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Jacob Montgomery

UCL graduate, tutor, consultant

How to write a History personal statement

I chose a history degree because I didn’t have any clear career goals, and I knew this study would give me the transferrable skills desirable to many employers. It’s no wonder history is the tenth most popular subject to study at degree level in the UK, and competition on courses is fierce. As you most likely won’t get the chance to interview, you have to use your personal statement to stand out from the crowd.

Above all, admissions tutors want to see that you love your subject. Your university tutors will be historians themselves, who want you to be as fascinated with the content as they are. You have to demonstrate your engagement with what you’ve studied. Maybe you’ve volunteered at a museum or historical attraction, voluntarily attended history lectures given by organisations other than your school, taken online courses or written blogs. You should explain what it was about these activities that deepened your interest in history but keep it concise, because this all has to fit into a paragraph.

The second key point is to be original and memorable, rather than vague and generic. You can do this by discussing the conclusion that you personally drew from the books you’ve read. The reason that certain historians have gained attention over the centuries is that they presented an interesting and unique opinion supported by strong evidence and persuasive analysis. You have a paragraph to prove that you have the potential and ability to do this too, so limit your analysis to two books.

You should also spend a paragraph discussing the other A Levels or subjects you’ve recently been studying. Examine what skills you’ve gained from each subject, and how these will be useful in your development as a historian. Again, don’t be vague. You could say, for instance, that geography developed your analytical skills with factual information, and English gave you the opportunity for independent thought. Even the subjects that seem to have little to do with history are important. Your admissions tutors will be delighted if you can also demonstrate how your interest in various subjects intersects with your historical interests. Try to draw links and show how you take insight from a range of perspectives.

Those three paragraphs are essential for giving a flavour of your passions and capabilities. You should also have an introduction to explain why history caught your attention in the first place. Perhaps it was somewhere you travelled, someone you met or something you read. This should be particularly original because it’s personal to you. Avoid making any argument for why history as a study is important in itself. Your admissions tutors hear this all the time, and they already agree with you. You should be talking more about you than the subject.

Your fifth and final paragraph should be very short, summarizing why a degree is so important to you for developing your interests. You may also want to discuss factors that make you stand out as a student, such as your musical or sporting achievements. But these should be limited to only a sentence, and should be linked back with how they’ve boosted your personal and academic development. By now, you should have told a story, making the admissions tutors feel as if your outstanding A Level performance is just the beginning of what you can do.

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6 Reasons why Google is rebranding itself as Alphabet

6 Reasons why Google is rebranding itself as Alphabet

On 10 August the fifth-largest company in the world embarked on the greatest brand change in its history. This was not just a change of font or logo, but a strategic shift in the invisible architecture of the brand. Because we’re talking about Google’s skeleton and not its skin (the Alphabet brand will be visible only to employees and investors, not customers) many marketers did not know how to react.

However, some have snorted that the name ‘Alphabet’ is too generic, unlike ‘Google’, and that the company does not own the web rights or Twitter handles. But these marketers don’t understand the type of brand structure that Google is creating and the fact that it is moving in the opposite direction to the theme of the past decade.

Unlike Coca-Cola this year, Procter & Gamble in 2011 and Unilever in 2004, which have consolidated their brands by moving towards a single ‘branded house’ approach, Google is creating a pure ‘house of brands’ and separating the parts of its architecture.

The point of this approach is that Alphabet is the silent holding company, invisible to the outside world, only relevant to senior employees and investors. Furthermore, the name ‘Alphabet’ was chosen because it means something to the company’s directors. And this leads us into the first reason for the rebranding decision.

‘Alphabet’ just makes more sense

Larry Page, the Google co-founder who is now CEO of Alphabet, explained the decision behind the name. “Alphabet…means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!

The company is now too big for the Google name

The issue of scale is simple. When you start a business (and usually until you exceed £100m in revenues) the bonuses of a single brand far outweigh the disadvantages. The branded house is the de facto approach for new companies due to the single employer brand, senior leadership team, marketing budget and working culture.

But a new level of complexity is introduced when a company becomes as huge as Google. The sheer size and scope of its mission demands a far more efficient and structured approach. And Google’s growth is not just the result of organic profit increases.

