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Had a brainwave? Feeling inspired?

Have you ever had a great idea for a new product or service? Curious about how to make it a reality?

Entrepreneurs often start by identify a problem in the world around them and finding a solution. Rather than hand the idea over to someone else, they make a business out of it, learning how to navigate the legal and financial pathways to forming and establishing a business.

There are different types of business and your idea may be best developed into a limited company. Or, if the motivation behind the business is less about maximising profit and more about improving society, then a social enterprise may be the right model for you.

Learning about how to work smarter is important for freelancers, too, where your skills, knowledge and service are what the business is about.

The starting off point for all is the development of a Business Plan, where you set out a summary of what your business is about, how you are going to finance it and how you will take it to market.

Around 12% of the UK working population is self-employed. This varies from sector to sector, with over 40% of those in the Creative Industries being self-employed (often freelance or in very small organisations, and part time, alongside other employment).
If you think being self-employed is for you, don’t be daunted – there is lots of free advice and support around for students and new graduates in Scotland.

Here are a couple of good starting off points:
The Scottish Institute for Enterprise runs regular competitions for Scottish students. Fresh Ideas is a monthly competition where you’ll have the chance to win a cash prize to help you develop your idea into a real business venture. If you already have a well-developed business idea or have launched a new business or social enterprise, then you can enter the New Ventures competition. Submit by January 2015 and you could win up to £10,000!

The Cultural Enterprise Office offer advice to individuals and businesses in the creative sector and manage Starter for 6 which is an enterprise training programme for creative entrepreneurs.

Here are some links for more information:
http://www.sie.ac.uk – Scottish Institute for Enterprise – enterprise support for university students in Scotland
http://www.culturalenterpriseoffice.co.uk – information and advice service for creative practitioners in Scotland

http://www.princes-trust.org.uk/need_help/regions_and_countries/scotland/youth_business_scotland.aspx – Youth Business Scotland (formerly Princes Youth Business Trust) – advice on business planning and finance for 18 – 30 year olds (see website for eligibility criteria).

Happy International Students Day

internatTo celebrate International Students Day, we asked for a guest blog from one of our International Students, to tell our readers about their experience of studying and working at UWS…

I have been a full-time Mechanical Engineering student at UWS since last four years and as a non-European international student, I have enjoyed every day of it. I have lived in the University’s accommodation and the staff and faculty couldn’t have been more helpful from the very first day. It also helped me enhance some of my skills like being able to do tasks at my own initiative, have met and socialised with people with almost all corners of the world and have learnt about different cultures and countries.

I am also a part of the amazing Student Ambassador team of the University. The job provides me opportunity to develop my communication skills and a chance to help others every day. Also, since I’m passionate about UWS, it allows me to do something beneficial for the University and fits perfectly around classes.

This year as an undergraduate student, I have got a chance to do a fairly costly research project which is funded by The Royal Society of London under the supervision of University’s very experienced Lecturers. We have done a lot of practical work at UWS and I can see myself applying the knowledge from them in my near future.

Hence, I am very proud that I chose University of the West of Scotland a place for my higher Education.

Ramender Kwatra

 

Lorna’s new “little sisters” from the magical Echo Lake Road

Lorna’s new “little sisters” from the magical Echo Lake Road

Driving through the gates on Echo Lake road was something which I had been dreaming about since my Summer ended in 2013. The day had now arrived and 12 months after I first step foot into Camp Vega, I was finally back to live my life to the full. The beauty of this place is just breath-taking and even now, yet still it amazes me every single day that I spend there. There are a few organisations out there, but I just cannot thank AmeriCamp enough for making my dreams come true. I was just so glad that I had chosen the right company when choosing what everyone refers to as “camp America”.

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My normal life compared to camp life just isn’t the same and I now live by the motto “10 for 2”, you live 10 months for the two months of the summer where you are back at your summer home, and Vega is most definitely my Summer home. There was no doubt in my mind that I would return for 2014 and the same goes for summer camp America 2015. The excitement and craziness of opening day is something which you won’t forget and you know then it is the start to the most amazing summer!

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There is never a dull day at camp, from everyday activities, whether that be in the Arts and Crafts department; to lazy Sunday’s, where Olympic events take place, to everything in between each day is better than the next. The traditions that are within a camp gives them their own uniqueness and Camp Vega has plenty of them! From Olympic events to Marathon to Sunset Circle, Vega’s are special to every person on camp; to be part of the traditions makes you a part of their history.

