Universum Student Test

Hey guys!

I don’t often advertise on this particular blog, but this is important.

Universum, a major company which works alongside organisations from around the world has recently unveiled their annual survey for university students to undertake. By completing the ‘Wet Feet Career Test’, students, who are uncertain of their future career paths, will be able to know their career profile and discover which jobs are right for them.

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In my spare time I am working as a Student Ambassador for the Australian survey. I believe this is an important endeavor because in the coming year, many university students may not be able to find themselves a job. Making the right career choice can be one of the hardest decisions, and this survey will assist students in finding the career that is right for them.

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For university students in Australia, the survey can be undertaken here: http://unisurv.co/1010auss14

I wish you the best of luck.

GIFT or CURSE? A piece about WRITING, PUBLISHING and UNIVERSITY

 

Contains some coarse language.

Plan? What plan? Talk to the architect if you want a plan! Yep, that’s right – if you came here for advice, you are sadly mistaken, cuz here, you will find anything but…

…Going to a university after college/high school/whatever it’s called, is all well and good, but are there repercussions to this as well?

As a person who wanted to work professionally in the writing field, I found out the hard way that employer’s do not take people seriously who do not have valid credentials in the field they wish to enter. Now, by writing, I meant a professional, who worked on pieces from prose to poetry, through to novels and screenplays. Yes, I suffer from delusions of grandeur, but a dream is a dream until it is proven to be 100% unachievable, and I am yet to reach that unfortunate stage.

But, why a writer? So many people these days want to be teachers and shrinks and work in PR. Well, I could that writing has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but I think that Australian author Michael Hyde, who was my lecturer for my introduction to Creative Writing class during my first semester of University put it best. Now, I hope to write this properly, but it has been a couple years since he explained this, so I might not be entirely accurate in my words – if he happens to read this he’ll probably shake his head at me. Dr. Hyde (yes, doctor, not mister!) explained how he was once teaching at this school. There was a student who could write very well, but to impress his friends he did his best not to focus on writing as much as he did sports and drinking, and other usual Aussie bloke stuff. Anyway, this literary competition is held at the school, and Dr. Hyde asks this student to submit his piece. For further encouragement, he explains how women like writers – they find men who write absolutely irresistible. The student is quite unsure; his friends laugh at him, believing writing to be the kind of thing done by losers and nerds – not by stereotypical Aussie blokes. Anyway, after much convincing the student decides to enter his piece into the competition – and wins! But, the morale of the story has not yet come to pass…the following morning, Dr. Hyde is walking down a corridor – and he sees the young woman who every man in the entire school had been lusting over embracing the student who had won the competition – yes, the same student Dr. Hyde had encouraged to enter. So, walking over to them, Dr. Hyde whispers into the ear of the student ‘told yer so.’ So, there you have it…the reason why I want to write – to gain the attention of all the foxy ladies.

Besides, in regards to other avenues of study…in relation to PR, 1) I’m no good at communicating with the general public, and 2) I’m no good at communicating with my relations, so how the hell could I ever be any good at Public Relations? And as for teaching – often has good opportunities for economic compensation, but other than that…besides, students usually freak the hell out of me, so it’s one of those thanks but no thanks ventures. Some people are scared to fly. Some people are frightened of the dark. I’m terrified to students. Moving on…

…Between the ages of thirteen and fifteen during some of my spare time I completed three short story collections, each containing six pieces. However, by the end the word ‘short’ may have very well been the last word I would have used to describe them, with the shortest piece indeed being 7 pages in length, whilst the largest was 102, and the average was 60; not exactly the definition of the term ‘short’ now, are they?

Unfortunately for me, at the time I had no literary agent, and only a very small per cent of Australian publishers are willing to accept unsolicited content; Penguin and their subsidiary Puffin, Allen and Unwin (at the time at least), Text Publishing, just to name a few. However, these publishers may say ‘we will accept unsolicited material’, but never is there a clause that expresses ‘we will publish unsolicited material.’ I learnt very quickly that every single publishing house had a problem with short stories; unless you were a known quantity in the industry, then this notion did not apply. I remember reading on the MacMillan page that they did not publish short stories, yet in the exact same month I read that known Australian author Andy Griffiths, most notable for his ‘Just’ franchise, had another of his short story collections published by their company! So, the rules are rules, unless you are a published author, in which case none actually apply to you.

