Author: Emily (page 1 of 8)

City Writes Autumn 2022 – Call for Submissions

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone
Portrait of author Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

Author photo of Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

City Writes is a termly event showcasing the best of City’s Short Courses Creative Writing talent and this term, alongside the readers from the termly competition, we are extremely excited to welcome Elizabeth Chakrabarty as our alumna guest author.

Alumna of the Novel Studio, Elizabeth Chakrabarty is an interdisciplinary writer using creative and critical writing, besides performance, to explore themes of race, gender and sexuality. Her debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimesinspired by experience of race hate crime, was published in 2021 by the Indigo Press, along with her essay, On Closure and Crime. In 2022 Lessons in Love and Other Crimes was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, and also shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Elizabeth was also shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022, for her story ‘That Last Summer’ published in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022: Crime Stories by Comma Press. She was shortlisted for the Asian Writer Short Story Prize in 2016 for her story ‘Eurovision’ published in Dividing Lines (Dahlia, 2017).

Her shorter work includes poetry and creative-critical writing, and she has recently been published in Gal-Dem, New Writing DundeeWasafiri, and the anthology Imagined Spaces (Saraband, 2020), and in translation, by Glänta and Deus Ex Machina. She received an Authors’ Foundation Grant from The Society of Authors (UK) in December 2018, to support the writing of Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, and she was chosen as one of the runners up for the inaugural CrimeFest bursary for crime fiction authors of colour in 2022. She lives in London.

For your chance to read your work alongside this ground-breaking author, you need only send your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction (no poetry, scripts or picture books) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by by midnight on Friday 18th November along with details of your current or past City Short Creative Writing Course.

Registration for City Writes Autumn 2022 event on the 14th of December at 7pm on Zoom is open now. Simply follow this link to sign up to hear Elizabeth Chakrabarty read from her fantastic debut, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, alongside the competition winners to be announced later this term.

Full submission details can be found here.
We can’t wait to read your submissions and see you on the 14th December.

Meet our Indesign and Illustrator tutor, Helen Pummell

Following our series of interviews with the team behind City’s short courses, today we meet Helen Pummell, tutor on our Adobe Indesign and Illustrator short courses.

Portrait of tutor Helen Pummell

Helen Pummell, Adobe Indesign and Illustrator Tutor

1.Please tell us about yourself and your background

Since 1996 I’ve been a creative art worker and graphic designer specialising in print media and advertising. And for more than twenty years now I’ve also been a part time creative software lecturer at City, University of London.

I’ve prepared in-store graphics, bus and taxi wraps, brochures, flyers, posters, branding and adverts in every major newspaper in the UK.  I’ve worked with educational establishments of world renown like The University of Brighton and Oxford University, also some of the UK’s best-known high street brands like Coca-Cola, Miss Selfridge and Tesco.

2. What do you teach at City?

I teach the Adobe InDesign and Illustrator courses at City. They cover all the fundamentals needed to begin using the software professionally. The design world can be daunting to break into and learning some industry language and processes can give students a valuable advantage, so my courses cover more than just software. My aim with teaching is to give students the tools to do their own creative thing.

3. Why do you think it’s important to learn skills like Adobe Illustrator?

Illustrator is a fundamental part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, the industry standard software. It can be used for print, digital, motion graphics, 3D, logo design as well as a broad range of illustrative purposes.

4. What are your top three tips for learning Adobe Illustrator?

  1. Regular practice as often as possible – even if just for twenty minutes. Familiarity will improve everything.
  2. Look at professional examples. Anywhere you can follow vector artists such as Instagram, Dribble and Behance. Exploring professional portfolios is brilliant for keeping up to date with the latest trends and getting an idea of what is possible with the software.
  3. Try using Illustrator’s Harmony Rules to build colour palettes for all your creative projects. It’s a powerful and underused feature that can make your work stand out and accelerate your design skills.

5. Why would you recommend learning Adobe Illustrator at City?

The format is excellent for a wide range of different learners. Setting aside weekly time over 10-weeks really gives learners the opportunity to develop their knowledge and new skills. It’s a great length of time to get to grips with the fundamentals. The opportunity to practice new digital skills with guided face to face support allows students to learn at their own speed. I also make extensive notes and practice files available to all students on Moodle, City’s online learning platform, to support any personal practice during the week and allow them to prepare for, or revise, lessons as suits them best.

