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13 tips for graduates transitioning to working life

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Hays’ Sandra Henke shares her advice for those at the start of their career journey on how to successfully move from student life to the working world.

Click here for more advice for the sci-tech class of 2022.

Have you recently graduated? Are you grieving the loss of your old student life? Are you wondering what it will be like to be a fully-fledged member of the working world?

I hate to break it to you, and as patronising as it might sound, you really are about to enter the real world, one that will bring a whole load of new lessons. So, remember, just because the relentless exam process has finally stopped for you, your learning hasn’t. Far from it.

Quite frankly, the prospect of making this life-changing transition can feel terrifying. But it doesn’t need to be. I want to share with you how you can successfully transition from university, college or school, to working life – and get your career off to the best start possible

Accept that everything is going to change

From now on, your life is going to be different in pretty much every way. You’ll have to get used to early mornings, possibly commuting and not going out partying on a Wednesday night, which might mean your social life isn’t perhaps as fun or wild as it once was – during the weekdays, anyway.

You may well have moved back in with your parents again or have even moved to a new city, meaning your home life will change too. You must do your best to accept and even embrace these changes. Try to see this change as an opportunity for personal growth and learning, instead of a negative thing.

You’ve dealt with change before

Remember, you’ve managed to deal with the unsettling feelings that come with change in the past, so you’ll adapt quickly again this time. Think back to when you first started university. Everything about your life changed overnight, but you quickly managed to settle in, in what felt like the blink of an eye.

Adjusting to the changes that come with starting your new job is no different. You are more adaptable than you think, so draw some confidence from that as you prepare to enter the next chapter of your life. Understand these changes are only temporarily unsettling, and you will quickly form new habits, schedules and rituals, and importantly, start to enjoy your new life.

Keep an open mind

I’m sure you’ve long wondered what the ‘corporate world’ is really like, being an eager spectator from the outside, waiting for your time to enter it. You’ve probably formed some strong assumptions over the years – both good and bad – from family, friends, lecturers, careers advisers, even TV programmes and films.

Of course, some of these assumptions will be more accurate than others. So, try to keep an open mind as you embark on your first job, free from preconceived ideas about what it will be like.

Be patient and persevere

If you’re about to start your first proper job, some of your responsibilities will likely be relatively admin-based, at least to begin with. This won’t be the case forever, so try to understand and appreciate that from the outset, instead of feeling unmotivated or dejected.

As you climb your career ladder and become more senior, your responsibilities and tasks will become more interesting and advanced. So, be patient, stay motivated and persevere.

Your first job won’t be your last

It’s important to understand that your first job won’t be your last one, for the simple reason that we’re all living and working for longer than we have ever done in the past.

So, if your first job isn’t everything you thought it would be, don’t worry too much. This is just the first stage of your career journey – you have a wealth of experiences ahead of you. Take as much as you can from your current role, and then move on.

Don’t compare yourself to your friends

In the era of social media, when it feels as if everyone is on a quest for more ‘likes’, it can be easy to start comparing yourself to your friends from university. This isn’t healthy and it’s certainly not helpful.

Instead of scrolling through their social feeds, talk directly to your friends – ideally in person – about how they are transitioning from student to working life. You will find that most of them will be in the same boat as you, which can be reassuring and can also give you a sense of perspective.

Remember that social media can be deeply deceptive, as people only tend to share the things on their social media profiles that they wish others to see.

Try not to feel intimidated

During your time as a student, the only people you probably would have come across regularly who were in a more ‘senior’ position to you were your lecturers. The world of work can be a whole different ball game. You’ll almost certainly come across people who are much older than you, and in much more senior positions – possibly positions that you might aspire to be in one day.

Try not to feel intimidated by this, instead see it as an opportunity to learn. Remember that even the most senior person in the company was once in a similar position to the one you’re in right now. Everyone has to start somewhere. In any case, it’s very likely that one day, you’ll be in their shoes!