Google’s new projects require separate investment

YouTube, Motorola and DoubleClick are just three of nearly 200 acquisitions that Google has undertaken in its lifetime, as the company has reached deep to diversify and expand. It no longer simply organises the world’s information and makes it accessible and useful, to paraphrase its mission statement. It now pours resources into balloon-powered internet access and wearable technology, start-ups and anti-ageing technology, drones and driverless cars.

The new house of brands architecture is a much more suitable structure to buy and sell companies, and will allow these new acquisitions to reach their full potential. Alphabet’s new structure will allow Google to do things in a Google Way and the other hyper-innovative brands like Nest to operate their way. Google will no longer stifle different approaches and organisational sub-cultures. Nor will it have to deal with the internal headaches of integration and immersion into a branded house.
Google’s new projects require protection

Additionally, Google no longer has the glowing reputation it enjoyed when it began life as a search engine 17 years ago. Another strategic advantage is that the parent brand will no longer shadow the consumer perception of the newly acquired entities. If Google continues to be negatively associated with tax evasion, data protection and international secrecy, there will be reduced potential for corporate misdeeds to impact Alphabet’s consumer brands.

Google’s products could use more focus

YouTube is one particular area of the company that, according to analysts, still doesn’t turn a profit. It will earn Google nearly $10bn this year, with brands placing a huge amount of emphasis on the value of advertising through the video network. However, Alphabet will be able to hit it harder for underperformance and push stronger monetisation strategies across the platform.

The future of internal hierarchies

What’s more, the move makes life much easier for Larry Page and his colleagues. They can now move into the offices of the holding company that enables them to maintain all the control they’re used to, with none of the day-to-day responsibilities that most billionaires dread.

It also allows them to think more about succession planning. They’ve created a set of CEOs beneath them from which they can select their eventual replacements. For example, Google will now have its own CEO in Sundar Pichai, who rose up through the Google ranks through his leadership of the Android operating system. He is dedicated to getting the most out of Google’s internet operations and could see a promotion if he does so successfully.

Summary

Overall, Google’s diversification in the last decade has been unpredictable and chaotic, with the company showing none of the clarity of purpose of their Cupertino rivals. But now, with a more suitable organisational structure, further and more diverse acquisitions are possible. Google is now able to keep hold of its many disparate parts, and invest thoroughly in them while maintaining its original components. Google is free to ‘go play’ as it pleases.

What my work experience has taught me about 6 different types of working environments

I’ve done a huge amount of work experience, and there are good reasons for that. Firstly the cruelties of the graduate job market and the fact that I’m going to end up on the dole if I just have a degree like everyone else.

Secondly, my inability to decide what I want to make of my life, with teachers offering little more in the way of help than platitudes such as ‘just do what you enjoy’. They would then give us essays that no one could possibly enjoy, and shoved forms in our faces that asked us to make life choices at the tender age of 16.

So this was when I began doing stuff that would hopefully look impressive on my personal statement to universities. Over the next three years (to the present day) I talked to relatives and friends in different industries, scoured the yellow pages and Google Maps, bombarded local businesses with emails, and secured work placements in several different kinds of offices.

Hopping between different work environments so quickly threw them into stark contrast. I am a frog and the lily pads I’ve jumped on are all very different. I can see why marketers would not be happy in a solicitor’s office. It’s obvious to me why estate agents would not get on with journalists.

Similarly, I’ve come to see why parliamentary workers wouldn’t have much in common with charity workers. Although I probably don’t need to explain that. The rest, however, I will explain, by noting down all the individual peculiarities I’ve noticed about every kind of office.

Marketing

My most recent work experience was in marketing; I was the ‘marketing director’ (as I liked to call myself) of Talent Cupboard, a tech startup that had the advantage of being based in the offices of a marketing agency called Burn.

I sat in this office for what felt like 28 hours a day, 15 days a week, for most of the Sun’s lifespan summer. Kidding, it wasn’t that bad. It was actually the nicest of all working environments, hence why my career goals now well and truly rest in marketing.

Burn was just like Mediacom, a much larger marketing agency, where I shadowed the CFO for a day. This supports my theory that all marketers like the same kind of office. They like the rows of mismatched computers and colourful arrows painted on the walls, which make them feel secure in their belief that they know how to make things look good. They take comfort in the Everest-sized piles of colourful leaflets sent in by previous clients, which remind them of the days when non-digital advertising was relatively important.