Thank you, Helen! For more on the Adobe Indesign and Illustrator courses Helen teaches, visit our design courses page.

For more on all City’s computing short courses, visit our home page here.

 

Meet our Photoshop tutor, Pete Polanyk

Portrait of Pete Polanyk

Pete Polanyk, City’s Photoshop tutor

In another interview with the team behind City’s Short Courses, today we meet Pete Polanyk, our Introduction to Photoshop short course tutor.

Please tell us about yourself and your background

I’m Pete Polanyk and I’ve been working in the design industry for near on 30 years and have been teaching at City for 20 years. How I actually got into the field was in the early 1980’s I wrote a music fanzine and sometime later undertook a night class in Magazine Design & Production at The London College of Printing (now the LCC) and it evolved from there. I’ve worked in national newspapers, advertising agencies and publishing houses as well as working for myself.

In my spare time I write a music/gardening blog, compile musical mixes for a shortwave radio show and produce electronic music, self-releasing it on my own label and designing the associated visual material.

What do you teach at City? 

I teach the Introduction to Adobe Photoshop course on a Wednesday evening. The course is an introduction to one of the industry’s top image creation and photo editing software.

Over the ten weeks we learn the fundamentals of the application, how to create and edit your own digital image/artwork using a variety of techniques and I also cover some Graphic Design related topics. We start right from the bottom and work our way up.

Why do you think it’s important to learn skills like Photoshop?

It’s a very versatile programme. By learning it, you could add it to your present work skills, you could develop your own creative output or it could be a way of getting your foot in the door into the design industry. Who knows where it might lead you.

Three surfers in the water at sun set

Learn Photoshop to understand how to manipulate images

Over the years we’ve had students wanting to learn it for many reasons. We had a person who wanted to use it just to do some simple amends on promotional material for her own business as she was fed up with paying a designer an extortionate amount for doing small corrections. We had a deep sea diver who wanted to learn the skills to make a poster to promote his local diving club and a vicar who wanted to correct photographs for a parish magazine.

What are your top three tips for learning Photoshop?

  1. Learn the keyboard shortcuts rather than using the pull-down menus, it’s a lot easier and will save you a lot of time.
  2. Set yourself tasks like simple design jobs, something that may be useful for yourself or your workplace and take it from there (promotional material, a simple web banner or greetings card etc). If you’re working on a project with a purpose it will keep your concentration and hold your interest for longer.
  3. Practice, practice and practice! It’s like anything, you get better by putting more hours into it. Little and often is a good thing too. Keep at it and you’ll get there.

Why would you recommend learning Photoshop at City?

The application is taught in small groups in a friendly atmosphere over ten weeks, two hours a week. I set three simple projects that you can complete over the term which gives you more practical skills with the programme as well as some work to show for the course.

It can be a diverse class with students from different walks of life (it’s not just people from a design related background) and it does you no harm being around people from other disciplines who take different approaches when it comes to learning something new or tackling photoshop projects.

Thank you, Pete!

Pete Polanyk teaches City’s Introduction to Photoshop Short Course. For City’s  other graphic design short courses, visit this page.

To see our full range of Computing Short Courses, visit our short course home page.

 

Meet Our AutoCAD tutor, Thomas Haycocks

Cavity 777 Sculpture by Nick Ferguson

Continuing our series of interviews with some of the team behind City’s short courses, today we meet our AutoCAD tutor Thomas Haycocks.

Please tell us about yourself and your background

Macena Octopus Sculpture in conjunction with artist Suzie Wright

I come from a creative background in design and have used AutoCAD (computer Aided Design) in a wide range of projects over many years. I very much enjoy the accuracy and visual quality that AutoCAD brings. The drawings I produce are used by companies and often transferred directly to Computer Aided Machinery to be manufactured. I have worked on large scale building projects, exhibition designs and public sculptures. I have taught for over 20 years to all levels and very much enjoy the interaction that teaching brings.

 

What do you teach at City?

I run the AutoCAD courses. We offer a range of courses starting from beginners through to courses that provide students with a greater depth of knowledge and a higher professional level of skill.

