In preparation for the midseason premiere next week, I thought I’d post this so we can all gird our loins for what’s about to come!

  1. Before it starts: Pour yourself a drink (alcohol optional, but advised); get comfy. Have chocolate ready (in case you need to eat your feelings)
  2. During the intro: Think to yourself, ‘Surely this won’t be as crazy as last week’
  3. Five minutes in: Laugh at your own naivety
  4. Yell the following at your TV: ‘No, don’t do it!’/‘How?’/‘Why?!’/Incoherent shouting/swearing (repeat as necessary)
    rant
  5. Take deep breaths
    breathe
  6. Wonder if you could pull off Annalise’s flawless smoky eye look. Decide with great sadness that your efforts would probably leave you looking less ‘fierce’, more ‘punched in the face’
  7. Hug your partner/friend/cushion/the cat
  8. This:
    scared
  9. Cry. Eat ALL the food
    eating
  10. Roll your eyes at Asher, but secretly find him strangely endearing. Amusement turns to panic as you begin to wonder if you’re the Doucheface of your friendship group
  11. Approx. halfway through: Replenish your drink. If you weren’t already drinking alcohol, start now
    drinking
  12. Think sexually confused thoughts about Frank
    fat amy
  13. Last ten minutes: Phew, you’re almost there. You can do this. Give yourself a pat on the back, then hug your cushion harder
  14. Last five minutes: Breathe into a paper bag, fear for your blood-pressure/general health. What have you done to deserve this?
    flop
  15. No but seriously though? You’re good people- why is this happening?!?!
  16. End credits: Let out the breath you’ve been holding for the last minute
  17. Afterwards: Sit alone in a dark room, question everything. Promise your poor, fragile heart you’ll never watch this show again
    second to last
  18. Next week: Repeat the above

 

Jobs

The path I took to get to where I am now wasn’t a particularly straightforward one.

It’s hard to know what to do with your life when you finish school/university, and it’s easy to feel lost.  I’m pretty sure I made every mistake possible along the way, but I don’t regret anything.  Now I’m doing a job I love, am self-employed, and I’ve never looked back.  But it took me a long time to get here, and I feel like I had very little guidance when making those big decisions.

So here are a few things I wish someone had said to me:

Do you need to go to university?

Using my own experience here, I know a lot of people are drawn to events management degrees.  Now I’m not going to say that they’re not useful, but to get into managing events within hotels, I found that employers were impressed by my experience, not my qualifications.  I started working in Conference and Banqueting, which is basically the team that sets up the big events, and does all the on-the-day running of the functions.

Chances are you’ll only get a casual contract (I worked weekends while also working a 9-5 job at first – hard, but worth it), and the shifts are long, physical and unsociable, but I can honestly say it was the best grounding for my events career.  It gave me hands-on, practical experience and a realistic understanding of how events are run.  So all I can say is have a really good think about what you want to do, then find out exactly what employers are looking for.  With university fees on the rise, more and more people are looking at alternative routes into the careers they want.

Work experience.  Work experience.  Work experience.

I cannot stress this enough.  Experience is so valuable.  If you do decide to go to uni, find out whether work experience is organised as part of the course, and if the university has strong industry links – this would definitely be a plus.    If not, try to organise a week or two over the summer.  Yes, it’s probably the last thing you’ll want to do once you’ve finished all your exams, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.  Be proactive, and push yourself.    Try new things.  Put yourself out there, and talk to people who are doing the jobs you want to be doing.  Find out what they did and do the same.

The same applies if you’re still at school.  If your teachers are organising work experience for you, make the most of it!  Aim high, now is not the time to stay in your comfort zone.  When I did my work experience at 16 I commuted to London every day and worked for an online magazine.  It was scary, exciting, and I’m so glad I did it.

When you’re doing your work experience, ask questions.  Find out the real ins-and-outs of the job, the good and the bad.

Be realistic about your career expectations

When you’re choosing a career have a good long think about what you want out of life, what sacrifices you’re willing to make for work, and some definite no-nos.

For example, are you willing to relocate for work?  Your location will be a big factor in the jobs that are available to you.

What are your salary expectations?  Do you want a six figure salary with a sixty hour working week?  Or do you cherish your free time more than money?