Unfortunately for me, on the first occasion I happened to submit something, I mentioned my age, which at the time was 14. After almost half a year, in which I had given up waiting for this particular publishing house and had sent pieces to a couple others, I was notified in the mail whether or not I was successful. Of course I wasn’t, as depicted by the general tone of the paragraph. Did they supply a reason? Yes, amazingly enough…they explained how a 14 year old writer could never be taken seriously in the industry, and if one is writing short stories aimed for a young, adolescent audience, then they cannot be members of that readership – they need to be older, and more experienced in age and life, for nobody would ever want to read the work of a teenager. Safe to say I never mentioned my age in a cover letter again.

Anyway, long story short (pun included?) I contacted a literary agency, and after a few months was able to successfully converse with one of their employees about how short stories were not a popular market – in which I found out that they actually are! True, short stories never sell as many copies as novels, but they are especially well enjoyed by younger audiences because of their general length. It’s that publishers do not want to take the risk with a short story collection. On occasion, these collections have gone belly up for publishers, which is why they are after something more – a novel. Luckily enough for me, at the time I had an idea for a science fiction novel which I had been developing for some time.

Of course, something always gets in the way, right? Well, in this instance it was plain ol’ me…I finished the novel in December of 2009 after working on it for roughly six whole years. I took one look at my finished product and thought ‘what a piece of shit.’ Okay, honestly, it may not have been all that bad, but there was more I wanted to develop within the story in regards to the centralised characters and the lead antagonists. Additionally, I leant a lot whilst writing the story. The one thing I took away with me from high school was this; it don’t matter if you are writing a story set in the past, present or the future, if you do not have themes, or if you do not discuss pertinent issues that are reminiscent of today’s society, you will not gain a very broad readership. So, what are strong themes or issues transpiring today? Well, there is gay marriage, war, especially the one in the Middle East, racism and terrorism. There is love and sexism and rights for women. Safe to say, one can develop a piece with futuristic themes and such, but only the writer will really be privy to such a fantasy. The reader needs something that they can understand and clearly relate to, else you ain’t gonna succeed.

Additionally, I thought another aspect of writing on my lonesome, which Michael Hyde further discussed in his second lecture. What is this you might wonder? Well, at the beginning of my first novel (the term ‘beginning’ is loosely used – basically means the entire first half) I dominated my characters. I ruled over them with an iron fist! I wanted each and every one of them to live up to the notions and developments that I had conceived in my mind, and nothing was gonna get in my way from having them end up the way I wanted them to. However, by the second half of the piece I had altered my train of thought and relieved my characters of my ruling and allowed them to run free across the page. What did I learn from this experience? If you sit back, your characters will do everything for you – all you need to do is write it down. The freedom my characters had from this point onwards guaranteed them change from my initial plan that I had scheduled for their futures and changed many of the conclusions I had initially conceived.

I also happened to unfortunately find when I tried to publish this first novel of mine that I had just chosen to write in the one genre that I probably shouldn’t have. Yes, sci-fi is a very well rounded and broad subject that is enjoyable around the world; the problem? At least half, if not more Australian publishers are scared shitless of publishing sci-fi because it could blow up in their faces! Why/how did I not know this when I first began? SHIT! Anyway, instead of giving up ion such a genre or reinventing parts of the novel, I decided to move onto the development of another sci-fi oriented piece – which I am still developing to this very day.

True, probably not one of the most intelligible of things to do since I knew what to expect from the industry, but there was one more thing I was counting on; the experience I had been told that was a necessity for me back when I was fourteen…I was, and still am, attempting to acquire it. I’m in my third and final year of my undergraduate university course, but I have no intention of stopping there. Next, I wish to complete my masters, and then my doctorate, and then I can be Dr. Naughty Nefarious! However, what I am really aiming for is plain and simple professional courtesy – if I have gone all the way to gain a doctorate (that is if I succeed, which I hope to do so), I am hoping to look pretty darn respectable. I mean, how many people in total within Australia have gone on to gain doctorates? I don’t mean to seem pretentious or egotistical, but I am hoping this may provide to me a bonus, as to allow me to stand out from the other hopeful writers of tomorrow.

In the meantime though, what can I possibly do? Well, that is where the Gift/Curse part of the headline comes into play…one can gain a university degree, or go on to complete their postgrad, but all of this comes at a price. And I don’t just mean economically, although that is gonna be one helluva issue whine it comes time for me to pay off the rotten bastard of a tab that I have wafting over my head like a dark, angry storm cloud. No, I of course mean professionally. If one is after a job after attaining such qualifications and is unable to gain one in their intended industry, what next? That is the problem, because ‘what next’ is a great, big puddle of utter nothingness. Employers not in the field of study one has accomplished want NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! Why not? One, you are too over qualified. Actually, that is basically the one and only point. Due to this, you will constantly be searching for another occupation – one in your chosen felid that you explicitly studied for, and once you acquire that dream job, you will leave the one you currently have. Employers don’t want to put time and investment into a worker who will inevitably leave – no, they want someone they can train and bend to their every whim like to an able pet. So, gaining one’s dream educational qualification is all well and good, but it will ultimately prohibit oneself from gaining an employment- anywhere but in their chosen field, and if the job you seek is not hiring, well, to be blunt – you’re fucked!