Drawing by City AutoCAD Short Course Student

At City, the courses are taught through demonstrations using AutoCAD, the knowledge learnt is then reinforced and embedded through AutoCAD based tasks. The AutoCAD classes are structured so that each week a new topic is covered. Together, these classes combine to make the whole course.

Why do you think it’s important to learn skills like AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is used across many industries and professions. The programme is at the forefront of Computer Aided Design. Whether you want to use it for your own personal use or to build your employment skill set, it offers the ability to accurately draw up your tasks and manipulate the drawings to exactly how you want them.

What are your top three tips for learning AutoCAD?

  1. Understand the AutoCAD interface – This will enable you to gain confidence in using the programme so that you can draw and present exactly what you want.
  2. Use AutoCAD to draw up your own projects – This will enable you to become fluent in using the tools, commands and features of AutoCAD that are relevant to you.
  3. Explore AutoCAD – There are many features in AutoCAD that can be found by exploring the commands. Not all of them are easy to find, but once you know them, they can help in the construction and presentation of drawings

Why would you recommend learning AutoCAD at City?

The tutors are experienced and highly knowledgeable in their fields. The team at City running the short courses are very professional, organised and provide a strong support service.

Thank you, Thomas!

To find out more about the courses Thomas teaches at City, check out AutoCAD beginners and more advanced short courses.

For more information on all our Computing Short Courses visit our web page here.

Two Published Alumni Usher City Writes Summer 2022 into the Heatwave 

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes Summer 2022

Running since April 2016, it is a huge privilege to be involved in the fantastic showcase event for City’s Short Creative Writing Courses, City Writes. This term’s event was no exception. Held over Zoom on Thursday 7th July (our ears tuned briefly away from the politics of the day), City Writes Summer 2022 not only had two brilliant published alumni from the same Novel Studio cohort, Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton, it also made space for some wonderful new writing coming from the competition winners made up of current students and alumni. What a talented bunch!

 

We began with the competition winners. Jordan McGarry, Narrative Non-Fiction student kicked things off with a fantastic piece, ‘The First Spring’, about her recently deceased mother. The chat was filled with responses to her careful observations of grief and insightful turns of phrase. Her biography had told us she was planning to be braver with her work in 2022 and we hope this will mark the beginning of a habit as we all want to hear more of Jordan’s writing.

 

We headed in an entirely different direction next with a witty piece on community division, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, written and read by Short Story Writing alumnus, Jonathan Gallard. Giving us two perspectives and navigating the complex origins of divisive tradition, this was a wonderful piece of writing.

 

We returned to grief with the next reader, Orsolya Kiss-Toth. A Writers’ Workshop alumna, Orsolya read an extract of her second novel, Nadi Leaves, in which the main character confronts the studio of her recently deceased father and ends up painting her grief into a self-portrait in a way that mimics her father’s artistic process to moving affect.

 

Three times winner of the City Writes competition and another Short Story Writing alumna, Su Yin Yap read for us next. She gave us a non-fiction piece, ‘Notes on Pregnancy’ the form of which was much appreciated in the chat. Moving from facts about pregnancy to a personal account of their emotional and physical effects, the piece viscerally remembered what it feels like to be pregnant.

 

Recent Novel Studio graduate Richard Bowyer then took us into the world of satire with an extract from his novel, The White House. A hilarious letter to the prime minister called ‘The Manton Ultimatum’ had us all giggling as we contemplated the idea of one village in Essex forming an independent state. Roger Rowntree was a favourite character of the Novel Studio 2021/2022 cohort and he proved a hit with this City Writes audience too.

 

Following Richard, we listened to our last competition winner and Short Story Writing alumna, Lia Martin read her story about lost love, ‘Church Bells’. Such a sharp, witty, and painfully moving account of trying to process the end of a relationship. We can’t wait to read what Lia writes next.

 

The end of Lia’s piece marked a move into the second half of the City Writes event as we heard from alumni Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton. Both writers published their debuts in 2021 with exciting independent publishers. We heard two short readings and then moved into a Q&A.