Also I was a bunk counsellor as well as being in art and crafts and this was the most rewarding aspect about camp. The age group I was put in was inters (11-12 years old) in summer 2013 and followed them up to seniors (12-13 years old). They were the 11 little sisters that I never had. Not only did I get to experience the extraordinary world again this summer I am lucky enough to have made the best friends that will last for a lifetime; they are not just your friends they become your family.
Vega is my summer home and 10 for 2 is my motto! Without AmeriCamp this would have never been possible, so if anyone is having any doubts about doing AmeriCamp I could not recommend it enough! Get applying and 100% choose AmeriCamp; it is the most amazing experience you will ever have and get the most money… and biscuits of course!

BUNAC – Work America by Sarah Beamish

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This summer, I was paid to work outside in the beautiful countryside of rural Maryland, USA and went to the USA with a work and travel company called BUNAC. Although working at a kennel did mean I scooped a lot of poop, I also made life-long friendships with some amazing Americans, visited 6 different states (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and New York!), got into a pool every day after work, visited 3 different beaches, and ticked multiple landmarks off my bucket list! I can honestly say that being able to work on my tan, socialise with new friends and pet, play with and walk some cute dogs was not a shabby way to spend my summer.

BUNAC enabled me to find my own job in the States, and that meant I could work with my best friend who I’ve known for over 4 years! Being able to spend 3 months with a person I usually only speak to on Skype and see rarely? Priceless! Working in Maryland meant I was a stone’s throw away from America’s capital, Washington DC and I saw so many landmarks that I’d only ever seen before on television, like the Washington Monument, the White House (Hello, President Obama!) and the Capitol Building. DC also boasts amazing free museums, including the Natural History Museum which allows you a cheeky look at where one of the Night at the Museum movies was filmed. Living in Maryland meant all of this was easily accessible, and really cheap to get to by the MTA Metro.

Through working at a kennel, I gained a wide skill set that has meant I’ve been able to expand my CV since I’ve been home. From basic pet care to more advanced animal handling. I was also given the opportunity to lead a team of co-workers and organise various schedules. Through being able to try everything and anything meant my Work America experience helped me to gain more confidence, some rare skills I never thought I’d learn and also have enormous amounts of fun every day. The job never got boring, and also allowed for a lot of free time for travel and exploring.

Along with visiting DC, I travelled the East Coast of the USA after I had finished my time at Shady Spring. This meant I visited everything from Amish Farmer’s Markets in Pennsylvania to the bright lights of New York City. The ability to have such contrasting experiences on one trip and to live in the USA meant that when I left the UK that dark, rainy day in May, I didn’t leave home, I just found another one. BUNAC helped me so much along the way, from getting my visa to 24 hour support while I was out there. I really gained summer experience which has helped me immensely in my future, and would happily go again!

BUNAC 1 BUNAC 2

Camp Leaders – The best job you’ll ever have. by Nicole Forbes

Spend the summer working in an American summer camp with Camp Leaders.

As an organisation, Camp Leaders send people from all over the world, to work at camps in America. So far they have sent over 50,000 people to 500 summer camps in all 50 states – pretty amazing, right?

If you’re interested in becoming a lifeguard, camp counselor, activity specialist, or support staff, we have a vast amount of jobs to suit your interests. Not only will your job be fantastic, but you’ll also have the opportunity to travel around the US after camp with all the new friends you have just made. When you’re home, you can add that you now have international work experience with an American employer on your CV (Camp Leaders Summer Camp Jobs are recognised by 95% of employers) and then you’ll really stand out from the crowd. In my most recent interview, my employer mentioned that he was extremely impressed by my summer camp experience as it shows I have the ability to challenge myself, I can adapt to new situations and be extremely flexible – top qualities that employers look for.

I worked at camp for 3 summers as a counselor, assault course instructor, archery instructor, nature teacher and special needs coordinator. Every summer, I gained 700 hours of coaching and teaching experience working with the children. At my camp, we would pick up our campers in Seattle on a private ferry at the start of every session to take them to camp and then we would have a 2 hour boat party on the way back to camp. It was incredible watching the sunrise over the city on our journey back to camp. My absolute favourite day had to be the 4th of July. On this day the atmosphere at camp was incredible and we spent the night watching the firework displays throughout the island, we also witnessed an orca whale swim by camp which was truly breathtaking. Or even on overnight camping trips, the time was spent singing songs around the campfire and roasting s’mores (which are a must-try because they are de-li-cious).

