never something that I'd dreamed of doing all my life. It's not the career "love of my life", and it's not something I enjoy 110% of the time. It's not perfect, but it IS something I see value in. It IS something I hope I will become good at over time, and it IS something which is totally and completely worth it when a student in your class has a "lightbulb moment" after you've taught them something. Then, it just "feels right".

Thanks for reading this guest post. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope that anyone who might be considering teaching as a career thinks it through really carefully first, but also realises just how awesome and rewarding it can be.

Thank you so much Holly for doing this! You can read all of Holly's happenings at her personal blog here at 'The Adventures of Holly.'

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Blog Series: Patrice

I hope you are having a good weekend and I want to end it with a good read! If there is one thing I urge you to do today is follow Patrice's blog. I love her writing style and I think I have told her numerous times how great her writing is. Patrice has the ability to make you feel like she's having a conversation with you in all her posts. I swear she is in the same room as me when I am reading her blog. Welcome Patrice...

When I was younger, I used to always day dream about what I would be when I "grew up". I thought about everything; teacher, writer, editor, you name it it probably crossed my mind. Now that I am getting closer to being a "grown up", I am happy to say I think I have a pretty good idea of what I would like to do with my life, and I am happy to share that with all of you today! 
A couple years ago, my parents decided to join facebook. Unlike most people my age I welcomed this and in fact, I helped them set up their accounts. The more I taught them about facebook, the more I realized I really enjoyed this; I enjoyed explaining something I loved to someone else. The same thing happened in my freshman year speech class two years ago. I gave a "how-to" speech about Twitter. We had a 10 minute limit, and I found that so challenging! I realized then I could take something I loved like social media and show other people how to use it. It took awhile after this epiphany, but eventually a light bulb went off and I realized how I could turn this into a career. The more I learned about social media, the more I began to hear about social media marketing.
Social media marketing, for those unfamiliar, is using tools such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc to help companies market themselves. I always explain it like this: "You know when you watch commercials and at the end of the commercial it will say 'find us on facebook/twitter' or have the twitter and facebook logos? Well, I want to be that person that goes into the company, develops (or improves) those facebook and twitter pages, and manages them and show companies how using those tools can benefit them."
I have done some of this in various internships over the last couple years, and I am always doing my best to stay on the cutting edge of all things social media. This is my passion, and what better to do in life than use your passion to make money right?! 
I am only a junior in college, so I haven't had the chance to put this career to use yet, but I really look forward to it someday in the future! I feel fortunate that I know what I want to do after graduation, and I'm not just looking for "any" job, I'm looking for the right job that is doing what I love to do! 
My advice is not social media specific; my advice is for anyone wondering what career they should pursue. I'm lucky to have found something that I not only love to do, but that would make a great career! Find your strengths and see if you can use those to your benefit to make money! 
I'd like to thank Rebecca for giving me the chance to ramble on about my passion today! I love to talk about what I hope to do one day soon! 
I know when Patrice enters a job in any social media she'll do so well. You'd never think that what people enjoy in their spare time (like twitter, facebook, myspace) could actually be a job! You can enjoy Patrice's many other posts on her college life, her sisters battle with cancer and her really funny stories here at 'Not a girl, Not yet a woman' - Patrice thank you!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Blog Series: Mere

We enter this weekend introducing Mere to you (doesn't she have the sweetest name?). She wants to enter the world of nursing like I have. I know we talked about the nursing world the other day but I asked Mere because she has not started her nurse training yet. I wanted to gain a perspective from someone who wants to be a nurse and I know Mere will be resonating with so many hopeful nurses out there! Take it to the stage girl...