 

Attiya Khan’s debut novel Ten Steps To Us

Attiya’s debut, Ten Steps to Us, is a Young Adult novel that readers have described as ‘the perfect teen romance that covers religion, romance and diversity’. She read the scene in which devout, hijab wearing, Aisha is saved from Islamophobic bullying at a bus stop by the handsome non-Muslim, Darren. Where would this encounter lead? Published by Hashtag Blak, this is a story you’re going to need to buy to get the whole story.

 

Simon Culleton’s debut novel Shadows of Fathers

Simon Culleton then read from his debut, Shadows of Fathers, published by Stairwell Books, about one father’s fight to stay close to his children in a journey across geographical, cultural and emotional borders. He took us into a difficult conversation with his children about where he had been and why he didn’t live with Mummy anymore. Had the children missed him? Why didn’t Mummy and Daddy get on anymore? When he said Mummy and Daddy got on the way that a cat and a dog did, things got complicated… Funny, poignant and moving, it was a great introduction to the complexities of the novel.

 

The Q&A explored inspirations, from Attiya’s desire to see Muslim young women represented in fiction in realistic, non-Islamophobic ways, to Simon’s need to show the father’s perspective in divorce proceedings. We looked at their publishing journeys from the courses they took to the agents that rejected them to the publishers that championed them. We explored what they had enjoyed most about getting their work into the public domain, what they were working on now and what their writing routines were like. Both Attiya and Simon had some fantastic tips for writers and spoke of how important it was to follow your passion in your work.

 

You can hear the full Q&A and all of the readings by watching a recording of the event here.

It was an inspiring night and I can’t wait for the next City Writes when we’ll be joined by the amazing writer and another Novel Studio alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty whose debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, published by The Indigo Press in 2021, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022. Look out for competition and event dates coming soon to this blog.

Novel Studio 2022 Showcase: A Night to Remember

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

What a pleasure to be writing once again about another fantastic Novel Studio Showcase event, this time for the cohort of 2021/2022. The reading event marks the end of a year of hard and creative work for students who have been planning, writing, workshopping and editing their novels throughout the course. Finally they get a chance to show off all that hard work to an audience of industry, friends and family guests. This year’s event was no exception in its display of exciting new writing in a wide range of literary styles and genres.

Our third year of hosting the event on Zoom, we had 50 attendees in our rapt audience. It’s amazing what the online space can offer as a meeting point of people from diverse geographical locations and this being the second year of the Novel Studio being fully delivered online, it was a fitting end to a year that showed just how supportive online writing communities can be. For those of you there, the chat really testified to this year group’s investment in their cohort’s writing journeys.

As host for the evening, I began by outlining the fantastic history of the Novel Studio course which, having developed from the Certificate in Novel Writing, has been going in its current format since 2012. The course allows students to focus solely on developing their novels for a year. You can find out more about the course here.

I went on to explore just some of the publishing successes of our amazing Novel Studio alumni (click here for more details) and we were very lucky to have present Novel Studio alumna, sponsor of the Novel Studio Scholarship (now in its fourth year!) and Sunday Times and Kindle #1 Bestseller, Harriet Tyce. Harriet offered a few words of wisdom and inspiration for the students as they embarked on their readings and looked forward to writing beyond the course. She shared her memories of reading at her Showcase event and wished the students luck.

Encouraging the audience to develop an atmosphere in the chat, the readings from the students began and what a set of readings they were.

We started with Darren Pininski and an extract from his novel, Forgive Me Father, set across London and South Africa. The extract offered an atmospheric description of a small South African town and the first meeting between two men who will go on to change each other’s lives. Forgive Me Father follows the lives of Kenneth, Nico and Dominee Paul as they navigate love, loss, forgiveness and the bizarre and dangerous world of high end sneaker crime. We were left wondering what this meeting of Kenneth and Dominee Paul would lead to.

 

We jumped onto a plane next with Clare Bunning who read from the opening of her novel, Work Trip. Fast-paced, funny and acutely observed, we followed Franny Phillips as she walked into her initial experience of first class. Who should follow her? Only the A-list celebrity and sex-god, Leo Rossi. Titillating in more than one way, the audience was left wondering how this fortuitous meeting might develop.

