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Just like your father

The world is your oyster
You’ve just finished your GCSE’s and you’re eager for what life holds for you after being spoon fed by the education system for 16 years of your life. Realistically at this age it’s very rare you’ll have enough evidence and reasoning to choose a career you are certain you’ll be happy in for the rest of your life. When I was 16, I thought I wanted to go into English literature and then go on to teach the subject – the half terms would have been nice but thank god this isn’t how life panned out. Parents influence children’s career choices both intentionally and unintentionally. When children move into adolescence, they begin to start genuinely considering their futures, often looking to their parents as role models or for career guidance. A parent’s approach can go one of two ways – inspire teenagers to explore a range of potential occupations or to stick to a path they think their parents will favour.

According to research conducted in 2019 by leading hospitality jobs board found the main influencer for 18-24 year olds is their parents (20%), the others are teachers (10%), schools (9%) friends (7%) and social media (3%). But what roles are parents wanting their kids to go into? The top three most desired industries for their children are Engineering (49%), Law (43%) and Finance (43%). Not surprisingly, this differs from what the 18-24’s preferred industries are- Media and Marketing (61%) Health care (60%) and Law (56%).Chances are your parents will be proud of you do what you love – my father wanted me to go into I.T and he is still proud of me (I think).

How involved should parents be?
Having witnessed it myself, whether parents are already in that profession or dreamt about going into that profession, they can often push personal dreams onto their children. My friend studies Medicine and I regularly get texts or calls regarding how unhappy and uninterested she is in in the subject but pressure from her mum (who is nurse) means that she won’t pursue a desired career in human geography because this would ‘disappoint’ her mother- but surely the sadness isn’t worth it.  Referring back to one of my recent articles called ‘The doctor, the lawyer, the teacher- pick one!’ about the lack of options that are introduced to children in early years of life, parents can play a key factor in maximising the chances of choosing a role that doesn’t conform to society norms.

Three key Influences

Your parents job
For some parents breeding a ‘mini me’ also known as ‘career cloning’ can be gratifying – but is this a compliment to you or is it a lack of imagination? For example, numerous famous actors/musicians bring their kids into the spotlight at the first chance given. It’s not unheard of that you might be the third or fourth generation of your family to work in the same profession- they have an in-depth insight into the industry which makes it more accessible and easier to break into that industry.

The activities parents choose for their children influences career selection the earlier a child is introduced to an interest area, the more time they have to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Some people choose a career simply because by adolescence they’ve been involved in it so long it feels like second nature. The more a child has something to commit to the easier it is to introduce the daunting concept of full-time work, they also quickly learn their likes and dislikes and what they can foresee themselves doing for the rest of their life.

Parent- Child relationship
Just because you are their parent and need to give authority you also need to act as a friendly figure to give them freedom to be the person they want to be. Too much pressure put on kids can result in the kids choosing professions to please their parents rather than choose something they love. For example, some parents punish their teenagers for not earning straight away after finishing education. In these cases, a teenager might feel obligated to select a prestigious or high-earning occupation to earn their parents’ respect or to make them proud. On the other hand, when parents make it clear they have no specific expectations for their child’s career, they often feel free to explore a greater variety of professions, choosing one based on their preferences instead of those of her parents.

To conclude,  I am of no age or authority to give parenting advise – however there is a fine line between influencing and controlling. If you don’t have some sort of passion or motivation for a career path then it’ll seem bland and will most likely be short lived. Be part of an industry which excites you and don’t be a clone of your parents.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

Network to get work

It’s who you know not what you know. Well no, who you know does come in handy when being able to then showcase what you know. For some whether you’re a socially awkward university leaver or 50 years old sales director – networking can seem tedious and pointless. However, surveys show that nearly 85% of employees have found or obtained their job via networking. Networking for me is like exercising, the thought of it provokes a ‘can’t be bothered’ mindset, but then after you’ve attempted it – the results start to show.
How can someone see you if you’re not visible?
If 20 years ago you didn’t want to physically network there was not one or two ways about it – you simply just wouldn’t network. However, a few small things have changed since 2000 – we’ve finally left the EU, Michael Jacksons dead oh and social media! Which means we can socialise with business professionals virtually.
According to recent research from LinkedIn, the main reason why millennials don’t network is purely because they don’t know what to say, this accounts for 49%. For people unsure on networking due to not wanting to delve into a room full of strangers that you’ve never met before, social media can work in your favour. Ease yourself into it by messaging the directors of company’s regardless if they are going to an ‘event’ or not- this allows you to stand out from the crowded job seeker market. Just because they have ‘director’ in their job title doesn’t mean they aren’t approachable; they are in fact human like the rest of us.