I am beyond excited to be doing this guest post for Becca! This is my second guest post and I have to tell you that I LOVE doing them because it gives me an opportunity to “meet” new people in the blogosphere…super fabulous!
I have wanted to be a Registered Nurse for as long as I can remember. From my first trip to the emergency room at age six to watching all sorts of Maternity Ward/Life in the ER shows with my mom growing up, I have always known exactly what I wanted to do. It fascinated me and still does. I’m also a person that would bend over backwards to help someone else and nurses do that on a regular basis. It’s just my thing. For the longest I wanted to work in Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or Pediatrics. I’ve now decided that Neonatal ICU babies would be too small for me to work on and break my heart into a bagillion little pieces all the time. Labor and Delivery would be an amazing experience because I’d get to assist in bringing new life into the world almost every day and that would ROCK. However, after reading all the pediatric oncology stories all over the web, I now feel as if I can best be a blessing to others by being a pediatric oncology nurse. I not only love kids, but I feel like I would really be able to brighten the lives of cancer patients and their families. 
When I become a nurse, that’s what speciality I most want to work in. I have wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher for as long as I have wanted to be a nurse so being a paediatric oncology nurse mashes my love for children and medicine into one career choice. I wish I could give some amazingly profound advice on nursing or nursing school, but because I am a freshman in college. I’m only able to say this: follow your heart. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s so true. Don’t pick a career because someone is shoving it down your throat or because it pays well. Do something you’re passionate about because at the end of the day, it’s you that has to live with your decision.
 Those of you that read my blog know I’m not very good at making life altering decisions such as choosing a career, so I have flip flopped several times over the past year or so compliments of getting more perspective on the world, I guess.  I’m still sort of in between career choices so to speak because I’m terrified of making the wrong choice and regretting it down the road. I’m half-tempted to get like 4 degrees and make up my mind later just because this is really difficult for me. Theatre is still so much a part of who I am and these past 9 months without theatre have been really difficult. I don’t know if I can continue to leave that part of me behind for much longer. I also would love to teach high school theatre at some point in my life. Maybe after my nursing degree?? :p
Thank you, my gorgeous Becca, for asking me to do this :).
A round of applause, thank you so much Mere!!! You can find Mere's blog at 'The Babblings of Mere' here.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Blog Series: Laura Anne

I am really tickled to introduce Laura to my blog. It isn't just because she's a home and away fan (she gets kudos from me though) or has one of the most insanely kindest hearts I know of (and I haven't even met her...yet) but I also I find what she does just incredible. I have no idea how she fits everything into her busy lifestyle (she has a secret twin I just know it). Yet, I very specifically wanted Laura to guest post for a particular reason and by the end of this post you'll know why.  So here's Laura, a wee lassie fae Leith...

Hi. It's an honour to be asked to be a guest on Rebecca's very first blog series! Especially as Rebecca was my first guest (you should totally check out her guest post here).

So how did I get from my dream of being a Geography teacher to where I am now - more than a decade later - the manager of a pregnancy resource centre? It was quite a journey, and it was a journey I didn't realise I was on until years later when I came back to the capital (of Scotland!) after 6 years of living in the Doric speaking North-East!

I had a number of different jobs during my time at university. I would always apply to jobs I felt a gut feeling that I should go for - I never once got rejected for any of them. But some of them I couldn't work out why I had felt led into them...it made no sense to me at the time.

Sales Associate at GapKids/BabyGap, Bartender, Night Club staff, Youth Advice Worker, Care Worker, Receptionist at the sexual health clinic...

From doing these jobs I discovered very quickly what I was skilled at, what I hated, what I wanted to do. It was working as a Youth Advice Worker in Community Education that showed me a career I never knew existed but LOVED. The difference between Comm Ed and teaching was huge. In schools I'd watch power plays between teacher and pupil, people be made to learn they way that was set out for them - even if it wasn't a way or environment in which they could learn well.

So I took a big step - I was in my 3rd year studying Geography and I transferred to a degree in Health Promotion at the medical school. My parents were none too happy at first - but I knew I was unhappy studying Geography, and I thought that Community Education was where I wanted to head, and Health Promotion would be more useful for that.

It was. :)

I got a temporary contract for 7 months working as a Community Education Worker after I graduated. It was a huge task. I was 22, and I had 23 staff to manage. They had been through a lot when I walked in, and I was totally unprepared for how to deal with that. I was fairly thrown in the deep end. At the same time I was training in pregnancy crisis counselling with a local charity that were about to open a pregnancy resource centre in Aberdeen.