Work out what’s important to you, what you’re good at, and where you want to be in ten years, and try to find a job that best fits that.  Easier said than done, I know, but www.prospects.ac.uk is a great place to start if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.  They have useful profiles for a huge range of careers, along with average salaries and necessary qualifications.

Say yes to training

If you’re in a job at the moment, make sure you get the most out of it.  I have always aimed to get as far as possible in every job I’ve done, even if I knew I didn’t want to do it forever.  For example, when I worked in retail I undertook management training.  Even though I knew I didn’t want to work in retail management, I knew it would look good on my CV.

Again, look at where you want to be, work out what gaps you have in your skill-set, and fill them in.  It sounds silly, but there is a lot you can teach yourself, and lot of valuable resources can be found online.

Get connected

Build good, strong relationships with your colleagues.  If you don’t have LinkedIn, get it.  It’s basically an online CV, and a fantastic way to connect with others in your industry.  Have a good, professional looking profile picture, and as you would with your CV, keep your page up-to-date and showcasing your strengths.  People can write testimonials about you, and ‘endorse’ your skills, which makes you all the more impressive looking to potential employers.

Again, talk to people.  Go to networking events, meet new people, and get yourself out there.  Social media is making it so easy to interact with employers.  Follow influential people in your chosen field on Twitter, and start getting noticed.

Apply for jobs the right way

It took me a long time to learn that you have to set yourself apart in the application process.

My top tip: don’t just fire off an email with your CV to HR, or the address listed on the website.  Add a personalised cover letter that shows you know about the company you’re applying to.  For extra points, (if appropriate), find out who your direct line manager would be, and email them too.  It really shows you’ve gone the extra mile, and I know that doing this has helped secure most of my interviews.

Always have a question to ask in interviews

I used to think it was OK to not bother with this, but it really is a good idea to have an interesting and insightful question.  A favourite of mine: “what do you like about working here?”  This one takes balls to ask, but it’s a definite winner.  It shows you’re really trying to imagine yourself working there, and the interviewer will enjoy sharing their own experiences with you.

Another top interview tip: relax!

Always take them up on a glass of water; there’s nothing worse than dry-mouth, plus you can take a sip if you want a second or two to think about your answer.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question if you need it.  You won’t lose any points!

It took me a lot of interviews before I felt confident and relaxed, but you’ll get there.  Look up some interview questions to practice with a friend the night before, give yourself plenty of time to look your best in the morning, and remember that the worst that can possibly happen is you won’t get this job.  But it will have been good interview experience, and you’ll be even more confident for the next one.

Send a follow up email

After an interview I find it’s not a bad idea to send an email thanking the interviewer for their time, and reiterating that you think the position sounds great (without being too over the top!).  I once sent a follow up after an interview and got a call two minutes later offering me the job.  I often joke that my job application style is ‘passion with a hint of desperation’ (so I was always careful to reign it in, for fear of coming off insincere!), but this one really does work.

Don’t be knocked back by rejection

The tweet at the start of this post pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?  Applying for jobs can be soul destroying.  You will almost definitely feel overqualified for most of the jobs that don’t even invite you for an interview.  You’ll know that you would be ace at a job, and wonder why nobody else can see that.  All I can say is: don’t lose heart.  While I was job-hunting I would wake up feeling optimistic, then as the day went on, stressed, frustrated, tired, sad, angry and hopeless.  Then I’d go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and start the whole lovely process again.  Hang in there, I promise, you’ll get there.  Tailor your application as closely as possible to the criteria they’re looking for.  Read all the supporting documents – job description, person spec etc.- and cover each point in your personal statement/cover letter/CV.  It will take a lot of work, but it will be worth it, I promise.  It’s very important to not take rejection personally, as competition for any job nowadays is fierce.  Take feedback when offered, to find out if there are any areas you can improve in.  If you’ve got some spare time while you’re looking, it’s definitely not a bad idea to do some voluntary work.  You’ll meet interesting people, gain valuable experience for your CV, and be doing something rewarding and fulfilling.  Win-win!

Don’t worry!

Ultimately, wherever you are on your career ladder, don’t stress!  It really is true what they say, your twenties are all about figuring yourself out.  I didn’t take the most direct route to where I am now, but I don’t regret a thing.  I met fantastic people, got great experience under my belt, and had a blast along the way.  You’ve got to trust that everything happens for a reason, and that things will fall into place if you have the right attitude.