According to research in 2016, 62% of people spend at least half an hour on a job application and from my experience the time you spend on numerous job applications it’s rare you get the time back in interviews. Why? Because 62% of people are spending the same amount of time. How do you add personality to a job application? No, I don’t mean put a selfie on there, you’re not applying to ocean beach! On top of the application you should establish an online presence and directly get in contact with the leaders of that company stating your interest in the company/ role or that it’d be great to meet them- even if they aren’t looking for new employees you will still spark interest and get your name recognised.

Know your market but don’t limit yourself
When networking you are marketing yourself to employers and a main marketing principle is understanding your market. If you’re looking to go into the fashion industry, you’re not going post content on your LinkedIn to do with construction. However, don’t limit your network because people in the construction may know someone in fashion. Our comfort zone is connecting with people with similar backgrounds, same interests, in the same industry, there is a recurring theme here- SAME, SAME, SAME. You need to be able to get new ideas from all different backgrounds and professions – just because I work in fashion it doesn’t mean my only interest is fashion.

Making connections with people that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with creates value for both parties- if you are willing to help them then it will make them willing to help you. Look at applying for jobs as a balanced diet you need to obviously be filling out online applications but also networking ie. being proactive by having an online presence and going to events and conferences and get contact details of everyone you’ve spoken to and haven’t spoken to. This ‘hoping for the best’ attitude that a lot of job seekers have or have had – including myself, only holts the progression of your career. For example, I have recently had a conversation with my friend about LinkedIn who is in the hopes of being a criminal profiler but thought the platform wasn’t useful for her profession and she was putting off ever making one. LinkedIn is useful for any profession as it’s not regimented to certain sectors.

There are no excuses
I was guilty of this whilst at university as I thought being in third year, I couldn’t possibly spear a few hours from my ‘busy life’ of sleeping in till midday, to go to young professionals networking events. In retrospect as a full-time worker I now realise that I had all the time in the world but just lacked urgency- not to generalise it but is the case for a number of millennials. This excuse is more relevant to people aged 45+, as research conducted by LinkedIn shows this is the main barrier why 62% don’t network compared to 32% of 18-34 year olds.
In this day and age there really is no excuse, even if you haven’t got time to go to a physical event you have time to socially network even if it is just before bed or even the ad breaks of love island! Connecting in, responding to posts, posting articles and messaging people of interest puts your name out there- so don’t sit and wait for jobs to come to you.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani


Is your accent making you unemployable?

Bring your CV, p45 and the soften your accent
You’ve heard of racial, gender and religious discrimination – ever been judged based on your accent? I’m sure we’re all familiar with the stereotypes that are surrounding northern and southern accents. But does having an accent that is generalised as being ‘common’ make you less employable, against someone with the same skill set as you that is ‘well spoken’? Research conducted by ITV and ComRes found that 28% of brits feel discriminated against because of the way they speak, 14% of people feel this in the workplace and 12% in job interviews. Astonishingly eight in ten employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents, which doesn’t make it shocking that one in five brits change their accent to sound ‘posh’ in the hopes of securing a job.

According to new research from the universities of Chicago and Munich, if you’ve got a regional accent you’re likely to earn a fifth less than your colleagues. The research suggests that the more discrimination there is towards accents from employers this has demotivating affects on job seekers, as the research indicates workers who have regional accents tend to stay away from high skilled jobs which require face to face interaction. Your accent isn’t innate as it develops from your surroundings but it’s harder to change your accent the older that you get- would it be adequate careers advise to recommend softening someone’s ‘regional’ accent?

You’re either smart or nice
Does your accent determine how intelligent you are? The five most ‘unintelligent’ accents are Liverpool, Birmingham, Cockney, Newcastle and Manchester, however cockney and Newcastle are also both on the top 5 friendly accents. ‘Queens English’ was ranked third on the most ‘unfriendly’ accents whilst also voted first when rated on intelligence. So, if you’re northern you’re nice but you’re not smart and if you speak the queens english you’re not approachable but you are smart – we can’t all be perfect can we?