 

England of the noughties was waiting to greet us next as we listened to Miranda Weindling read an extract from her novel, Love + Strife. We were treated to the first real contact between two ten-year-old girls, Phoebe and Gemma. A master of the eloquent long sentence with deft descriptions of the turns of consciousness, Miranda dropped us right back into those awkward pre-teen years.

 

We headed for the Essex coast next and struggled to contain wry smiles and giggles as we listened to Richard Bowyer read from his satirical novel, The White House. With some hilarious one-liners and sharp dialogue, this is one of those timely novels that really has something to say about modern Britain. One of the main character’s Roger Rowntree was proposed for Prime Minister in the chat. We were definitely left wanting more.

 

Ammarah Ahmad took us back to early adolescence next as we listened to her read an excerpt from her novel, The Nightfall Gatherings. We joined her main character, Zara, as she experienced her first ever cult gathering. It was a very unnerving experience of darkness and chanting that young Zara could not easily navigate. We could see some difficult but fascinating times ahead for Zara.

 

Zeke McLeod read next, sharing an extract from the opening of his novel, Poseable, in which his narrator describes breaking up with his girlfriend. Painfully honest and read from the heart the novel goes on to explore the complex world of online pornographic role play. The audience was visibly attentive and left eager for more.

 

We went from the end of a relationship to the tantalising beginnings of another next with Natalie Bray as she read from her novel, Sexy Witch. Natalie took us on a whirlwind, motorcycle date with first name, surname guy, Adam Dale. Enraptured by her cutting observation and crisp dialogue and text talk, we were completely taken into her protagonist’s world.

 

Staying on a relationship run, we were treated to another remembered teenage entanglement next as Dominic Hayes read from his novel, Mean Time. With some great observations and hilarious Freudian slips, we were offered the beginnings of a multiple perspective novel of epic proportions.

 

Galaxy O’Sullivan took us into unchartered territory next as we headed for a wild science-fiction, fantasy ride through the virtual world of Galaxy’s novel, The Poltergeist Aquarium. We listened as Bishop Crowther attempted to shove souls into the unwilling bodies of one of the main characters and her colleagues. Galaxy gave us a fantastically voiced and dramatic reading with a heady mix of profanity and philosophy.

 

We went from the virtual to the very real next with a story about the vibrant hidden UK community circumscribed by immigration, patriarchy and faith as Novel Studio Scholarship winner, Hawa Maua, read an extract from her novel, The Church for Disciplined Women. Tasting just two of the novel’s engrossing four main characters, the audience got a sense of the richness of voice Hawa delivers in the novel. We left the characters in their deportation van on the way to Heathrow and headed back into fantasy with our next reader, Angus Cameron.

 

Angus delivered us into the distant country of Kizna with an extract from the first novel in his epic fantasy trilogy, A Broken Web. We listened aghast as two young men – one still a boy – were forced to watch their fathers’ executed and then kneel in the blood of their fathers and swear an oath of allegiance to the conquering empire. Read with the professional delivery of an audiobook, we were hooked into the complex politics of this distant land.

 

We stayed with the bloody mess families can be as our next writer, Sam Miller read an extract from her novel, The Last Weekend. Thinking we were in the happy domestic sphere of a mother-daughter reunion, we soon had our assumptions upturned as the narrator’s mother takes a knife to one of the chickens. Both funny and horrific, Sam plunged us into the depth and psychological complexity of mother-daughter relations. As the last reader of the evening, a dead, bloody chicken presented for dinner was a dramatic way to end the night.

 

Wrapping up with congratulations and thanks all round. Particular mention was given to the sterling work of the Novel Studio director, Emily Pedder, as well as tutors Kiare Ladner and me, and the Short Courses staff at City University, especially Josie Gleave, Sathya Narayanan and Robert Lastman. It only remained to thank the hard work of the students, to congratulate them on a highly enjoyable and productive year, and to thank the audience for their avid participation in the chat. What a fantastic night with some truly mind-blowing readings. Congratulations Novel Studio cohort 2021/2022! We feel sure we’ll soon be adding you to the list of published alumni. What a talented group.

 

For those of you who missed the night, you can watch the recordings here, or download a copy of the Novel Studio Anthology here. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

City Writes Summer 2022 Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to announce the competition winners for 2022 summer term’s City Writes event showcasing the fabulous talent coming from City’s Short Courses. These wonderful winners will be joining debut writers and alumni of the Novel StudioAttiya Khan and Simon Culleton. You can register for the Zoom event on Thursday 7th July at 7pm here.