After camp, I travelled to LA to surf on Venice Beach, visited San Francisco to cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge, swam with dolphins in Florida, climbed mountains in Montana, road tripped to Canada, line danced in Idaho, explored the music scene in Seattle and Oregon, spent weekends in Las Vegas, and watched the sunrise from the top of the empire state building in New York. It truly was the experience of a lifetime and we can help you have this experience to.

Applying to camp through Camp Leaders was really simple and they helped me organise all the important things such as my visa and insurance and were always available to help me with any queries I had. Camp Leaders also paid for my flights as they are included in the initial programme fees, which was fantastic. I also got to live in a really cool cabin at camp and didn’t have to pay for food or accommodation whilst I was there. Finally, I got paid to do a job that I absolutely loved with an amazing bunch of campers and friends, life really doesn’t get any better than camp.

We’ve started hiring already for summer 2015 so apply now to Camp Leaders and we can help you find the best job you’ll ever have!

Check out our website and begin the application for free – http://www.campleaders.com

It’s nearly Christmas….are you commercially aware?

Whether you have hit the high street or searched online for some pre-Christmas bargains, savvy shoppers and retailers are about to enter a manic phase of the year. If your understanding of commercial awareness is related to the best price comparison sites or where to buy the cheapest coffee on campus then you really must read on as this article may just help in your future career!
Employers and Careers Advisers alike will throw back their head and proffer that you must show commercial awareness if you are to stand even the slightest glimmer of hope in the ever competitive graduate employment market. Faced with such an image (admitted a careers adviser with their head thrown back may not be the most intimidating sight you will come across at university) it is not easy to utter the words “but what is commercial awareness?”

Essentially, it can be summarised as an informed knowledge base of an organisation and the sector or environment in which it operates. Depending on the sector in which you are interested, this could involve understanding some of the targets or economics of the organisation, how they are placed in the sector or who the competitors and major players are. It could encompass the wider market in which the organisation operates or an understanding of what the future may hold for that sector for example in terms of change or technological advance. Commercial awareness can also extend to customer or client base, and having a depth of knowledge on trends or issues affecting this group, and of course then being able to relate your graduate attributes and personal knowledge and abilities to show that you are well placed to deliver on the employer demands.

If this all sounds too much and you are already contemplating abandoning your graduate career and returning to find a free delivery code for your holiday purchases, then be aware that help is at hand. The Careers and Employability Service have a range of seminars on campus, online information and offer 1-1 guidance to help in the wider area of graduate job search, which involves the development of commercial awareness, since we would always advise that you research an organisation that you are applying to or are interested in working with.

Broadly, have a look at our literature as well as industry magazines, journals and blogs and certainly the company website. Use social media smartly – research use of LinkedIN or try and follow appropriate Tweets from the company and organisations in the sector, and attend conferences or fairs if appropriate – many can be attended virtually or you can follow Tweets from individuals in attendance or fair organisers which give a real feel of what is going on and can equip you with key sector knowledge. Direct contact (meetings, emails, visits) or experience (placements, internships, volunteering) with organisations can also lead to deeper commercial awareness and should be explored.

So be smart and get commercially aware. You might just grab a bargain AND get ahead in the job market……..

If only Guy Fawkes had visited his careers service……

Long before his failed attempt to blow up the Parliament Building (to kill the king) on the 5th November in 1605, Guy Fawkes was pretty determined about his political and religious stand point. He was also hailed as an intelligent debater who had physical endurance and prowess. This got me thinking, what if he had utilised these skills in another career, used his powers for good rather than evil? Or alternatively, if he was determined on the path to gunfire treason and plot visited his careers service and learned how to train as a more successful demolition expert, or a better project manager? History could be very different and we could be missing out on our yearly fix of pyrotechnics!

The Careers and Employability Service is here to help you with any aspect of your career planning, from writing an effective CV, to making those all important decisions about what path you want to take upon graduation, and what you can be doing along the way to help you achieve your goals. We can help you think about what skills you have and what career these might adapt well to, and unlike a certain Mr Fawkes, we can help you become a success in your chosen path.
So come along and see the Careers and Employability Service at your campus, or make an appointment at the Student Link, and let us help you put a sparkle(r) in your ideas!!

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