Don’t be deterred by contractual obligations

Employers – Are you thinking about starting a placement scheme? Great! Are you worrying about the long-term commitment? Don’t!

Organisations considering running a program of undergraduate placements sometimes worry that it will be a long-term commitment. Such fear can completely destroy any prospect of creating a placement scheme. It’s good to remember that these things don’t have to last forever.

Man Signing Contract

[Image courtesy of forbes.com] Continue reading

Got a round hole? Find a round peg.

As I wrote last year, mentors do an important job. Many organisations have excellent schemes for apprentices or graduate trainees and they deliver tremendous results. They have carefully planned development programmes, run by the best people. And they make adjustments when things change, as they surely do, over the years.

But some organisations don’t enjoy the same success despite their best intentions. It isn’t always immediately obvious why they under-deliver. The long timescales inherent in personal and professional development programmes don’t help. But one of the reasons is that the wrong people are involved.

Helping others isn’t for everyone. Some don’t enjoy it; they don’t see the value; or they don’t have the patience. Whatever the reason, some just aren’t cut out for it.

Square Peg Round Hole

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What makes a stonemason happy?

Whether it’s a funny video clip of a man chasing a dog in a park, or an inspired Christmas ad campaign which leaves us in tears, we are all now comfortable with the concept of “liking” something, Tweeting about it or blogging about it. But it hasn’t always been like that, and until only recently, sharing our opinions of such things wasn’t at all easy.

WarMemorialStone

The stone in the picture sits in a wall adjacent to the war memorial at one end of our village. I really like it – I find it thought-provoking. Hundreds of children pass it every day on their way to and from school. I wonder how many have noticed it, or taken a few short seconds to read it. Even today, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I wonder how many will slow down to read it as they pass. Apart from the annual occasions when we congregate to remember those who died, it tends not to get much attention – we’re all too busy going somewhere. And that’s the problem – it can only be seen at one precise location; it needs to be visited. It doesn’t come to us. Continue reading

It’s not what you know…

I recently ran an employability session at a secondary school. One of the themes of the day was about what students can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.

Many of the students saw themselves as a trainee Superman or Superwoman – eventually capable of everything, knowing everything. They saw their time now at school and their future time at college or university as being a time for learning everything they needed – forever. And that somehow if they didn’t learn it now, they’d never do so.

Sponge2

 

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Understanding engineers

Understanding Engineers #1

Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?

The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.

The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you anyway.

Understanding Engineers #2

To the optimist, the glass is half-full.

To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers #3

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!

The priest said, “Here comes the greens-keeper. Let’s have a word with him.” He said, “Hello George, What’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?

The greens-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!

The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.

The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything she can do for them.

The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?

Understanding Engineers #4

What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons.

Civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers #5

The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?

The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?

The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?

The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?

Understanding Engineers #6

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.

Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.

The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?

Understanding Engineers #7

Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers #8

An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week.

The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want.

Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?

The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog – now that’s cool.

And finally…

Two engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking at its top. A woman walked by and asked what they were doing.

We’re supposed to find the height of this flagpole,” said Sven, “but we don’t have a ladder.

The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple of bolts, and laid the pole down on the ground. Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced, “Twenty one feet, six inches,” and walked away.

One engineer shook his head and laughed, “A lot of good that does us. We ask for the height and she gives us the length!

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Feel free to comment on this post – I’d be interested to hear your views.
Inixiti – Improving graduate employability.

To be honest

If you knew you could improve someone’s performance by having a difficult conversation, you would have that conversation, wouldn’t you? Easy. How about if that person was the company Chairman? More difficult, perhaps. Would it be easier if you knew that the Chairman craved honest feedback, and was desperate to hear from you?

So what’s stopping you?

Honesty

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Inspiration from the top

The Winter Olympics are now in full swing, and they bring an abundance of inspiring stories in the same way as the Summer Olympics of London 2012 did.

Much will be written about new Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold over the coming months, and UK Sport will rightly see her as further evidence that their Talent ID programmes such as Girls4Gold deliver tangible results. Such was her dominance of the women’s skeleton event ahead of Sochi 2014 that many (unreasonably) suggested that the result was never in doubt. Given the scarcity of Winter Olympic gold medals in the history of the GB team, it is surely only a matter of time before the tabloids dub her Lizzy Yarngold.

Lizzy-Yarnold

[Photo credit www.telegraph.co.uk]

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New Year’s Resolutions – think big and eat more chocolate

earlyinitiative:

I wrote this last year but decided to reblog it this year. After all, it still makes a great deal of sense.

Originally posted on earlyinitiative:

With only three weeks remaining of the well-worn 2012, our attention starts to turn towards the sleek and shiny new 2013. Full of possibilities, excitement, opportunities and challenges, it looms large on our horizon. For many it will be the start of something new; for others it will bring something to an end. One thing we can be sure of – uncertainty.

December is traditionally the time for setting New Year’s Resolutions – those promises we make to ourselves and others about what we’re going to do differently in the new year.

Before rushing to add “join the gym; eat less chocolate; drink less wine” to the list of resolutions, I would recommend reading this lovely poem by Nadine Stair (aged 85). More about its background here.

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Great news for the UK – another BBC repeat

When I visited a secondary school last week and asked about how much work they do with computers, I was disappointed with the replies. All students up to Year 11 (aged 11-16) do several hours a week, but it is limited to using applications – creating posters, monitoring costs, writing newspaper articles. They use computers, but they don’t do any programming at all.

I was even a little surprised to hear that all pupils are taught how to type, since I would have expected that by the age of 11 most, if not all, would have proficient typing skills.

But only the next day Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC made a major announcement which is set to change all this.

BBC_Plans to get the nation coding Continue reading

Five tricky questions for First Year students

People go to university for a variety of reasons. One commonly-cited reason is that it helps get on the first rung of the jobs ladder – for many careers, a degree is a mandatory requirement. But why else?

During those few short years at university, a great deal of “growing up” often take place forming the transition from late-teenage years to early-adulthood and the first stages in becoming a “professional”. Some of that transition happens without any conscious effort. The most successful students take concrete steps to drive their development forward so that they’re ready-baked on graduation.

mind map for setting personal life goals Continue reading