Our winners this term are:

Richard Bowyer

Richard Bowyer for his extract, ‘The Manton Ultimatum’.

Richard Bowyer is just completing City University’s Novel Studio course. The characters and setting in ‘The Manton Ultimatum’ are drawn from The White House, his novel in development. He likes to write about the nature of community and belonging, friendship and obligation, everyday heroes, inclusion and exclusion, and how decisions get made. Richard was born and brought up in Essex and now lives in West London with his demanding cat and understanding wife.

Jonathan Gallard

Jonathan Gallard for his story, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’.

Alumnus of the Short Story Writing course, Jonathan Gallard is a writer whose style and approach defies categorisation.  Mostly because he hasn’t written much, yet.

 

Orsolya Kiss-Toth for her extract from Nadi Leaves

Originally from Hungary, Orsolya moved to Leeds about 15 years ago where she lives with her partner. She is an HR professional and whilst she loves the challenges of her role, writing is something she’s passionate about.

Orsolya Kiss-Toth

She first joined a writing group in November 2020, is an alumna of the Writers’ Workshop, and her first novel, 24 Windows, was long listed in the Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021. She’s currently working on her second novel, Nadi Leaves.

Jordan McGarry for her creative piece, ‘The First Spring’.

Jordan McGarry

Jordan McGarry has worked in the screen industries for 20 years, initially as a journalist covering the industry, and then as a programmer, a producer and now as an executive. Jordan is endlessly interested in story, but more used to helping other people write theirs than telling her own. She is trying to be braver in 2022 (though will never be comfortable with writing about herself in the third person). She is just completing the Narrative Non-Fiction course.

Lia Martin for her story, ‘Church Bells’.

Lia Martin

Lia Martin is a Londoner completing her Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck University and was enrolled on City’s Short Story Writing course back in 2014. She started her career in the media but became a secondary teacher in 2015, working in both London and Norfolk-based schools. She now leads on English for a national network of schools and is currently working on a short story collection.

 

Su Yin Yap for her creative piece, ‘Notes on a Pregnancy’.

Su Yin Yap

​​Su Yin Yap is a psychologist and writer. Her work has been published in literary magazines and websites such as Popshot Quarterly and Litro Online, as well as various anthologies of flash fiction and creative non-fiction. She has written for the psychology section of the award winning Arts and Culture website Headstuff.org. She is currently working on a collection of essays. She is an alumna of the Short Story Writing course.

These fantastic authors will be reading online at City Writes alongside Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton on Thursday 7th July at 7pm. From village referendums through lost loves and historical feuds to the anticipation of life to come, City Writes Summer 2022 will be a night of readings to remember. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you there.

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Reply All’

We’ve all been there… you were either the recipient or the sender of an accidental reply-all email. It may have made you cringe. It may have made you wonder whether you should acknowledge your mistake. Should you apologise? Should you notify the sender? One thing is certain, it looks unprofessional. Writing for Business student, Karen Young, gives her top three reply-all blunders: how to deal with them, and how to avoid them.

 

Ready to send?

1.The time you didn’t check your email before replying all. The result: you’ve sent a comment that was meant specifically for one colleague and ended up offending the other external recipients.

We’ve all done it: hit reply-all by accident, whether it’s on your mobile or desktop, and not checked that all-important email before sending. You may have made a comment to your colleague and cc’d the external recipients. It could have been a response meant only for your colleagues.

What should you do? Acknowledge that you sent the email to the external recipients by mistake. And apologise: they could have been customers or third-party suppliers.

My advice: always triple-check your email before sending. Check the recipients and cc’s, the subject, and the body text. You will never regret doing so.

 

2.When a flurry of people reply-all to the whole company

A company-wide email is sent. The topic could be an upcoming event, a milestone, or a financial goal reached. If senior management acknowledge this, fine. But there’s no need for everyone to say “Fantastic”, or “Okay”, or “Thanks”. This type of reply-all clogs up inboxes and the server.

My advice: if you have a meaningful reply, select only those who need to hear it.