Naughty Nefarious, signing off!

Is communication dying?

 

Communication is a market that is continuously changing. Where once people spoke and wrote in a particular way, now it has adapted to the next generation, as it will for the next after it. But it isn’t really the spoken word that is the focus of this piece, but the written one. According to recent surveys of people in Melbourne, it was theorised that around 40% of the work force could not read or write. Now, if we were not living in a country where there were schools every few blocks, I would find that to be a rather average statistic. But because we live in a country that actually offers education, I am quite surprised at this statistic, which has grown considerably over the years. Perhaps the general notion of this is that if the government who preside over the state, country, or what have you, are unable to care about such a subject, then so shouldn’t the people who live in the country. I mean, if the government do not see grammar, spelling and reading as a priority for its people, then perhaps it no longer is, and thus, those in the work force skip out on what once was a necessity.

I remember back in year 11 when I was in literature class, a couple students walked past and made the comment ‘only losers read’ in regards to everyone taking the course. If this is the view of a majority of the people, then it is quite obvious as to why such a statistic has come about. Basically, the end point I would like to make is that basic reading and writing does not require too much intellect, right? I mean, how any brain cells do you need to formulate words onto paper and successfully read sentences off from it too? However, if intelligence dies, then technically, we die too, and I would much rather remain alive. So technically, I am proposing that writing and reading should be prioritised, instead of being underrated by so many people. I only say so many people because if 40% of the work force can’t read and write, yes perhaps some had no choice in the matter, but the ability to improve oneself is always available to them, how many people in society as a whole are afflicted with this disease, and believe me when I say, unintelligence is a disease. People conform to the social norm, and if one day there are more people who can’t read and write than those who can, who are people going to side with? All they need to do is take the step. 40% is not far off from 50%, which I fear could very well be the statistic come the next decade. If we live in a country where the work force is suffering such an issue, then what is the statics for the society in general? How many of those 25 million people in total find it impossible to read and write? Bearing in mind the statistic was just for Melbourne alone. Quite a scary thought. In a state of what, seven million people (?), the amount is quite significant. It is just quite odd that in a country with clean water, electricity, proper housing developments, a stable government (I use the term stable very loosely), and what the government is bragging to be a triple A credit rating – why the hell do we have such shitty statistics for reading and writing? What is wrong with reading and writing, and when was this thought injected into society that it was only for the losers? What kind of government allows its education to go unchecked to such a degree that it supposedly gets everything sorted but the education sector?

In a world where if you are unable to fathomably (is this even a word) communicate then you are basically gonna be unable to be incorporated into any sector of society, communication being a key aspect of the human condition. I mean, why were we given tongues, lips, and a mouth? To eat, yes. To taste, yes. If you’re romantic you could say to kiss those we love most dearly. But, we are also given such equipment to talk. If all that comes out from one’s mouth are unintelligible sentences that are not properly formulated into coherent patterns of thought, then who in their right mind is going to bother prioritising you as the kind of individual they want supporting them in the work place?

Of course, I feel one of the major reasons behind this breakdown in communication practices is just pure human laziness. Technology has given way to aid us in every single thing we do, so all we really need to do as a species is sit back and let technology do the work for us. The same goes for communication, with technology adapting and enabling us to communicate over long range distances and such which is all really great and productive, but somewhere along the line people began to act lazily in this respect. For instance, the use of abbreviations and the deliberate shortening of sentences. Whenever we do this kind of stuff, are we not saying ‘screw you’ to the world of communication and every single lesson we ever learnt? I mean, 2day in society, whr is it dat we r lerng 2 write in da sam manr we r doing so via txt lik sirvises? I don’t c teachrs teechng dis theorem in clas, so why is it been used in socity so regularly? Y do we communic8 in such a manr as to 4get our basic teachngs? Hell, curnt wrd sftwar is allwng us 2 get away wif such communic8ive erors by not pikng up on ny of em wen we r typng. So, wat 1nc strtd on mobil dvices, has movd 2 reprt wrtng + othr such pecs of wrtn wrk. Da profsnl wrld has basicly been releg8td 2 an obsoleat ideology bcuz nobdy wishs 2 use it anymr wen it is easir to simply use wat may hav 1nc been intrpretd as the increct methd of communic8ion. Wat knd o socity alws 4 da misuse of communic8ion? Aparntly tis 1!