The 7 months in a highly stressful job took their toll and when my contract ended I decided I would head to Australia, before returning to my hometown. I had no idea what I would do.

While I was searching for a job, I went along to a pregnancy resource centre to see if I could finish my training and volunteer with them. I walked out that day with a job application.

3 months later, I was working there. And all of a sudden I got to see how there were so many skills and just life lessons I'd learned from all my previous jobs (even working in the Night Club!) and got to combine my university degree and my work in Community Education into one role.

Now I get to train new volunteers in counselling skills and youth work skills. I get to develop our education programme. I do all the admin that is involved with running a pregnancy resource centre (not too dissimilar from running a community centre!). I get to go meet different people from other organisations. And most recently I got given a role with the national organisation we're affiliated to in helping support teams running centres across Scotland.

I love my job!

But that doesn't mean there aren't hardships. Working for a charity in our current economic climate is stressful and hardgoing. Technically I work 'part-time' but I'm expected to work a lot more than I'm actually paid for. Sometimes there hasn't been money to pay me straight away. Sometimes there is no money to fund training so I can get better at what I do. I had to move back in with my Mum & her husband because I couldn't afford to live independently anymore. I can't afford a contract phone or go shopping for new clothes, or get my haircut regularly (or get it coloured anymore...boo!), or get proper dental care or get my car fixed, or replace broken laptops, phones or iPods. I've been on 1 holiday in 4 years.

It might sound petty, but those are things I'd got used to being able to do and often get frustrated at the limitations living hand to mouth can bring. It's also been a lesson in accepting help and generosity from others. :)

My advice to anyone is - you don't have to take the conventional route. Go out and experience! You can learn from the jobs you dislike as much as the ones you hate, and don't rely purely on a degree. Job experience is in some ways a great deal more valuable. There's also a limit on blaming your parents for your life decisions - there comes a point where you have to make your own choices. My parents within a few months saw how much I was excelling in my new degree & realised it was the right thing to have done.

Some of us are lucky and know what we want to do 'when we grow up' and some of us do not. Laura thought she knew what she wanted to do for quite a while, and it is so interesting to see what she thought she wanted to do never went the way she expected it to...and you know what? That's okay because you may just find something so much better than you bargained for. You can read Laura's blog 'Learning from Sophie' here. Thank you friend!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Blog Series: Alex

I hope you have all had a good week so far and I hope to give you a mid-week treat with a good read from Alex. Alex's blog was one of the first I started religiously reading! Alex is studying in the world of engineering and in all honesty I find it pretty fascinating what she has to say. Simply, because my idea of engineering is totally different to what I thought it was before reading this. I think you will too :)

Hello, blog world! My name is Alex, and I come to you from my blog, Only Human. First off, I'd like to thank Becca for the opportunity to guest blog. She's pretty fantastic, no? :)

I come to you from the land of Oz (aka, Kansas) and I'm currently finishing up a double major in chemical engineering and biochemistry. The reaction I usually get to that statement is along the lines of, "Oh, wow. So you're pretty smart then?" To which I respond, "Nope, that's just what they want you to think."

One thing you'll hear anyone who knows anything about any field of engineering, is that you have to love math and science. I can report that this is completely true. 

Exhibit A: One of my homework problems from my Transport Phenomena class. (Please excuse my tiny handwriting)

And Exhibit B: A graph from my latest lab report on the thermal conductivity of solids.

Don't worry, it confuses me too. There's a rumor that math used to involve numbers. I can't recall. ;)

One great thing about chemical engineering, besides the amount of math, is that the education you receive in college gives you a broad base that allows you to work in many different fields. You find chemical engineers in the petroleum field, the pharmaceutical field, working with plastics, in companies like Proctor & Gamble, or even in breweries. We can do anything from making beer, to optimizing fluid flow through pipes, to research and development, to creating entire plants for companies. Crazy students go to grad school.

Even crazier students go to medical school.