Realise that you’ll be expected to pick things up quickly

One thing you’ll have probably learned during your time in education, is that you can’t expect to be spoon-fed if you want to be successful. Much the same can be said if you’re to succeed in the world of work. You will almost certainly be expected to get to grips with the responsibilities of your new role relatively quickly.

Of course, your new employer will help you do this, but it’s also important that you personally commit to proactively learning and working hard, particularly as you’re settling in and finding your feet.

Also, you have learned heaps of transferrable skills at college or university (things like self-motivation and tenacity, time management, the ability to work under pressure, personal development and communication) so put these to good use as you make the transition into full-time paid work.

Remember, it will typically take you three to six months to feel truly settled and adept in your role, so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself either.

Have the confidence to ask questions and share your ideas

You may have reached what you consider to be a high level of knowledge in your degree subject over the last few years of studying, but when you start out in the world of work, you’ll soon realise you don’t know everything. In fact, you’ll sometimes feel like you don’t know anything.

Again, though, this is no reason to allow your confidence to be battered down. Quite the opposite, in fact – employers appreciate young graduates for their curiosity, energy and eagerness to learn, not to mention the fresh and new perspectives they often bring. So, if you do find yourself bubbling with exciting ideas when you join a business, don’t be afraid to suggest them.

Perfect your email and telephone etiquette

This might seem like an obvious point, but it’s one that is often under-appreciated by graduates. You will be expected to adjust the way you communicate when in a corporate working environment.

It’s therefore a good idea to familiarise yourself in advance with the key points of professional email and telephone etiquette, such as the importance of introducing yourself if you haven’t spoken to or emailed that person before and responding to stakeholders in a professional and timely manner.

Prepare to have less free time

While your income is likely to go up as a result of your first job, the amount of free time you have will almost certainly go down – you’ll no longer have those long summer holidays, for starters.

However, the commencement of this new chapter of your life is also a great opportunity to start using your time more wisely, including carefully planning what you do in the evenings, as opposed to the random jaunts to the pub or club that might have been typical of your student days.

To start with, you might feel like all you’re doing is working. However, once you get used to your elevated hours spent earning your own money, you’ll realise there’s a lot that can be done after 5pm and during the weekends.

You will have different people in your life

Entering the world of work means meeting a lot of people who will probably be very different to those you’ve come across before. Whereas university lectures were likely often full of people of a very similar age generation and outlook on the world, your new work colleagues will probably be very different.

This isn’t something that should scare you – it is actually a good thing. You might not expect to become good friends with someone who is 10 years older than you, but you’ll soon realise that you have a lot more in common with your co-workers than you first think.

Bear in mind that the contacts you make now will probably stay with you throughout your career and will therefore be fundamental to your success both now and in the future. In short, these people you might not initially think you can easily relate to, may be vital in helping to build the foundations of your career.

Establish healthy habits

It can be so easy to fall into less-than-healthy habits during your first weeks and months in your first job. After all, you’ll be ‘on-the-go’ all the time and everything else seems to take a backseat. You may have also inherited some unhealthy habits from your time at university – I’m referring to things like staying up too late when you need to get up early to go to work or allowing a sedentary lifestyle to take over if you work in an office role.

So, be sure to embed good habits from the beginning, including eating well, exercising, resting and relaxing – doing this will help you establish, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Committing to healthy habits early on will also help you to not only adjust better to this drastic change in your life, but also perform at your best in your first job, keep you motivated and feeling less stressed.

The transition from student life to the world of work can understandably feel intimidating and overwhelming – but it really doesn’t have to be this way. By following these steps, you can ensure that you start your career in the best way possible, whilst laying the foundations for your future success.

By Sandra Henke

Sandra Henke is the group head of people and culture at Hays. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays blog.

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$2.5m last year • The Register

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Scammers have scammed their fellow cybercriminals out of more than $2.5 million on three dark web forums alone over the last 12 months, according to Sophos researchers.