The divide
Being from the east midlands, I’ve found going to University in Leeds gave me a neutral view on the northern and southern divide. This is what I gathered from my time at University:

As a southerner, if you’re from anywhere above Milton Keynes you are in fact a Northerner. If you can afford £700 a month to share a broom cupboard with a family of rats, you are lucky enough to live in the bubble of London. People generally don’t delve into the northern hemisphere of the UK, because everywhere else is irrelevant right? One of my friends from University who is from Hampstead Heath in north London, before moving to Leeds in true London fashion – thought she was from the north because she was from north London. If no one is familiar with Hampstead Heath- let’s just say if you had a penny for every time you saw a Porsche, you could buy one. Whilst I worked in London for a short period of time after University, I often got told that I was the most northern person they’ve ever met and my colleagues often ridiculed me because I ‘sound like I’m from Yorkshire’- because Nottingham is in fact north of London.

What I’ve gathered from northerners is if you’re from anywhere south of Sheffield you must be from London and the country may as well end at Watford. During my part time role at Sainsburys in my University years, the most common phrases I received were ‘You sound so posh!’ ‘So are you from London then?’ going from being told I sound like I’m from London whilst in the north, to being told I’m the most northern person they’ve ever met whilst working in London – there is quite blatantly no right or wrong opinion it obviously just depends what side of the equator aka midlands you’re based on.

When did the divide begin?
At the height of the industrial revolution the North was ignored by the South as it was purely seen as a source of manpower and revenue. As time’s passed the north has started to make more of a name for itself – and not just because of Oasis. With students migrating to cities such as Leeds and Manchester, Manchester is now described as ‘Britain’s second city’ and is viewed as a cheaper, friendlier London.
The northern southern divide didn’t stem from accents and is most defiantly not a new concept, the pay is generally higher in London when comparing it to the north because costs of living in the south are generally higher- can’t get £1 pints in London. According to the average working woman in Camden earns £560 a week whereas in Hartlepool near Newcastle the average woman earns £252 a week.

See your accent as a unique selling point when marketing yourself and don’t try and alter your accent based on stereotypes. Avoid regional slang because employers may (in the words of Peggy Mitchell) ‘sling your ‘ook’ – this applies to both northerners and southerners. No matter what your accent is, employers should base your employability on your skills and ability to fit into the culture of the company. In order to stop discrimination, we need to prove these stereotypes to be as incorrect as they sound, therefore never be ashamed of where you’re from.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani


Out of Sight – In the Mind

The barriers to talking about mental health have slowly started to break down in the last decade. We’ve come a long way in the past ten years however we still have a long way to go before we get to a stigma free society. According to a government commissioned review 15% of people at work have symptoms of a mental illness. To gain deeper insight into mental health in the workplace I interviewed a man called Dean Worrall who is a mental health advocate. Dean has the most uplifting job title I’ve ever come across – “Chief Happiness Officer”, he is also the host of ‘The Mindbus” a podcast created to raise mental health awareness. He specialises in educating companies from managers to employees, around the importance of mental well-being. “There is a stigma in every walk of life and that we’ve all most likely been on the giving and receiving end of stigma. People don’t understand what the other person is going through. The person themselves have no idea why they feel most of the time.”

A third of our lives spent at work
The most common mental illnesses that Dean comes across in the workplace is Depression and Anxiety, being transparent about these mental issues can be challenging. Poor mental health costs the UK economy £94bn a year, while policies that address wellbeing at work increase productivity by as much as 12%. People can under-estimate how much work can dominate your life- the average person will spend a third of their life at work- that’s 90,000 hours. Having grown up with a family member who carries a mental illness, whilst describing it to peers I’ve experienced first-hand how uneducated people are around the subject due to lack of teaching. Dean having come from a corporate background and having suffered from a mental illness himself- understands how challenging juggling work and struggling with a mental illness can be. He’s resurrected from tough times and used the lessons he’s learnt to educate others.

One of the reasons Dean carries mental health talks, is because there are so many people that don’t know what a mental health illness is and how it can affect every aspect of your life.“1 in 5 people take time off for stress however 90% of these people will use a cover story because they don’t want to use stress as the reason.” When working for a Global tech company Dean would also use excuses “I would say I had a migraine, stomach bug or my children being ill so I could lie in bed all day.” He states there isn’t a generalised approach to mental health in the workplace “A mental health strategy is key to any organisation helping their employees with MH issues. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’, a strategy tackling mental health should be fit for the company.”