Me, though? I'm heading to the industry after I graduate. I've decided my interest lies in the pharmaceutical and medical industries. As someone who has a disease that requires daily medication, I understand the need for drugs, and the even greater need for new medications for certain conditions. In the pharmaceutical industry, chemical engineers can be found manufacturing drugs, monitoring the chemical reactions taking place, watching how much heat is given off or taken in, and monitoring the side reactions, among other things. We like to make sure things don't blow up. Or, if they do, how to fix them.

In the medical field, and up-and-coming field is biomedical engineering. These engineers do a lot of reserach and development for making new medical devices, prostheses, artificial organs, and things of that sort. Last year I did a research paper on a device called the PediaFlow that a group of biomedical engineers in Pennsylvania are working on. It's a ventricular assist device for infants and toddlers with congenital heart diseases. Currently, there are very few devices available for kids that small. The PediaFlow is a completely implantable device that is largely based on magnetism, and is the size of a AA battery, It's a truly remarkable device that could completely change how kids with congenital heart diseases are treated.


Personally, I chose the field of chemical engineering because of my love for math, science, and helping people. But, being an engineer is more than just that, you also have to be able to communicate well with others. There is a lot of work with inanimate objects and equations. Being able to translate that information to other people is essential. I have always been fairly shy and not at all confident in the work I do. That's slowly changing the closer I get to graduating. 

Don't get me wrong... there are days I feel like crying in a corner, days I seriously consider switching majors, and days I feel like the only thing my education has helped me with is playing Angry Birds. But the feeling I get when I hand in a well written report, or when I really understand what it is that is going on, is amazing. And I know the feeling I'll get when I achieve something during my "big person" job will be 10x as amazing.

I hope I haven't scared off any potential engineers. I remember recently reading that chemical engineers are some of the happiest people with careers. Probably 'cause they're not in college anymore. Just kidding. Mostly. College is tough, but the work will be amazing.

That was a lot of talk for a numbers person. But I'd once again like to thank Becca for having me, and I hope I didn't bore you all to death. Chemical engineers think we're pretty cool... but sometimes that's hard to get across. :) Much love to all!

You can find Alex's blog over at Only Human here. Thank you sweet girl!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Blog Series: Steph

I am so excited to introduce my first guest poster on my Career series. Steph and I have "known" each other for a couple of years now and I quite simply adore her. I swear she is my twin, we think and feel the same thing on so many levels. Take it away friend...

When Becca asked me to be a guest poster, I was ecstatic!  When she told me I would be blogging about my profession, I was even more thrilled.  You see, I'm a registered nurse, and I am 100% in love with my job.  I was more than happy to write a blog post about my journey to becoming an RN...I love sharing my passion for nursing with others!

I knew from the time I was a little girl that I wanted to be a nurse when I "grew up."  My mom was a nurse, so not only did I grow up hearing stories of her adventures but I also saw her incredible passion for her profession.  I knew in my heart that I was meant to be a nurse; nothing made me happier than caring for people during their most difficult moments.

The road to RN, however, wasn't so easy.  Nursing school in America can be difficult to get in to, so it is important to be a strong student, both in high school and your first year of college/university.  Luckily for me, I was both and gained advanced acceptance into a bachelor's of science nursing program.  Nurses in America have two common routes to take to become a registered nurse: an associates (2 year) degree or a bachelors (4 year) degree.  Both degrees make you eligible to become an RN, but I chose the four year track because I wanted to leave my options open for furthering my education down the road.

To be completely honest, nursing school was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life!  The pre-requisites, like anatomy & physiology, chemistry, and microbiology, were difficult enough; however, when I was actually into my nursing classes, I realized what hard really was.  Juggling classwork with homework was bad enough, but when my clinical rotations started, I was running on empty.  I would be in the hospital for eight hours, learning hands-on skills, then go back to the university for another 2-3 hours of homework and group projects.  So many times, I wanted to throw in the towel and say "That's it...I don't have what it takes to be a nurse!!"  Thankfully, I had a great group of nursing friends who encouraged me and a supportive family who kept me going.

With a lot of hard work (and many, many tears along the way), I graduated in August of 2010 with my BSN (bachelor's of science in nursing) degree!  The feeling of accomplishment was something words cannot even describe; walking across the stage to accept my degree was my proudest moment to date.  Once graduation was over, however, the real work started...studying for the NCLEX. 