Overall, a marketer’s office is full of crap, but well-ordered crap. It wasn’t built to be nice, but it’s painted very well. It’s not a modern building, but has a few high tech features. Like the service that a marketer provides, the office where this is developed is usually a turd, covered in professional glitter.

Law

The solicitor’s office has a far more serious, repressive atmosphere. The professionals are trying to sort people’s lives out and weighed down by the burden of hearing about their problems. The stench of Mrs. Snorveton’s violent divorce is thick in the air. The guilt about over-suing the NHS by £50,000 is like a cold gust coming from reception.

But still, solicitors have a sense of humour. They can crack a joke just like as easily as they can form an argument. The trouble is, they’re so busy talking smoothly that they forget to show any hint of emotion or a smile. This would helpfully let you know they’re trying to be funny so you have to try and laugh.

The solicitor’s desk is overflowing with case summaries and printed screenshots of the abuse that people have hurled at each other on Facebook. Yes, this is now used to help decide the outcome of a face. But the solicitor doesn’t bother much with the paper, leaving that to be filed by either an intern or the equally poorly-paid graduate legal assistant.

Property

Estate agents have to sell very well, but what they’re selling isn’t all that complicated. So they’re usually good fun, good looking and good speakers, but don’t have as much going on between the ears as they’d claim to have.

An estate agent’s office is unique in that it also functions as the space to connect with customers. People come in all the time to discuss what ridiculously overpriced houses are available, and the estate agent has to move quickly from their desk, greet them brightly and make out as if money isn’t an issue for them too.

The office is pretty bare and sterile, with only a few boxes of property leaflets shoved under the desk, and everything ordered neatly for the purpose of good appearances. But photos of houses are the only thing that adds colour to the room. Estate agents don’t want to sell pictures of ships.

Journalism

Journalists, meanwhile, have no time for presentation or appearances. Their desks are like their brains: drowning in research notes, press releases, newspaper cuttings, and letters from everyone they would possibly need to collaborate with in order to research and write an article. The journalist is paid too little and worked too hard to bother with doing a clean, which would allow them to actually see their desks.

But they love their jobs, and that’s why they put up with turd, and feel no need to reach for the glitter. They’re surrounded by people that are as geeky, sparky and as interested in politics as them. A haven of multitasking, the office is filled with snappy yet intelligent conversations. TV screens showing rolling news channels are all adding to the din.

The journalist has a huge computer screen and tweets and extra TV news stories are popping up on there. Newspaper pages are coming together fast. Articles are being verbally pitched. It’s really something to behold. Something which can either inspire you, or make you want to blow your brains out.

Politics

Working at the Houses of Parliament was a one-off, and I didn’t do it because I was intending to become the next Jeremy Corbyn. No, I just thought it would stand out on my CV. And it was certainly weird going to work in one of the oldest and most famous palaces in the world for a week. But for parliamentary assistants and civil servants, of whom there are many, it’s their everyday life, and they take it for granted.

Although their offices aren’t exactly impressive compared to the rooms where MPs hold their debates, there’s still a deep sense of history. The carpets, photo frames, light switches, door handles and views from the window are all throwbacks, to a more gothic, medieval, and simple era, when British politics became democratic. But the walls are white and the facilities bare, as if the whole establishment is awkwardly caught between wanting to stay entrenched in the past yet also accelerate into the future.

The people are all well-spoken and efficient, yet sometimes hollow and reserved. It’s exactly how you’d imagine the elite British establishment to be. They’re intelligent, but not down to earth. Friendly, but hard to relate to.

Charity

And in sharp contrast, there are the charity workers and their offices. These are truly dark, dingy places, bordering on unacceptable working conditions. Thankfully, money goes towards the people that the charity wants to helps. The charity can’t afford to make anything look nice.

There only decoration is some colourful motivational posters sent from the central headquarters, because the charity is, unsurprisingly, keen on keeping people happy and motivated. Many of the workers are volunteers so this is essential.

Like the offices, and because they’re not focused on themselves, the charity’s staff aren’t well presented. They look as poor as the people they’re trying to help, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re not great speakers, but they’re kind, caring, and funny. They keep things organised. They get their heads down and work hard. They understand the meaning of human connections and happiness. Working with the poor has shown them that.

That section, about charity, was the only one not featuring sarcasm. That was honestly the most enlightening and stimulating work experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking to learn the true meaning of hard work and the real world.