Think before you click?

3.You’ve accidentally replied all, and then those in copy purposefully reply-all to let you know you’ve replied all!

My advice: If you need to let the person know they’ve made the mistake of replying all, let them know. Everyone else on copy will already know. Reply to the sender only.

To aid the fight against the reply-all annoyance, Microsoft have helpfully enabled a feature to deal with email storms – a Reply All Storm Protection Feature. Check whether your organisation has this. It could save many headaches.

Above all, consider whether a reply-all is necessary and always triple-check your emails. It may take a few minutes when time is precious but it is always worthwhile!

Triple check before you hit send

About the author

Karen Young has worked in secretarial / assistant roles for 24 years in three different industries – law, private equity, and most recently mining. She holds a Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law through the Institute of Legal Executives. Karen enjoys learning to maintain her professional development, including the very rewarding City’s Writing for Business short course.

For more on the Writing for Business course Karen took, visit our webpage.

We are also running our Writing for Business course this summer as a one-week intensive. For more information visit the course page here.

To find out more about our vibrant writing short course portfolio, including our summer schools, visit our website here.

 

Business as Usual?

Do we create our own business stereotypes and, if so, where do these  misconceptions come from?  Writing for Business student, Stacey Steele, investigates.

Business As Usual?

I’m going to be completely honest. If you had said the word business to me three years ago, I would have visualised a group of people sat round a large table wearing smart, but monotonous, clothing. The group would mostly be men (I’m ashamed to say) and they would be listening and nodding along to their leader without question. For some reason, I always thought the environment would be tense and uptight, and personalities or fresh ideas were best left at the door if business was going to get done.

Why on earth I had these misconceptions, I do not know. I certainly never thought businesses should be run like that. I can only assume my own life experiences, which were probably hugely contributed to by certain TV shows like ‘The Apprentice’, had moulded a fixed stereotype of business settings. Based on my own knowledge and skills, it didn’t feel like it was a world I was qualified to be in and therefore definitely best left to the ‘experts’.

The dictionary definition of business is very loose. Dictionary.com describes it as ‘an occupation, profession, or trade’, ‘the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit’ or a ‘person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern’. So, my own fixed view of what was basically Mr Banks at work (from the 1964 film, Mary Poppins) was restrictive, and had major potential to hold me back.

Business Revelations

Transferable skills: easy as A, B, C

Before my current role (as an Operations Manager), and for most of my adult life, I worked in education. Not strictly a business, but I would argue I gained most of my transferable skillset there. Experience quickly taught me that managing a class of children, all with different learning targets, and being able to adapt and develop to meet individual needs are all invaluable skills in a business setting. Prior to that I had various jobs in an office, shops, and a photography studio – all of which were clearly businesses. Places where goods or services were offered in exchange for payment and with the intent to make a profit. But why had I hastily dismissed these settings as being part of the business world, and therefore myself included?

It seems when we think about stereotypes and fixed ideas, we may not be self-reflecting enough. Although it is important to recognise that our own unconscious biases and stereotypical thinking can be reinforced by structural inequalities and prejudices, are we also restricting ourselves? By leaving teaching and joining the business world I suddenly had to address my own ignorance. I quickly discovered that these fixed notions of working in business were causing me to limit myself. But is it any easier to challenge misconceptions when they are our own?

What’s in a Job Title Anyway?

A possible route to feeling intimidated by business is the array of officious-sounding job titles floating around in businesses. These have the potential to create a fixed mindset of the type of character a role requires. People in senior roles may be expected to behave in a certain way, with a system of hierarchy affecting how colleagues interact with each other. But this behaviour may be assumed rather than anticipated and by continuing the cycle, rather than challenging stereotypes, nothing changes.

Doing it Differently

There are many outliers in business. Those that don’t worry about what has gone before. Industry pioneers we read about and by whom we’re inspired. I sometimes wonder if ‘imposter syndrome’ is commonplace for potential trailblazers. Are the ones who would dare to do it differently, the very people who don’t feel they belong?

Blaze your own trail

There is a risk that individuals with a unique approach could feel intimidated and dissuaded from entering a profession because of the barriers they interpret are there. Many factors can affect our opportunities, including education, gender, race, disabilities and social background. But the drive for greater diversity is gathering pace and blinkered views of who sits in the boardroom are slowly being cast out. Nevertheless, we also need to address our own self-limiting and obstructive attitudes.

