Finishing My Degree

The final weeks of my university came up so fast. All of a sudden I had been at university for 3 years; made a lot of friends, absorbed a whole lot about marketing and communications from my lecturers and made the most of opportunities that were available to me as a student. I became the president of the communications club for my final year and through that I gained a lot of experience in organising events and gained insights into the working world of communications careers.

It is quite a daunting thought to know that the way of living you have known for a significant portion of your life is now over and life as you know it will change forever! The end of an era! In saying that it is also extremely exciting; like beginning a new adventure.

Looking back at my time at university I am grateful to all those in my life that helped me gain as much as possible from my studies. Lecturers, my bosses and workmates, industry professionals, and classmates all offered their own advice or assistance and were part of my journey being a student which helped me to make the most of the opportunities that were around – even if I didn’t see them as opportunities initially.  Meeting such a variety of people who all have different ways of studying, opinions on subjects and levels of academic learning gave me amazing insights into how people work and what works for me. During this time I learnt an incredible amount about myself, my abilities and the potential I have. By studying I learned different skills including time management, working with a variety of people, expectations from others in all different aspects of my life and how to create a good work life balance. I found it very important especially as the assignments were bigger and worth more that I set aside “me” time, where I could just watch a movie or go out to dinner with friends and not feel guilty for not using that time to study. I am the kind of person who likes to say “yes” often. Yes I can run that club, yes I can manage that sports team, yes I can work part time, yes I can study full time, yes I can look after children and pets, yes I can fit in time with my friends. So many YES’s that it took me a while (and someone blatantly telling me) to realise that it is okay and sometimes preferable for both parties to say NO!

In reflection the main learning’s I have from my university days (at this stage) are:

1. Work/life/study balance is extremely important. Make the time to spend with your friends and family/pets without distractions, when you study – make sure it is effective; minimise procrastination. Work when you can and learn as much as you can from your workmates – they will help you when it comes to the real world and working full time – whether it’s simply as a referee on your CV or networking to get you a job, or making suggestions on how you could use your degree and work experience to create a career – other people see and think very differently so always be open to hearing their thoughts.

2. Take as many opportunities as you can (without overloading yourself). Being a student is a huge advantage when it comes to opportunities and networking. People love to help you when you are showing initiative and helping yourself. The more events you can attend, clubs you can be part of, and people you can meet the better off you are – these people all have knowledge and wisdom that could help you in any aspect of your life in the future so be sure to build networks and keep in contact – don’t burn any bridges! Even you fellow classmates could be in a position that could be beneficial to your family or career in the future so keep your options open. My mum always said ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and the older I get the more I realise that is completely true! So network your heart out – practice and learn how to do it well, it will put you in good stead for the rest of your life!

3. Become friendly with your lecturers and tutors. As well as building them into your network, this is helpful during your years at uni, as I mentioned earlier – people are happy to help when they see you are helping yourself. If you show you are trying and interested in the paper then lecturers and most tutors will go above and beyond to help you when you ask. If you never come to class and are always late handing in assignments there is a very minimal chance you will get a grace period, even if your car really did “break down” on the day of your presentation. I was lucky enough to get extensions on a few assignments because I knew the lecturers well and was attending events that were assisting my studies and benefiting my career possibilities. The lecturers wouldn’t have thought twice about giving me a fail if I hadn’t been an “active participant” in my own learning. (I’ve seen it happen to others who don’t care and are of the mindset that ‘C’s get degree’s”. Well they may get a degree but they won’t help you get a good job,  or a career!

4. Take risks – put yourself in situations that normally would scare you – you never know what you may achieve from it. Of course I mean this in a safe learning environment! For example as an elective paper I took ‘Public Speaking and Professional Speech writing’. I get nervous when I talk in front of people – whether I know them or not, so this was a challenge for me. However, I knew a lot of the other people in the class were feeling the same and I figured that it would be a good way to learn techniques of how to prepare speeches effectively, and deal with nerves in a tough environment so when it came to doing it in a job (for example if I needed to pitch to a client) I would have these skills to call upon. Interestingly enough I found this paper was helpful in preparing for interviews and talking to the interviewer as it is somewhat a practiced speech, just occasionally the questions are worded differently. This speech class also made me feel more comfortable and in control when I was cold calling companies to organise trips for my club and when I had to speak at our AGM and other events.