I’m sorry if this post was a bit all over the place, I was trying to make sure it covered as much as possible.  I’d also like to say that I’m not a professional careers advisor, this is just based on my personal experience.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them.  Thanks for reading and good luck!

 

The cake is a lie.

  1. Portal.  What starts off as an intriguing puzzle game quickly becomes a compelling, and chilling adventure.  A unique premise, mind-bending physics and a villain with the sassiest one-liners ever.  I love this game so much I had Companion Cube bride and groom wedding cake toppers.
  2. Portal 2. Picks up where Portal 1 left off, and is every bit as awesome, shedding a lot of light on the events leading up to the first game.  It was a longer game than I was expecting (much to my delight), but kept me gripped and guessing until the very end.  The fantastic two-player mode was a great new development also.  Plus, I loved the hilarious new character Wheatley, voiced brilliantly by Stephen Merchant.
  3. Spyro the Dragon. I have such fond memories of playing this in the late 90’s on my super swanky PS1.  Charming, fun, and in my opinion a really well-made game considering its age.
  4. Little Big Adventure 1 & 2. A little-known series of games with somewhat of a cult following, these were THE games of my childhood.  Both excellent games, though the second is markedly improved in terms of graphics and game-play.  Fantastic story-lines and wonderful characters.  I feel sad on a daily basis that they never made a third.
  5. The Half-Life series (including all spin-offs: Opposing Force, Blue Shift). Before Portal there was Half-Life.  I have grouped them all together only because they’d take up half my list otherwise.  Phenomenal story-line (I don’t want to give anything away, just trust me), chilling soundtrack, BADASS antagonist, and great first person game-play (though amusingly in the first game the footstep sound effects make it sound like you have three legs).
  6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Not my usual choice of game, but this one takes me back to my uni days, when I used to while away whole afternoons playing it with my boyfriend.  Thankfully he was better at the art of seduction than CJ (in that he didn’t buy me a giant dildo on our first date), and he’s now my husband.
  7. Call of Duty. I’m grouping the series together, as they’re all good in their own ways.  Again, I never expected this to be my cup of tea, but I basically adopted an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ philosophy when everyone was playing it at uni.  And I got scarily good.  My husband won’t even play against me anymore, but we do make a kick-ass team on the zombie levels (which are ridiculously addictive, just to warn you).
  8. Pacman.  THE best arcade game.  We recently hooked our computer up to a projector and had an epic giant tournament.  Best. Day. Ever.
    pacman
  9. Super Mario Bros. Yes, Mario 64 came along in 3d and blew everyone’s minds, and yes, Mario Galaxy is amazing, but in my opinion, you just can’t beat the old-school 2d, platform Mario.
  10. Mario Kart. Not only do I love this game, but I play to win.  No mercy.  To the point that no-one will play with me.  Competitive, me?
  11. Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I know this is somewhat of a controversial choice, but this is by far my favourite of the Zelda series.  It’s a beautifully dark, weird game, with a great story and interesting game-play (in particular, the swimming is the best I’ve ever experienced in a video game).

*I couldn’t narrow it down to 10!

 

 

hair struggles

The struggle is real.