Vulnerable Millennial’s
If you have a mental illness one of the many reasons for not speaking up may be fear of getting ‘the sack’. This is apparent in all age groups however it’s especially relevant amongst millennial’s, research carried out by Debut in 2018 found 70% of students and graduates would avoid speaking to their employer about mental health due to experience of employers being unsympathetic. However according to the ‘report of willingness to talk’, millennials and Gen Z are the most open to therapy. Dean has personal experience of this “I worked for a global tech company and when I told my good friend that I was in therapy and asked if I needed to advise HR, he replied by saying that is the worst thing you can do, you will be put on PIP.”

Zero hour, zero security
Poor mental health among young people has been described as an “epidemic”. According to ‘Mind’ younger members of staff are the most vulnerable in the workplace. The charity found that young people are more likely to use their holidays instead of taking days off work when experiencing poor mental health. Staff turnover, sickness and lost productivity cost employers about 8% of the average salary for a young person aged 18 to 29 years old in 2018 – roughly equal to £1,723 per employee. Experts have said that easy-to-access credit and less secure ways of working can create problems for young people. Ollie Scott, at the age of 18 tragically committed suicide in 2011 due to being in £6000 worth of debt after turning to pay day loan companies to pay off bills, he was earning £175 a week. Jerome Rogers who worked as a courier on a zero-hour contract earning around £160 a week in 2016 also committed suicide due to debt from parking fines increasing to over £1,000.

I can say from personal experience of being on a zero- hour contract how unreliable they are as they made me turn to a popular student loan company to help pay my rent whilst at University- this was also the case for many of my peers. What does this tell us? Zero-hour contracts should be abolished and external help, rather than the manager being the person for employees to correspond with – may be a more appealing approach for millennial’s.

The next steps
Moving forward companies need to kick start the mental support for employees and even bosses “I have seen a few companies looking at MHFA’s (mental health first aiders) for their business and they think that this is all they need to do. It’s not. MHFA should be a starting point for organisations to move their employee’s mental wellbeing to the next level. I’ve worked with some amazing HR teams that are passionate about raising awareness around mental health but don’t receive the funding from people in power”.
Having a serious mental illness can reduce your life expectancy by 10-20 years – we don’t ignore cancer or heart disease, so why should we ignore our mental well-being?

Written by Sophia Ghahramani


If it ain’t fun, why do it?

Today, as I write this, is the final day of my 30’s. A time of reflection, setting priorities and more than ever, understanding what’s important and where I want to spend my time.

As much as age is just a number, birthdays are a reminder that we don’t have an infinite amount of them! We all have responsibilities in life, weather that’s having a mortgage or rent to pay, a family to provide for or staff to keep in jobs, but if we’re waking up every day with a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs at the thought of another day pushing widgets out the door, what’s the point?

Someone once said to me “If you’re saying yes to something, always think about what you’re saying no to” …… Just let that one sink in for a bit.

This morning I read that Monash University have conducted one of Australia’s largest surveys of teachers, revealing that 71% of educators feel underappreciated in the classroom. 71%!! There’s a lot wrong with this! Out of 2444 teachers surveyed, that’s 1735 people in a single profession who start their days feeling overworked, underappreciated and disrespected.

High levels of job dissatisfaction are not isolated to education. There is an on-going theme in Australia. Back in July of 2019 Hanover Research revealed that 38% of Australian workers are unsatisfied with their current job. Issues with salary or pay (41%), job security (37%), and uninteresting work (33%) were identified as the main drivers for workplace dissatisfaction.

Now, before you throw your laptop out the window and head home to begin your life as a yogi, stay with me to the end and let’s see if we can work through this.

  • Assess Your Situation: Self-analysis likely isn’t the super actionable first step you were hoping for but, this will lay the basis for you to attack the next steps with a clear head and a laser focus
  • Tough Conversations: Take initiative to speak up. If you’re not going to who is right! And who knows, you and your manager could come up with some great ideas to address your situation and increase your happiness!
  • Switch Your Perspective: It’s a little cliché but instead of looking at each workday as another time slot where you need to pay your dues, approach it as an opportunity to continue refining your skills and conquer new challenges.

Failing this, get a move on! Life’s far too short people!

You are the only person who can change your situation. Proceed with care for yourself and respect for your employer. We don’t always have to love work, but my birthday wish for you all is that you don’t hate it.