10 Online Productivity Tools To Supercharge Your Job Hunt

Productivity tools have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, as app developers have found brilliantly intuitive ways of helping you out with time management. If you experiment and find the mobile and web apps that work best for you, you can genuinely turn your phone into the most useful kind of personal assistant.

A personal assistant is particularly useful during the gut-churning, soul-destroying, motivation-crunching stage of your life when you’re searching for a job. Talent Cupboard has compiled a list of the 10 best productivity tools to get you through the struggle.


Beeminder

If you’re starting to become sluggish in your job search, there’s no better tool to force yourself to stay productive. Sign up to Beeminder and you’ll have stinging consequences for not meeting your goals.

After you fail a goal once you’ll have to start pledging real money to try again. This can obviously be dangerous so you’ll have to be serious about your goals before getting started. You could set yourself the target of applying to a certain number of jobs a day, or writing a specific number of words for application forms.

You could have other goals alongside, such as spending some time browsing job boards, sending out a number of tweets to engage with employers, or finding and going to a networking event twice a week.

The great thing about Beeminder is the detail it gives you in its tracking reports. Programmer and writer Nick Winter pledged over $7,000 to make himself write his book The Motivation Hacker. Fortunately for him, he finished on time.

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Sunrise

Sunrise is more visually appealing than your average calendar app, allowing you to easily organise the lengthy periods of time you’ll spend on your job hunt.

Sunrise syncs with your existing Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange calendars, with background syncing, quick event entry, reminders, time zone support, location tagging and more.

Upcoming meetings and reminders are listed in one easy-to-read interface, which saves having to navigate between segregated calendar and reminders apps like those offered by Apple.

Todoist

To conquer your to-dos, Todoist lets you create projects and add tasks to them, which can then be nested into other tasks, and dragged around the screen to be reordered in the hierarchy.

For example, you can create a project called ‘application for Tesco marketer’, a task called ‘research company culture of marketing division’ and a subtask called ‘find online profiles or statements of students who entered this graduate scheme’. You can colour code your tasks and satisfyingly check off anything that’s done.

Todoist is free to download but getting a premium account will allow you to add notes to tasks, search for tasks, see and filter completed tasks and integrate the deadlines set in Todoist with iCalendar. However, premium is expensive and a free account is already sufficient for staying organised with a job hunt.

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Timeful

A beautifully designed to-do list and scheduling app, Timeful crams in a few more features besides letting you create tasks and lists. The events and tasks you create on Timeful can be synced with your calendars, and colour coded tasks make it very easy to categorise.

Timeful’s best feature is that it allows you to set new ‘habits’ that you want to pick up, complete with recommended duration and scheduling. Like an annoying yet necessary life coach, Timeful learns from your scheduling and automatically helps you to create tasks, learning as you use it more and more.

On your job hunt, It would be beneficial to use this app to schedule how long you’ll spend on each application and on searching for new jobs before taking a lunch break.

Habitica

When stuck at home and facing a continuous stream of rejections over the internet, a job hunt can be hugely demoralising, and may cause you to forget about the basic habits you should be keeping up on a daily basis.

To make sure that you remember to wash your face, floss, do push-ups, take vitamins etc. this app is great for keeping track of those small, annoying habits. Don’t let your job hunt take over your life. Staying healthy will keep you happy and motivated.

Furthermore, Habitica is actually fun to use. You can create and customise an in-game avatar to represent you, and input real life tasks that affect your avatar’s health, experience and gold. These things are boosted when you complete tasks, allowing you to unlock more features and rewards.

Bad habits will drain your health and eventually cause your avatar to die. (Although the real-life experience doesn’t usually escalate that quickly.) Habitica turns your life into a game that almost makes you excited about brushing your teeth.

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Evernote

This is one of the most popular cross-platform note-taking services. The free version lets users take and upload 60MB (per month) worth of notes, pictures, video and audio snippets to be organised into cloud notebooks that can be synced across different devices. Paid accounts allow more options.

Even with Microsoft’s OneNote and Google Keep, Evernote has held its own due to a slick design and great functionality. It’s perfect for tapping in links and phone numbers, to-do lists and half-finished song lyrics, as well as story drafts and personal statements. I’m not exactly an ideas person but after just sixth months I have over 100 notes.