5. Grammar is key. This not only helps you get better marks in your assignments, but also makes you look professional in other areas of your life. It definitely improves the chances of your CV being considered when applying for jobs too. Spelling is a personal pet hate of mine and I happen to notice it everywhere – on websites, even in books I read (which I thought had their own editor + computers these days have spell checkers!), the worst is from schools of education though – you think that if they are going to teach you then they would at least be able to spell properly! I can’t understand how someone can grade you on grammar and spelling when their own instructions have errors in it… Writing, grammar and spelling – learn how to do it well was the advice I received from every communications professional I visited throughout my time with MCSA. So take the time to edit and proof-read, you will be surprised at how much you notice after even just an hour of not working on an assignment and for this reason…

6. Be prepared – start assignments early. As early as you can write a mind map (brainstorm), do your first draft, second draft, third draft and final draft. Then take a look at the difference in quality between your first and final pieces – you will see the effort that went in pays off in the end. Also pay attention to the marking schedule – lecturers use this as a guide, so to ensure you are answering the right questions use this as your guide. Trust me it makes a huge difference and the lecturers will notice, both if you have or haven’t used it.

To conclude – finishing university is bittersweet. I am no longer a “poor” uni student, however, with that I now have a much stricter daily schedule and less “holidays”. I enjoyed my time being a university student and all the experiences and friends/networks I built during my time studying. I am also extremely excited as my hard work for the last 3.5 years paid off; the piece of paper telling me I had completed my degree and could now apply to graduate (and the one saying I had been accepted to graduate) came in the mail – so it’s official, I have a degree!! I also got offered a full-time permanent job which I start on Monday – the first step in my career and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. So while I am going to miss the lifestyle of a student, I am looking forward to being a “grown up” in the real workforce.

Degree: Check

Degree: Check

I hope that my advice helps, and I would love to hear if you have any of your own to add!

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Fieldays 2014

This year was my first time working at the field days at Mystery Creek. For those of you who haven’t been before this is a big event (in NZ standards) that attracts over 120,000 people each year to look at farming equipment. It has expanded into luxury items for the farmers wives so they can enjoy coming to the field days too.

Like I said, this year it was my first time working there – I thought it would be a good way to make some money in between university finishing and finding a full time job. I actually got a lot more out of this job than I was expecting. I learnt some sales skills, sold a new product (the eye massager!), met a lot of great people and was absorbed into culture that is Fieldays.

I am a people person so the highlight of this event for me was meeting so many people from different stalls; people from all over NZ had come to showcase their products. I was selling the Eye Massager, a first time product in NZ, across from my stall was one of three Ruahini port stands and around the corner was possom boots, and NewGen liquorice. During the course of the week I managed to talk to these stand owners along with a variety of others.

The Ruahini port is made from fresh fruit and is unlike any other port you have tried! They had plum, blueberry, boysenberry, blackberry and cherry flavoured port, along with port sippers (which work the opposite to wine glasses – wine likes to be aerated while port tastes better if it is sipped from the bottom) that looked to me like a cats body and the sipper is the tail!

Ruahini port sipper fieldays 2014

Ruahini port sipper

Other than the actual quality of the product (coming from someone who didn’t like port – I am now in love with these flavoured ports!), the best part about the Ruahini team is their passion for their company and their team. Damon is the creator/port maker and he ooozes love for the entire process and every person that has helped him on the journey. The whole teams passion was infectious, their stalls did extremely well and I believe part of that is because they have the stories to back up every part of their company. Alisha – Damons wife – is the artist who created the animal paintings that are a strong part of their brand and are on each port label.

Ruahini port fieldays 2014

Plum & Boysenberry ports

The reason I enjoyed this Fieldays so much is because I was surrounded mostly by NZ business owners who had put their life into their products and were extremely proud to share their stories and any advice – which to a young uni graduate is super exciting and helpful! Of course along with the stall owners, I talked to a tonne of customers who tried out the Eye Massager – when you love people and love talking this is a great job!

The Eye Massager sounds strange however, it is an amazing product; it uses air pressure to target acu-pressure points around your face. I used it at least once every day and boy, does it relax you! Keep an eye out for these products!! They are worth every cent.

Eye Massager Fieldays 2014

Eye Massager

Eye Massager set-up fieldays 2014

Eye Massager set-up

 

 

That was just a quick recap on my first experience working at Fieldays 2014 and why I would recommend it to any student. It is a fantastic ground to network with a large variety of people and you never know where one conversation may lead in your future!

Hiatus – I’ve been on a break

You may have noticed the lack of posts recently…I have been on a break from blogging as I have just finished University classes and have finally reached the end of my degree. I have been dedicating all my spare time to completing my final assignments, studying for exams, and looking for a full time job. This is a busy time so I would just like to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you I’m just on a temporary hiatus!

I have a few ideas in the pipe lines for my next posts so bear with me and when I get a spare moment I will share all my adventures over the past few weeks with you!

 

Hearty Lentil Casserole

I am trying to be more creative with the meals that I cook, using healthy recipes.

Today’s experiment was a vegetarian lentil soup, I got the recipe from my sister who has started cooking from the Revive Café cookbook edition 2 recently and raves about it.