Now, I personally have a problem with spelling and grammatical errors. I cannot stand to see something that is amiss in a document but that was just the way I was educated, or raised. It’s shame that such is not the same today. Teachers are taught that near enough is good enough, which is quite the opposite from a couple decades back when anything but the most flawless of accuracies was considered worthy. However, who will care in the future if everyone today is now priding themselves on not doing anything to solve the issue with communication? In the future it will be pointless of me to make a post like this because the damage will be so far entrenched within our society. Now, I guess one could ask ‘well, why don’t you do something about this mister?’, and I would argue ‘many have come before me; people of action, who have been continuously shot down time and time again. It would seem however that the government sees education as an issue that is quite worthless in comparison to other such areas. People can protest about an issue, but rarely does that change the way a country will react, especially one like ours where the government listens to its people as regularly as it sends space shuttles to Mars.

One fear of mine is books in particular. Now, I will admit it has been several years (2005) since I last read a book for fun. I know a few people who still do so (the number is 3), but will there even be a book industry in the future? People have argued in the past that there will always be people willing to read books. They said the same thing about newspapers, and now we live in a time where more people access their news online rather than in paper based format and it has been theorised by some that the days of the newspaper are numbered. Perhaps reading will not die out, but evolve to compensate for the changing environment. I however fear the day when I might open up a book which begins like; ‘Adam wnt 2 da br 2 acquir sum alcoholic bevrags 4 da dinr he had pland dat night in which his prnts, of whom he had not seen in a numbr of yrs wr cumng ovr 2 meet his galfrend Natalia 4 da 1st tim since dey had bgun datng back in Septembr of ’08.’

A friend of mine enjoyed the Baby Sitters Club, Goosebumps and the Harry Potter franchises and recently finished the Hunger Games. Would she have received as much satisfaction from these worlds of fiction if they had been written in short hand? In the future when they are reprinted, will they be written in the same style as produced above? I for one hope not.

This, as always, is but my opinion.

Naughty Nefarious, signing off.

To have an internship or not to have an internship? Now that is one helluva serious question

 

I would never have assumed that my three year course at university would go by me so fast. It seems like yesterday that I was driving up to the university, and now I am but on the verge of driving away from it, and only seeing it once more in my rear view mirror. Of course, the journey is not yet over, and like with all journeys, there is always something that gets in the way. The vile antagonist in this case, if such a word could ever be used in this circumstance, is the mandatory internship that I am to gain in order to successfully pass this course unimpeded. As a person majoring in professional writing, I am to secure a place within an organisation that will allow me to do just that; write professionally. That however is not as easy a task as one might assume, or one that I might have once ignorantly believed.

I was under the distinct impression when I signed up for this course that the university would help me, along with all of the other students enrolled in the course gain said internship. Now, how exactly did I acquire such an idea, when the university now refuses to do such a thing? Oh, that’s right! They explicitly said so in the course outline! It is so amazing how the written word over time has apparently lost all meaning and now is as bitter and foul tasting as the lies people verbally convey to protect one another.

The university does every so often send out an e-mail of possible opportunities that are available to us, so I will give them credit on that count, but it is ultimately we who need to gain the internship. They may point us in an appropriate direction, but they do nothing more than that. A couple students and I talked about this on Friday the first of June, how we were all quite surprised at how we were the ones who acquired the job, not the university. Many said it was difficult because they had other commitments, including work outside of the necessary internship, university work and families that two of them had, such inevitably making the task more difficult to accomplish. They however had succeeded in gaining an internship. Me? Not so much I’m afraid.

I began to send out resumes back at the beginning of May, which just so funnily enough was when the university told us to start considering our placements. Those involved in the course next semester that will evolve around our internship theorised how we should consider local councils as possible venues to intern in. Well, I will say this; it is a great idea in theory, when you are talking about it from afar, but not so much in person when it comes to applying. There are three local councils in my area; one is yet to get back to me on my internship. One refuses to get back to me, even after all this time has passed (I sent mine on the third of May), and the other was no longer accepting when I submitted mine, which I find hilarious because I submitted my application the same day they announced their internship program. Curious indeed….