Trello

Freely available on Android and iOS, Trello is a digital bulletin board that allows you and your team (or whoever you add in) to set up anything from tasks, notes, lists and more. The lists are highly customisable and can be filled up with cards, which can include all kinds of content, and can be dragged around all over the place.

All of this can be shared with other users, with provisions for assigning new tasks and adding cards and comments. The neutral and simple design makes it perfect for any kind of organisational task.

You may want to keep track of all the jobs you’ve applied to by using Excel, but this is a more fun and simple way of doing that. You can categorise job opportunities by the status of your application, and you could easily drag around the job ops when the status changes.

You can also compile lists of resources useful for researching the companies, and add images and videos to help you visualise where you could be working. This is a great way of making your job hunt self-motivating and creative.

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Refresh

Refresh is a brilliant iOS app that can be used to ease the whole process of interviewing and networking. Meeting new people can be terrifying, especially when they can influence your career and you don’t know much about them. Using this app can dramatically lower the chances of embarrassing situations in which you appear to not know your stuff.

Refresh will intuitively check your calendar for meetings and use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among other sources, to retrieve background information on the people you’re meeting. It will even remind you when you first met, who may have introduced you and what your key email communications have been.

On top of its beautiful design, it also notifies you of upcoming meetings and tells you to check for its insights on the people you’re meeting. Overall, the app allows you to prepare for meetings in record time.

Dropbox

Arguably the most essential app for anyone with a computer, Dropbox was the main service that gave birth to the cloud storage boom. It keeps your files backed up and synced across all devices, as well as on the web.

You can always log in to Dropbox and send a document to the printer no matter where you typed it out. This document may be a job application, or some research on a company, or some preparation notes for an interview.

To write these effectively, you may want to nab information from previous documents so it’s handy to have everything in one place and readily available. With Dropbox, you’re also less likely to lose documents and to have to re-write stuff if your offline storage screws up badly.

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IFTTT

Even though you’re just sitting down and staring at your phone, with your only physical activity being the movement of your fingers across the screen, it can still be exhausting flicking from app to app. You may waste a great deal of time with repetitive Internet tasks, or going back and forth between E-mail and notes, copying and pasting addresses and hurriedly written cover letters.

IFTTT is the solution. It’s free to download and allows you to automate tasks on your Android and iOS devices. Users can create customised ‘recipes’, or tasks that are built on the command “if this, then that” – hence the name of the app.

You can create your own recipes or use what others have created, such as, ‘build a Twitter List from a specific #hashtag’ or ‘get emails for new posts from any Gumtree search’. You can find the best recipes by looking in featured and trending, and there are also themed collections that you can modify and install.

This can be useful to back up anything you write or send out, or to save any jobs you see advertised. Overall, it means less manual multitasking and a more efficient job search!

What does it really mean to be ‘computer literate’? Here are the IT skills every employer wants.

summer-office-student-work-large

It’s terrifying to examine the ‘what we’re looking for’ section of a job advert. Even for a seemingly casual administration job, the employer requires a 2:1 degree, infinite levels of charisma, and the ability to talk to gorillas. But aside from the ‘required skills’ that make you feel massively insecure, there are some that are just downright confusing. What does it mean, for instance, to be ‘computer literate’?

We’re all tempted to call ourselves the next Bill Gates on our CV. Our ability to multi-task on our phones and personalise our laptops (without reading the instructions!?) can fool us into thinking that we’ve ticked off that box on the job advert. In reality, we literally can’t stroll into the interview like Bill Gates, as that would be embarrassing, and because there is much more to ‘computer literacy’ than you might think.

The harsh reality is, everyone knows a little about search engines, word processing, virus scanning and keyboard commands. To stand out from the crowd and be considered truly ‘computer savvy’, you need to learn more. But what are the things you have to know? Here’s what.

Search engine etiquette

Discovering the meaning of the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ option under the Google search bar when you were twelve probably made you feel quite special. But there’s a lot more to search engine etiquette than simply throwing in some words and choosing between the first couple of results.

A computer becomes a much more powerful research tool in your hands if you know how to use advanced search, and refine your web results based on the time and place of the websites’ publications.

It’s also useful to know about Boolean Operators, which are simple words (‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’ or ‘and not’) used to combine or exclude keywords in a search, resulting in more focused results. There are also cues among the results that you can spot, in order to discern reliable results from bad ones before even clicking on them.