Hearty lentil casserole

pre cooking lentil casserole

Hearty Lentil Casserole 
 
Makes 10 one cup servings
2 Medium carrots, diced
1 zucchini (courgette) sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 potates cubed
1 large onion diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped/crushed
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup (brown) lentils
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
4 cups water
3 tablespoons honey (or date puree)
1 teaspoon salt
2x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
To garnish: finely chopped parsley
 In a large pot, sautee the carrots, zucchini, celery, potato, onion, garlic and oil for 5 minutes or until soft.
  1. Add the lentils, mixed herbs and water and cook on medium heat for around 25 minutes or until soft .
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with rice.
Hearty lentil casserole

Hearty lentil casserole

 

This is a delicious recipe to keep you warm in the coming Winter months. I found the mixed herbs combined with tomato flavour absolutely amazing. I am looking forward to making this again with other combinations of vegetables as substitutions to create a  new dish.

I would love to hear how your version turns out.

Volunteering at Tough Mudder NZ

I LOVE volunteering!
Why do I love it? Well like Booker T. Washington says “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else”.  It’s not that I do it to make myself feel better, it just so happens that when you help others it is a natural repercussion that you do feel better about yourself, your life, and those around you. I love meeting new people and getting to know them, even if it is just a quick hello in the street or high 5 as they run past with a smile on their face, I know that what I am doing has an impact on their lives whether big or small. Interestingly enough there is a TED talks video I watched recently about “Lollipop moments” which talks about exactly that. Those moments, that to you may be a simple gesture and you forget about tomorrow, may mean the world to someone else or create a drastic change in their lives. Here is the link to the clip if you are interested in watching further.
My latest volunteering experience was at Tough Mudder in Auckland on Anzac weekend. Abbey (my sister) and I had both put our names down to volunteer on the Saturday and Abbey was running it on the Sunday. Unfortunately I am still recovering from an ankle injury so didn’t want to risk it getting worse by running the course. Being a close family like we are, mum had come down to drive us to and from the event, it just so happened there was space for her to volunteer on the Saturday (AND Sunday) as well. Getting up at 4am on a pitch black cold and frosty morning was the hardest part! Once we put all our gears on and got on the road we forgot how early it was an started to feel the anticipation of what was waiting for us. This was the first time the Tough Mudder had been run in NZ so other than USA course Youtube video’s we really didn’t know what to expect.
 
Breakfast panini at Tough Mudder New Zealand

Tough Mudder panini

NZ Tough Mudder Volunteer t-shirt

Mum sporting her volunteer t-shirt

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 After an hour of driving we reached Hampton Downs raceway. It was a lot bigger than I had imagined, and there were already a lot of volunteers there getting amped for the day. We wandered on inside and registered for the day, picking our stations – Abbey and I started on a water station, and mum was delegated to the next free obstacle which happened to be the Electric Eel! We were given our bright orange t-shirts and a delicious bacon and egg breakfast panini then grouped outside for our briefing. Each station was allocated little boxes with radios, maps and instructions for set up, then we were driven off to our separate locations.
 
Tough Mudder NZ water station

Abs manning our water station

Tough Mudder NZ Water Station

Tough Mudder water station

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 As Abbey and I were on water station 5 (at the 14km mark) it meant the first hour was down time (apart from the one super speedy guy who finished the course in 1.5hours!!!), so we made friends with the couple who were in the High Five zone next to us and jumped in on high fiving everyone who ran past. This is where our enthusiasm began! My sister is a naturally loud person so she was shouting “woohoo” and getting really into it from the first group who ran through. This put me in a great cheering mood too; I managed to get both hands muddy pretty quickly and somehow got a few photos in!
Tough Mudder NZ Hi five zone

Hi five zone

Tough Mudder NZ Hi five

Giving out Hi fives

 
 
 
 
 
 
Tough Mudder NZ Hi 5

More Hi five’s

The next four hours were spent at our water station, initially we had the tables set up with empty water cups, then we though it’d be nicer if we filled the cups so the runners didn’t have to stop and get the taps all muddy. After a few groups came through though we realised there were too many runners and not enough time to fill all the cups, so we resorted to holding two piles of stacked cups on the side of the path and handing them out as the runners went past. This worked like a charm and gave us more time and energy to be support every runner and yell out positive comments to on coming groups. This was my favourite part of the day; seeing each person light up when they saw us, and smiling or commenting back when we encouraged them!
 We were allowed to swap to volunteer on obstacles, however after having a walk around some at lunch time we decided we were quite happy with our little motivational water station set up! We got a chance to chat to some of the mudders while they were filling up their water and having that personal connection with each one as they came past was what made our day. We went home buzzing from the enjoyment of having helped make the event a success and keeping people’s spirit’s up. Water station 5 was the last water stop for the final 6k’s of the course so we had the most important job (in our own minds anyway!)
Tough Mudder NZ tyre obstacle

Tough Mudder NZ tyre obstacle

Tough Mudder NZ Mud Mile obstacle

The Mud Mile

Tough Mudder NZ Electro Shock Therapy obstacle

“Electro shock therapy”

The event organiser’s were fantastic, especially Chris (our zone leader) and Stormy, they made the extra effort of going around every single volunteer and thanking them personally for helping make the event go so well. Along with our delicious breakfast panini’s, and our bright orange volunteer shirts, they also gave us a yummy lunch (filled roll, Moro bars and bananas!) and a free Export Citrus beer at the end of the day (I don’t normally drink beer as I can’t stand the flavour, however this citrus one was delicious and it’s a very low percentage too – the perfect girly beer!).
Tough Mudder NZ volunteers

Covered in mud at the end!