I additionally looked into other companies, however very few are looking for interns. We are told to look into organisations that evolve around our field of study, but I am quite surprised to find that most of these venues refuse to accept interns of any shape or size. They want people to fully commit to their organistaion for a good few years, not a good couple weeks.

Recently in the news there was talk that interns are especially hard done by when they attempt to apply for positions because there simply ain’t enough to go around. Many sectors are highly popular and there are only select places accepting interns, with those organisations only having a certain number of spots available. This is especially true for Sydney, where it was discussed that nurses in particular and other doctorial applicants are unable to intern because every available position has already been filled. I fear the same is happening down in Melbs, and I can only hope I fare a bit better.

The thing that is affecting me so I do believe is the experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have worked. When I was younger I worked as a child model for clothing companies, and when I was in my adolescent years I worked at Coles for a period of time. In all honesty however, I focused primarily on my studies than my work experience, believing that after completion of my university courses I will have all the time in the world to acquire a job. Unfortunately, it would seem that my ideas have come back to bite me in the arse, and I now find myself unwanted as an intern in the industry. Of course, if I am having trouble now, things aren’t going to get any easier when I go to complete my masters and find myself needing to acquire yet another internship. Especially since I was pondering about continuing on with my masters immediately after my three years of study were complete.

I will of course keep searching, and I have up until the end of October to gain an internship and complete it. Fifteen eight hour work days seemed simple in theory. Now, if I can acquire them – then I will be onto something.

Can a teacher fail you, if they don’t like you?

 

This is a question that has being bothering me. I am in my third year of university, and I am being plagued by this general notion that the teachers control whether a person either passes or fails the course they are doing. Of course, this is the same fate of all students, but that is under stereotypically natural circumstances, where they pass if they do the work and fail if they don’t. What I am discussing here, is whether a teacher’s opinion of you can cloud their judgment. So they pick up a piece and say ‘Oh, Joe Blow did this – right, fail!’

I began to think such thoughts after I was handed back my corrected work from one of my many subjects (of which I will not mention). Now, I was told that all of the information that was required of me was accurate and well established, and that I had conducted all of the necessary research to successfully gain a high mark. The problem was that I did not gain a high mark. No. In fact, I didn’t even pass. I failed the assessment task! How? Well, that is where everything becomes quite hazy and skeptical.

I was told by my teacher that I was unable to write proper English. This however was the first time I had ever been told this in my entire life. Now, I did not write this blog post to bitch about how I wish I had gained that higher mark. I mean to talk about how the judgment of that teacher has being brought into question. She asked us, all of us, after marking our work to resubmit if we were unhappy with the mark we obtained so that she could re-correct our work once we had applied the corrections she had mentioned during her critical assessment of the task. Now, you can bet that I was one of those people who resubmitted. Actually, I was one of the few. In fact, there were only two people who did resubmit; a young woman in her mid thirties, and myself. This only further makes me wonder; did everyone else gain high marks? Is that why they could not be bothered resubmitting their work? Or could they not be bothered being told again, like I was, how horrific their writing styles were?

Well, long story short. The teacher corrected my work, right in front of me too. It took around forty odd minutes to go through all of the pages (I always wondered how long it took to mark an assessment, and now I know. Imagine trying to mark a cool hundred of ‘em. Makes me wonder why people become teachers at all. Probably has something to do with the economic compensation they receive). Anyway, in the end what was my mark? It was the same one I was given before! IT DID NOT F_ _ _ _ _ _ CHANGE! I was told, to my face this time, that yes, the information was all there but it was not written properly!

Now, I could have asked for my work to be corrected by another teacher. There is one addendum however to that plan. It can only be corrected by a teacher who is involved in that course. And the teacher I have is not only the course coordinator, but the only teacher in all the university teaching it!

Now, I have had this teacher before, during my first year. She was my lecturer then, not my tutor, but she also happened to be the teacher marking my end of year test. She took a dislike to me in the lecture straight away, saying on a couple occasions how I did not speak much during the lecture. There was an entire room of people she could ask, and she turns to me? I felt like saying DO I LOOK LIKE I KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT? YOU ARE THE TUTOR! YOU HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION! YOU ARE MEANT TO TEACH US! NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

At least I passed that course. It does not look like I am going to be so lucky this time around. I am just filled with wonder, for I am doing exceptionally well in all of my other courses. I am being credited for my writing style and being told by the tutors in fact that I am quite good at writing. But in this one class I am told the complete opposite. Who am I to believe? The other sixteen odd tutors I have had in my time at the university, who have all passed me with flying colours? Or the one teacher who seems intent on flunking me? I guess the end question is; can a teacher fail you if they don’t like you?