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Web browser basics

Web designers know what ordinary people need to do on an ordinary day. But ordinary people tend to be consumers and, as a worker with great IT skills, you need to think as a producer, creating and manipulating content for your business to send out to partners and customers. Producers need to use their web browsers productively, by understanding more than simply what web designers make obvious.

You can increase your efficiency by gaining several techniques under your belt: importing and organising bookmarks, editing URLs to navigate to a different page, clearing the browser cache to improve performance, setting links to open only in new windows, and understanding common error messages.

This last skill would be ideal for spotting dodgy websites and checking the system for bugs and spyware. Although most computer maintenance is automated or unneeded at this point, certain websites can create the need for a manual virus scan. You’ll know when to do this if you have a good knowledge of how your browser moves content into your hard drive.

You should also be able to solve basic networking problems to ensure connectivity to the internet. Learn how to check what path network traffic takes to get to its target, how to determine your IP address, and to translate DNS (Domain Name Systems) to IP addresses. A domain name is easily memorised by humans but has to become a numerical IP address for the purpose of computer services and devices. Does that sound too complicated? Get used to it. summer-office-student-work-large

Word processing protocol

Word processing is the oldest use for a computer, and probably what you thought you had nailed down. Although its functions have been put into other applications (for instance, emails), word processing is still extremely important and there are more things to learn beyond changing font sizes.

Spell checking, table creation, working with headers and footers, tabs, columns, autotext, index and charts; it’s all important to be able to create a range of document types. You can also enhance your design skills by learning about background watermarks, tab stops, style guides, and HTML elements.

Many of these are less complicated than they sound, but greatly boost your Word skillz and capabilities when all are mastered. HTML elements, for instance, are simply text elements of the kind that appear on web pages. You would simply add interactivity to the element and then you’d be able to click it and activate it with keyboard commands.

This is clearly a useful feature and one of many that could easily get into the habit of using.

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Common keyboard commands

Keyboard commands are like another language that is universally spoken by every operating system. A basic understanding of this language will allow you to get jobs done more quickly and smoothly, without the friction of having to move around a mouse.

There are online tutorials you can take to brush up on your knowledge of keyboard commands, and the more you use them, the more your knowledge will stick. You’ll feel happier and more confident with a computer overall if you know how to cut, copy, paste, select, open, close, save, hide, close, check and carry out dozens of other actions by barely moving your fingers.

Excel spreadsheet skills

Spreadsheets offer incredibly powerful opportunities for analysing data. If you do your homework, you’ll be able to do more than just do a shopping list on there. With certain skills, you’ll be able to turn a grid of numbers into actionable information.

You can learn about, for example, formulas, which are expressions that calculate the value of a cell. Functions are predefined formulas and are already available in Excel. They can allow you to do things like counting the number of cells within a range that meet a condition that you set (for instance, being below 5). So you can use Excel as a calculator to reach conclusions about potentially huge amounts of data.

This is the kind of stuff you may have learned in IT when you were 16 but have completely forgotten now. Learning this may sound daunting but again, there are online resources for that.

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Hooking up hardware

It’s important to know your terminology about hardware. If the workplace tech guy tells you that your Ethernet cable is unplugged, it would make everyone’s lives easier if you knew what he was talking about.

It’s useful to know what certain bits of hardware are and what purpose they serve. For instance, Ethernet is the dominant form of wired network connection these days, with speeds that are so fast they make it worth having cables.

It’s also worth knowing the following list of facts. The CPU is the brain of your computer; fibre optic cables don’t use copper; a firewall is a router that restricts the data moving between an internal network and the outside world; a FireWire can transfer big data files much quicker than USB; Moore’s Law is the theory that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months and thus doubles a computer’s speed.

If all of that is too much, at least learn what the holes on the side of your laptop are there for. Know what goes where and what the shapes of certain cables are. This is useful, for example, so that you can hook up a computer when needing to move to a new workstation. Also, armed with this knowledge, you won’t have to worry about accidentally taking out an unimportant-looking cable from someone else’s computer and destroying all their work.