So we helped out and were spoiled with much appreciation and thanks (surprisingly a lot of Mudders said their thanks mid course, and even after the finish line came up especially to say thank you). This is exactly why I LOVE volunteering, it might not mean much to us (although we had a great time), to just one Mudder it could have been the difference between stopping and carrying on. You don’t know who or when, and that’s half the fun, it makes you determined to do a great job just for the chance there will be that one “lollipop moment” in someone’s life.
 

Opals Doggie Day Out

Yesterday I took Opal to doggie heaven on earth – also known as Days Park in Hamilton, or Opals Wonderland.

Entrance to Days park, Hamilton

Entering Days Park, Hamilton

Opal at Days Park, Hamilton

My princess in Wonderland

Waiting to run free at Days park

Waiting to run free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Days park is an amazing area where dogs can roam off leash through a huge park filled with trees, bush walks and can even frolic in the river.
Autumn trees at Days park

Autumn trees at Days park

The rock at Days park

Opals favourite rock at Days park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
This is Opal’s FAVOURITE place and every time we start to drive down River road she gets really excited and can’t wait to race off into Wonderland. There are a variety of nice paths to walk around – the top loop takes about 20 minutes at a casual pace, there are many shortcuts down to the river side walks, and a huge drive way at the entrance that leads down to the river too. It is quite a nice place for owners to relax, with picnic tables and chairs that have been donated by families of those who have passed on and want others to enjoy the park as much as they did.
Opal in the Waikato River

Opal in the Waikato River

Dogs at Waikato River

Dogs playing in the river

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I usually take Opal here on a Sunday as it is the most time I have to just let her play and relax without being on a schedule. We always meet different people and a wide variety of dogs and puppies in Opals Wonderland. Most dogs like to play and they can chase each other for miles, or race each other to the stick in the river. It is such an amazing place, our dogs are so lucky that the council has grounds like this they can roam free and play to their hearts content.
Dogs at Days park

Making friends at days park

Days park riverside walkways

Days park riverside walkways

Sunshine at Days park

Opal enjoying the sunshine

Beautiful backdrop of Days park

Beautiful backdrop of Days park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is my favourite place too, it always helps me relax as I am surrounded by nature (it is a very picturesque environment) and the most loving creatures on earth (DOGS of course!). As well as being a great bonding time with Opal, I also find it takes me away from reality just watching the dogs enjoy the simple things like discovering new smells in every inch of the park, stopping to greet every dog and human they pass and getting pats galore!
The rock at Days park

Opals favourite rock at Days park

Finding new smells at Days park

Exploring new smells

Taking in the view at Days Park

Taking in the view

One of the chairs donated to Days park

One of the chairs donated to Days park

A lovely walkway at Days park

A lovely walkway at Days park

Another pathways at Days park

Another pathway at Days park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Through the different seasons you get to see the trees in bloom, watch their leaves change colour and drop, see the river rise and fall and see what shapes it leaves behind. In the summer you also see a lot of rowing crews and water skiers enjoying the river and runners making the most of natures pathways.  Each trip here always reminds me how beautiful our country is and that we really do need to step back and (like the dogs) take the time to notice the small things that make the difference to our every day lives.

Twenty Wishes for 2014

This is my first link up party so I am starting off lightly with 20 wishes for 2014 as opposed to each month.
 
My Twenty wishes are:
1. Read 12 (non-uni) books 
2. Have a skiing weekend at the mountain
3. Attend a blogging meet up
4. Increase to two blog posts a week
5. Create a new meal from a healthy recipe every month
6. Take up dancing lessons 
7. A random act of kindness every week
8. Learn a new photoshop skill each month
9. Visit a family member in the south island
10. Go rock climbing
11. do a horse trek on a beach
12. Go ice skating
13. make home made bread 
14. Go sky diving in Taupo
15. Graduate university
16. Successfully grow some vegetables
17. Get a facial
18. have a date weekend with my man
19. Volunteer at a non-for profit organisation
20. sort out storage
 
So that’s my beginners list. Let’s see how we go!
 

Your 2014 hostesses are…

Kassi & Kayli @ Truly Lovely