NCLEX is the board exam all nursing school graduates must take before receiving the title of RN.  It's a computerized test that decides if you earn the title of Registered Nurse or not.  I studied hard, reviewing material from all four years of school for hours each day.  When my test day finally arrived, I was incredibly nervous, but I kept a level head and left the testing center feeling fairly confident, but still nervous.  The two day wait for my results was killer, but when I checked the licensing website and saw my name (with an RN license number next to it), I screamed and immediately called my boss to share the good news.

I was lucky enough to have a job as a student nurse extern during school; I worked at a cardiac hospital on the open heart recovery unit (SICU, or surgical intensive care).  Thankfully, there was an RN position open for me when I graduated, so the transition from SNE to RN wasn't as difficult as it could have been.  I was familiar with the type of patients we cared for, as well as the surgeons and physicians, so it was easier to make the leap to RN.  My orientation was 10 weeks long, during which time I worked with an experienced nurse to help me learn the ropes.  Once ten weeks was over, I was officially working night shift on my own and taking two critically ill patients by myself.

A typical night for me looks something like this, depending on the types of patients we have and how unstable they are: I arrive at 6:30pm to get report from the day shift nurse and look up information on my patient(s).  Since I work ICU, we only take 2 patients because they're so ill and need closer monitoring.  My shift officially starts at 7pm, so I immediately head in to my patient's rooms and introduce myself, giving them a quick "look over" to make sure they're stable at the moment.  During the course of my 12 hour shift, I do 3 assessments, which means I listen to lungs, heart, check IVs and other monitoring lines, etc.  Once my first assessment is done on both of my patients (usually by 9pm or so), I sit down to chart and look over my orders from the doctors to make sure I am completing everything required to keep my patient stable overnight.  The rest of the night involves paging physicians for issues that may arise, answering call lights, keeping caught up on charting, drawing labs, adjusting IV drips to keep blood pressures where they need to be, and many other tasks.  My shift is over at 7am when day shift arrives, so I give report to the oncoming nurse, make sure I've completed all my tasks for the night, and then hit the road!

Due to the nature of the patients I care for, my job can be very stressful.  Fresh open heart surgery patients are very unstable and can "crash and burn" within seconds.  I have to use critical thinking skills to figure out what's wrong with my patient and what I can do to "fix" them again.  Sometimes emergencies happen and that's when I have to use my quick thinking (and the help of my coworkers) to keep my patient alive.  CPR is an unfortunate part of my job; I've spent many a night doing chest compressions on a patient whose heart has stopped and needs resuscitation.  However, the great thing is that most of my patients recover fully and go on to live many more years of high-quality life, which is something I'm very thankful for .

Despite the stress, I am completely and utterly in love with my career.  I am so glad I am an RN; it's my passion and my heart!  Becoming a nurse has changed nearly every aspect of my life for the better; I'm more compassionate and less judgmental of others, simply because I've cared for people from all walks of life and understand that we're all human beings, despite what we look like or where we come from.  I consider myself to be incredibly blessed, because I have a job that allows me to show God's love to people who are on the verge of dying (and also to their families, who are struggle to cope with the stress of critical illness).  My job a ministry, so to speak...I'm just lucky enough that I get paid for it!  Never in a million years did I dream that I would be a cardiac ICU nurse; I always wanted to be a labor & deliver or pediatric nurse.  However, God had other plans and after falling in love with cardiac ICU, I can't imagine being any other kind of nurse.

I wish I could go on all day about my job, but my space is limited.  I hope that this post has helped show a small glimpse of my very specialized part of the nursing profession and why I'm so passionate about what I do.  The great thing about nursing is that there are so many different avenues one can take after obtaining their RN: working in a physician's office, operating room, outpatient clinic, pediatric unit, research, and many many other modalities.  The possibilities are literally limitless!

You can see why I asked Steph to talk about nursing. She rocks at showing just how much of an adventure it really is. You can find Steph's blog 'Plan B' here. Thank you so much lovely lady!

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