All in all, being computer literate is a long way off being a rocket scientist, but if you master certain skills, you’ll certainly be able to do more and work faster than the average computer user. In an increasingly digital world, that can only give you an advantage in the job market.What does

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Girls, don’t be afraid of gay clubs

When I first asked my straight flatmates if they wanted to come with me to a gay club, they were positively orgasmic with enthusiasm. But now I realise, they only wanted to appease their new GBF (Gay Best Friend). It’s been six months and they still haven’t stepped foot on homosexual soil.

TAB1

Girls everywhere! heterosexuality! Help! Get me out!

A key reason why they prefer straight clubs is that they have more chance of hooking up there. And that’s absolutely fine – but girls, if you take out the hunting-for-guys part, may your night be more enjoyable? Many girls throw on their heels to be the tallest, and a kilo of make-up to be the most noticeable. Although you might feel great looking gorgeous, do you really like the catty sense of competition and vanity?

There’s much less pressure in a gay bar. No one expects you to look like Kim Kardashian, so lose the ankle-breaking heels and go and dance like you mean it. Likewise, no gay is going to judge you if you’ve gone all out with boob on display; feminists and homosexuals are two sides of the same coin. And you’ll be glad to hear that no gay will want to creepily grope you without permission.

TAB 3

See, gays aren’t creepy at all.

This is also because the atmosphere is friendlier in a gay place. Everyone tends to be open-minded. Feel free to make eye contact with the six-foot, olive-skinned man with a face that looks like Michelangelo sculpted it, and a jawline that could cut glass. Go test the waters and see if he’s straight (yes, some are). If he’s not, grind on him anyway. No one cares.

Everytime I’m in Heaven – one of London’s largest queer venues – it’s only ever the boys that are embroiled in cattiness and drama. The girls are there as light relief, and they’re usually having the time of their lives, slut-dropping freely and carelessly.

TAB 4

She’ll have this photo framed on her fireplace when she’s 80 years old.

Some girls may think that the gay scene is an alien world that laughs at any naivety of its culture. They fear that, if they’re not caught up on their Ru Paul or American Horror Story, or they don’t know the latest Gaga lyrics, or that they might blink dumbly when a gay shrieks at them, ‘SLAY IT, QUEEN’, that they won’t fit in with a gay group.

TAB 2

Gays love girls and girls love gays – it’s a match made to slay.

But this culture doesn’t exist in reality. Believe it or not, we laugh at this stereotype ourselves, and we’re not an inflexible, exclusive bunch. The personalities and interests of my group of gay friends are as diverse as those of heteros. We talk about everything from dick lengths, to who’s stalking who, to dick pics.

Equally diverse is the music in gay clubs, which isn’t just Gaga, and which tends to always be better than the music in straight places. You’ll dance harder to Heaven music than you’ve ever danced before, and you’ll know all the words. After sluggishly bopping along to the repetitive beats of house music for so long, you probably don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Gay venues are full of people who have overcome homophobic obstacles, and that makes them all the more interesting to talk to. Why would you want to hang around with more ordinary yobbo students, when you could be with people who have amazing stories to tell?

True, camp clubbing isn’t for everyone – not everyone likes happiness and freedom. But it’s something that every girl should have a go at (including – hint, hint – my flatmates) not least because, well, YOLO.

4 things I learned about journalism from my internship at the Guardian

As a reward for winning the award for runner-up student columnist of the year at the 2014 Guardian Student Media awards, I was invited to work on the media desk at the Guardian headquarters in King’s Cross for a week. But aside from gaining five days of insight into the journalistic mechanism behind Britain’s most left-wing newspaper, I learned about the reality of life as a journalist. Among the many things that struck me – their obsession with always getting lunch at Pret a Manger, for instance, while I was more inclined towards McDonald’s – there were four facts that truly stood out. Some of them I already knew, of course, but the experience brought them into sharper focus.

1) Journalists are overworked and underpaid

Most of us still see journalism as a glamorous industry, hence the huge number of people who want to get into it. But the Guardian newsroom is not a happy place. Journalists might like their job, and enjoy getting stuck into writing and watching as the hours rush by. But they certainly don’t show it. Emotions are mostly expressed in the form of sighs, growls and hurried, nervous conversations. Despite the subtle pleasure they may derive from the job, journalists are under extreme pressure to stick to deadlines while maintaining quality and keeping abreast of relevant current affairs. And there isn’t a huge pay-off. Journalists aren’t going home to a huge pay-check; this came up in the grumblings of various conversations.

