I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to find a job after graduating from studying Graphic Communication at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It turns out that my CV or the covering letters I wrote weren’t the biggest problem, indeed I got to the interview stage for several internships I applied for. My communication difficulties/social anxiety and lack of interview skills and experience was, however. The problem was that I had plenty to talk about but I just couldn’t get it out. Despite this I was determined to keep myself busy and not give up.

Before I joined the Graduate Academy I was doing quite a lot of volunteering, unpaid writing work for various youth initiative’s such as the 99% Youth Initiative and some freelance work for the organisation, the Found Generation. The main subjects of my writing were and still are, current affairs, social and youth issues. I was also involved with the Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme where I participated in group activities such as ice-climbing. Though these experiences helped to build my confidence, I was aware that I needed to undertake more personal development on a professional level.

I came across the Academy when one of the career advisors at Cardiff Metropolitan University suggested I consider applying. After reading into it the course seemed like the perfect opportunity to advance my career prospects. My main aim of joining was to improve my interpersonal skills as, despite my significant progress, I still found it quite hard in social situations. Furthermore, I knew the ILM Level 4 Leadership and Management award would help me stand out in a competitive jobs market while giving me valuable professional knowledge and awareness.

My Graduate Academy Work Placement

During my work placement at Cathays community centre my role was to assist the Publicity Officer in creating a newsletter, assisting with other publicity material and social media. During my time I was also able to contribute towards a business plan for the re-development of the centre’s cafe by working with the Development Officer. This involved researching other cafes in the surrounding area for analysis. This was very useful as I was directly applying theory I learned to a working environment and I had the impression that the Development Officer was very appreciative of the help I gave her.

What I Have Gained

As a result of the course I have more confidence in my abilities and skills. By identifying my values I am now more aware of my strengths and able to communicate them clearly in interviews or similar situations, which means I also have clearer future aims. The opportunity to interact with groups of other young people as part of my work placement, many who required support, very much helped me develop my social skills.  Above all, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone else who was on the course and working with them. I was genuinely sad to see everyone go their separate ways when the final conference at Lampeter campus ended. The support and positive feedback both they and tutors gave me is something I will always be very thankful for.

My Future Plans

I now hope to undergo another placement at Mind’s media team in Cardiff, SNAP Cymru, or continue my role with the Found Generation. In the future, I am aiming towards a job in a communications role or in copywriting. I also want to continue to develop my writing through maintaining my blog and continuing to write for the 99% Youth Initiative, the Found Generation and the Cardiff Times.

This is an article I have written for the August edition of Cardiff Times. 

E-cigarettes seem to be the perfect way to smoke without the negative health effects but if it encourages general smoking then the ethics surrounding it become that much more murky. With flavours like cherry, bubblegum and strawberry they could be easily mistaken for a children’s sugary lollipop. These are flavours, after all, that are banned in traditional cigarettes in the United States.

In a capitalist society, where increasingly clever branding is key to the success of a product it may seem a smart strategy for their marketers to use such colourful techniques to differentiate between their product and traditional tobacco cigarettes. What is important to consider is that the industry does have a history of subtly, or not subtly targeting youth, through celebrities or perhaps, most famously, the Marlbory Man. Yet films with actors, or perhaps more appropriately, a CGI Transformer puffing away, certainly wouldn’t fool children today, hence the need for more sophisticated and therefore effective advertising techniques.

E-cigarettes is an issue which has concerned officials both here and in the United States, where senators have recently attempted to introduce a bill to limit such marketing. In the US state of Minnesota legislation is now in place which bans their use in areas such as schools and hospitals. In the UK, the Local Government Association (LGA), representing almost 400 councils in England and Wales, said firms are currently exploiting the “haziness” around similar marketing in the UK and warned they are a potential “gateway” to children smoking normal cigarettes.

We can at least be be thankful we do not share the same health situation as countries such as Indonesia (where children as young as 2 appear to smoke a packet of Marlboro a day due to non-existent laws relating to the industry). In a video report on this apparent epidemic available on youtube, ABC News show footage of a Marlboro kiosk outside a high school. As the report notes this draws striking parallels between the aggressive marketing that cigarette companies used to market conventional cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s. How would parents react here or in Indonesia if this was replaced by a cherry e-cigarette?

Indeed, smoking tobacco cigarettes may cause teenagers to take up e-cigarettes rather than the other way round. For example, the type of person who may want to try smoking in the past could only try conventional smoking. Nowadays, they have e-cigarettes as an additional option. We must not forget, though, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and therefore are just as addictive. Yet it seems clear that with suitable regulation and oversight of the industry here in the UK we have a greater chance of effectively responding to the influence of advertising, which children are particularly vulnerable too. However, to say, for example, that we could see a situation like Indonesia here would be alarmist. Indeed it is easy to be over-alarmist any issue that involves children and young people.

Some argue that since studies and common sense show smokers are more likely to be impulsive and risk taking, like adolescents and advertising inevitably attaches an edginess to e-cigarettes to differentiate them then it is understandable it would appear that advertisers are targeting both groups. And the reason for the fun and hip flavours, apparently it is very hard to find tobacco e-liquid that doesn’t taste disgusting. Perhaps smokers will just have to put up with this taste in the future if flavours like cherry are also eventually banned in e-cigarettes. Helping to save young people from also getting hooked on the habit can’t be a bad thing either.

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