Smashing Stereotypes

Create your own possible

So how do we avoid becoming victims of a perpetual self-fulfilling prophecy? What can we do to stop our preconceptions of the business world and ‘how it’s done’ from leading us to believe we don’t have a place in it? Essentially, be the change. Don’t be influenced by unwritten rules or intimidated by grand job titles. Becoming a CEO doesn’t mean you have to stay in your office and taking a trainee role shouldn’t mean others can’t learn from your ideas. Breaking conforms and challenging expectations takes bravery, but it’s the only way outdated stereotypes (even fictional ones) can become a thing of the past.

About the author

After becoming a mum at 18, Stacey Steele studied part-time whilst working in education and eventually became a qualified teacher. She decided to change direction after her husband took on his own business, and moved into a role managing operations within the company. Stacey took City’s Writing for Business Short Course with Jenny Stallard.

City are running a week-long Writing for Business Summer School in August. For more information visit our webpage.

To find out more about our vibrant short writing course portfolio, visit our website.

Meet the Languages Coordinator

In a new series of interviews we meet some of the team behind City’s short courses. First up, our languages coordinator, Agnes Shepherd

 

Agnes Shepherd, Languages Coordinator

1.Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Agnes Shepherd and I’m the Course Coordinator for languages at City’s short courses – which means that I organise how the languages courses are run. I am also a native French speaker and a French teacher who is passionate about teaching. I love to watch students progress and get a great sense of achievement when I see that lightbulb moment as students start to learn. I think it’s also important to teach students about the culture of a country, not just the language. In my spare time I like travelling, learning about ancient history and gardening.

2. What’s your role at City and how does it work?

I coordinate the language courses at City where we offer ten different languages across a variety of levels from beginners up to advanced. City is actually one of the few language providers to offer Japanese language courses right the way up to advanced level. In total I look after more than 25 courses and manage all the visiting lecturers, language enquiries, relevant marketing, social media, and administrative issues. I also come up with new ideas for courses, such as our recent holiday French course. And watch this space for our brand-new simple conversation classes!

3. Why do you think it’s important to learn a foreign language?

First of all, it’s important for effective communication. While English might be the most commonly spoken international language, if you want to communicate well while abroad or when you work with colleagues from overseas, I would say it’s crucial to learn that language.

Secondly, it is excellent gymnastics for the brain. You get to stretch yourself and fire up those neurons in a way that research has proven to be beneficial. Whether you learn Spanish, Korean or German you get to extend yourself.

Finally, but not least, it’s fun. When you learn a language, you are with peers of a similar level. It’s great to discover together the intricacy and pronunciation of a language. You get an extraordinary buzz when you realise that you are making proper sentences. Maybe you’ll find yourself abroad and suddenly the waiters understand your order, or your French colleagues will invite you for lunch and you can finally participate in the conversation!

Ready to order?

4. What are your three top tips for learning a foreign language?

  1. Immerse yourself as much as possible: join a language course where speaking in the target language is prioritised. Having to speak in a foreign language, with feedback from your tutor, will accelerate your language skills.
  2. A little bit every day: while on your language course make sure you practice even a tiny bit each day, whether that’s grammar, vocabulary or even reading packet labels in the target language, it all helps to build your knowledge and understanding.
  3. Develop a peer group within your class and do some fun activities together through Whatsapp, or even go to see a film together.

 

5. Why would you recommend studying a language short course at City?

City’s teachers are all qualified, native speakers who follow the European framework (CEFR) for language learning. Through interactive and engaging methods of teaching, they will teach you more than just a language; they will teach you about the culture too. You’ll be with peers and slowly you will find, even if you’re really shy about learning and speaking a language, you’ll make good friends. Our teachers will put you at ease and before you know it, you’ll be speaking and understanding your chosen language. For example, if you learn Arabic, our tutor Ahmed will provide you with lots of relevant material which will help you quickly progress.

 

Agnes Shepherd coordinates City’s language short courses.

Agnes also teaches City’s short online French language courses.

For more about our other online language courses visit our website.

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