2) It’s every man for himself

If you don’t have anything to write, you have to find something. Things usually aren’t handed to journalists on a platter and they have to scrabble around news outlets, sort through press cuttings and stay in constant communication with people who may have a lead on a story. In fact, I think I saw the average journalist spending more time on their e-mail accounts than actually typing up content.

3) Things have to be just perfect

Refinement is key when it comes to writing for print, and only vast experience can teach you what makes perfect prose. I was asked to write a 300 word article and it had to go through two other people before being uploaded and printed. One person re-worded nearly every sentence, despite telling me I’d written well, and the other transformed it into an 800 word piece with a large accompanying photo and a place on page 9 of the national news section. I have a wealth of writing experience, but the Guardian writing style takes a long time to master. Sentences have to be structured in a certain way to maintain  both the reader’s attention and the individuality of the paper.

4) Time really is money

I was asked to write a funny, opinionated piece about the top viral videos of last week, and I delivered on time. However, I included a joke which was slightly too strong, at least in the eyes of the media editor. I posted the article on my blog and showed some of my friends and they weren’t the slightest bit offended. But because quality is everything, time had to be spent on re-writing my article before posting it. So much time, in fact, that it wasn’t worth re-writing it because it wouldn’t deliver a worthwhile number of views. A better use of the editor’s time was to abandon my messy piece and move on to something that would attract more attention (and therefore more ad revenue) on the site. Equally, I could sense the ‘time is money’ awareness in the hurried nature of people’s conversations, and the swift efficiency with which the morning conference was conducted on a daily basis. Here, the editor-in-chief would discuss how to site performed yesterday, then asked the editors of all the different sections to deliver short, concise summaries of the content they had scheduled to be uploaded today. The conference had to be finished quickly, and journalists darted from the room to get back to their desks as quickly as possible. As I stood in a blur of sharply-dressed geniuses, I realised that, for once, the movies hadn’t got it so wrong.

The 10 best viral videos of the week

Despite Valentine’s Day, this week’s viral video chart proves that it’s not love in the air, but actually hardcore physical assault. And no, we’re not talking about the BDSM currently being practiced by couples around the country.

Some of us men aren’t even allowed to enjoy those small pleasures. No, we’re forced to awkwardly back out of a Fifty Shades screening because there, yet again, is a Danish female reporter aggressively preaching the ‘boundaries’ that should be observed by lascivious males everywhere.

The violence we’re really referring to is Afroman abruptly pummelling a fan on stage at his concert. The ‘Before I Got High’ rapper appears to sniff the girl as she timidly approaches, before justifying the age-old sentiment, never meet your heroes, in the most ferocious way possible.

Other casualties this week included the ear drums of everyone in this departure lounge, after a woman launched a stomping, screaming fit about (supposedly) the dramatic rise in ferry ticket prices.

A quieter yet far more disturbing incident on public transport this week was the racism shown by a group of football fans in Paris, who stopped a black man from boarding the metro train shortly before a Champion’s League clash between Chelsea and PSG. ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it,’ chant the Chelsea supporters, drunkenly forgetting that it was a black man (Didier Drogba) that won them the Champions League in 2012.

In other news, Japan has spent horrific amounts of cash and technological expertise on making this bike shed more space-efficient. And on the topic of wasting time, the Star Wars Facebook page has shown us how to painstakingly colour your pancakes with fifty shades of Yoda’s face.

If you were in need of something more meaningful and heart-warming, watch as this man turns a selfie-taking session into a syrupy proposal to his valentine. Her reaction is one of the most memorable moments captured on film this week. And speaking of people with panic-stricken expressions, don’t miss as Eastenders’ Tanya Branning makes the live TV mistake of referencing her co-actor by his real name. It’s Ian, not Adam, Jo! Sorry, I meant Tanya.

But across the Atlantic, people have been making much more epic mistakes. The Boston Blizzard Challenge has seen many locals throwing themselves from their first-floor windows into the city’s seven feet of snow, which has fallen thick and fast over recent weeks. ‘Stop this nonsense!’ the mayor roared in response.

If only he could’ve said that to Taylor Swift and Jimmy Fallon, who showed footage of themselves dancing at New York sports games on the Tonight Show. In an eruption of popcorn, they jump from their seats and essentially make fun of what all the little people do when they see themselves on the stadium’s big screen Jumbotron TV: take the spotlight.

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