  1. When you leave the hairdressers you will look like a sleek, shimmering goddess. But just before that there will come the awkward time that all curly girls hate.  Blow-dry time.  Also known as the moment when you transform from a normal human into Chewbacca.  When my hair was longer it increased in volume so much that the hairdresser had to call for back-up.  It still took 2 people 45 minutes to straighten my hair.  So there’s that.
  2. Brushing your hair when it’s dry is a fool’s errand, so your only hairbrush will live in the shower. It will at all times look like a disgusting wet rodent.
  3. When you accidentally leave your Tangle Teezer at a friends’ house and have to use a normal hairbrush.  Disaster.
  4. Your other half can pretty much forget about romantically running their fingers through your hair. That is unless they never want to see their hand again.
  5. You can never have a fringe. Therefore will never look like Zooey Deschanel.  *Sobs and spends numerous hours wondering whether a clip-in fringe will look ridiculous.  Concludes that, yes, it will.  Sobs some more.*
  6. Haircuts have to be a strategically planned combination of layers and feathering, otherwise you can expect to end up with the dreaded ‘triangle head’. This also means you’re more limited when it comes to following trends.  Thank goodness fabulous, sassy curls will always be in style!
  7. Curly hair style tips will always be geared at either Afro-Caribbean or wavy hair. Take note women’s mags, there are many types of curls and we’d all like to be represented please!
  8. This Catch 22: curly hair is drier than straight hair, so you’re supposed to wash it less (some people recommend once a week). But how is this possible when after just 2 days your hair has clumped together to form one big super dreadlock?
  9. Curly hair is more porous, so absorbs smells more. Which is wonderful when your hair is freshly washed and smells like flowers and sunshine, but not so wonderful when you’ve been around cooking food/smokers, or gone to the pub/anywhere outside your house.
  10. People who need a vocabulary lesson. Take note people: frizzy is not another word for curly.
  11. Being asked the same questions by every new person you meet. Yes, I sometimes straighten it…I get it from my dad’s side of the family…no, it’s not a perm, etc…
  12. You’ll never be able to wake up late, run your fingers through your hair and be out the door. There’s bed-head, and then there’s leaving the house looking like Sideshow Bob.
  13. Being unable to wear a top hat without being called ‘Slash’. Granted this doesn’t happen often, but I’ve found myself in this situation enough that I feel I can mention it.
  14. Having to tie your hair back before bed unless you want to suffocate your partner, or have them wake up with your hair in their mouth. Seriously, it’s not as if we have more hair than other people, it just somehow gets EVERYWHERE.
  15. Being just too darn fabulous. Because let’s face it, you may have dreamed of Brazillian blow-dries and longed for straight hair as a kid, but now you love your beautiful curls.  Work it baby!

Picking a wedding venue can be a daunting experience.  Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, and it’s a huge commitment in terms of cost.  Speaking as someone who booked a venue then had a complete change of heart, the best advice I can give is to really do your research.  What are you prepared to spend?  What’s important to you in a venue?  Have all of this in mind before you start looking, but be open to new suggestions as well.

Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making your decision:

  1. Are there any restrictions in terms of timing?  What time can your evening reception run to?  Does the music need to be turned down by a certain time?  What time will you have the function room from in the morning?
  2. When you’re close to picking your venue and booking a date, make sure you speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost before you sign anything, and I would recommend that you book them before the venue.
  3. Find out exactly what’s included in the package. Be sure to ask about extra costs, such as a price per head for extra guests etc.
  4. If you want something quirky, like your cat to walk you down the aisle (believe it or not, a genuine request I had when I was a wedding coordinator!), make sure you discuss this before signing a contract.  Make sure any special requests that the venue agrees to are written into your contract, in case your wedding coordinator leaves, or the management team changes.
  5. Maximum capacities. There’s no point falling in love with a small, cozy venue, if you want a huge wedding for 300 people.
  6. Don’t book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different, and a good wedding coordinator will not press you to pay a deposit before you’ve had a face-to-face meeting.
  7. Do you like the staff? You will work closely with your wedding coordinator for several months, and the overall feel of the place will play a very big part in your enjoyment on the day.  If you’re torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences?  Trust your gut with this one.
  8. Ask about the flow and layout of the day. For example, will the whole day take place in one function room?  If so, how much time will be needed to transform the room between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast?  This will influence how long (and where) your drinks reception will be, and it’s important to be realistic about this.  Is there a private bar in your function room, or will guests have to go to the main bar?  If any part of the day takes place outside, what is the contingency plan for rain?
  9. The best advice I can offer is to see as many venues as possible. Chances are you’ll find that they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a very clear idea of what you want (and what you don’t).
  10. If you’re flexible on your date look into midweek and off-season discounts. Bear in mind that big dates (Valentine’s Day and NYE for example) will be a lot more expensive.
  11. Ask about fun little extras that will personalise your day, like having signature his ‘n’ hers cocktails on sale at the bar.  Chances are the venue will be excited to try something new.
  12. Accommodation is an important one to think about.  If your venue is a hotel, can they offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests?  Is the bridal suite included in the package?  Make sure you ask to see it as well.  If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out prices.
  13. Make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location.  To travel from the ceremony to our reception we hired a coach for our guests, and asked a family member to drive us in his vintage VW camper van (which we decorated with bunting, and poly ribbon).

bunting inside camper van

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I haven’t covered.  I’m happy to answer any questions!