In a Black Hat Europe session, Sophos threat hunters detailed their investigation, which examined scams on two well-established Russian-language marketplaces, Exploit and XSS. They also looked at BreachForums, which launched in April 2022 after a Europol-led operation shut down the earlier version of the stolen-data souk, RaidForums.

And it turns out that scammers gonna scam, even in the criminal underground.

“We saw referral cons, fake data leaks and tools, typosquatting, phishing, ‘alt rep’ scams (the use of sockpuppets to artificially inflate reputation scores), fake guarantors, blackmail, impersonated accounts, and backdoored malware,” writes Sophos senior security researcher Matt Wixey, in the research posted today. “We even found instances where threat actors got revenge by scamming the scammers who scammed them.”

Scams on these three cybercrime forums are so prevalent that all of them have dedicated “arbitration rooms.”

Exploit, which has about 2,500 reported scams, has two: one for claims and another, the Black List, for confirmed scams. These have been around since the mid-2000s, along with closed Russian attacker forum XSS, which reported around 760 scams on its site, according to Sophos. XSS also keeps a “ripper list” that indexes scam sites.

“Exploit is the worst for scams, both in terms of numbers of reports and money lost to scammers,” Wixey writes. “It does have around twice as many members as XSS, and may also attract more scammers because of its reputation.”

Exploit’s open claims’ room lists 211 claims totaling $1,021,998, while its Black List cited 236 exploits that cost other crooks $863,324. 

In one case, an Exploit user opened an arbitration claim in an attempt to negotiate with ransomware gang Conti about decrypting a company’s assets. Exploit admins, however, closed that claim because ransomware is banned on the marketplace, so apparently there are some standards.

Meanwhile, XSS, for comparison, reported 120 open claims valued at $509,901. BreachForums’ arbitration room, which has only been around since that market opened in April, lists 21 claims worth $143,722.

While higher-end scams on all three forums hit six figures — $160,000 on Exploit and XSS are the most lucrative — some victims on these sites have filed claims for as little as $2, according to Wixey. “Threat actors seem to be as indignant about having their money stolen as anyone else, no matter the amount,” he notes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the claims processes sometimes descend into name calling, insults and general chaos with the accuser accusing the accused of scamming. In some cases the alleged victims end up getting banned from the sites for being dishonest.

While banning is the most common punishment for ripping off fellow criminals on these forums, BreachForums also publishes banned users’ email address, registration, and last-seen IP address, thus leaving them open for doxxing, the research says. 

However, Sophos also cites a few cases “involving serial scammers” who were banned, and simply created new profiles, paid another registration fee, and carried on with their criminal ways.

As Wixey notes: “If there’s a takeaway from all this, it’s that no user is immune; any trade on criminal forums involves an inherent risk of scams.” ®

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Meet the award-winning geneticist changing patients’ lives

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Prof Sally Ann Lynch talks about the complexity of DNA tests and the work that led to her winning the HRCI Research Impact Award.

Last Thursday (1 December), consultant geneticist Prof Sally Ann Lynch won the inaugural Health Research Charities Ireland (HRCI) Research Impact Award for her contribution to the field of research.

The award highlights the role of health research charities in funding research as well as principal investigators who have participated in the joint funding scheme from HRCI and the Health Research Board.

Lynch’s work, which was supported by the National Children’s Research Centre and the Children’s Health Foundation, Temple Street, was recognised for its real-world impact and for making a positive difference to patients’ lives.

Specifically, Lynch and her team undertook two projects under the scheme, which identified a total of 11 genes that have been responsible for significant health issues for people.

One of these genes, the LARS gene, and its association with a failure to thrive in babies was a brand-new discovery.

With the remaining 10 genes, Lynch discovered new clinical symptoms that were not previously associated with diseases for these genes, from lung disease to neurological conditions.

Lynch told SiliconRepublic.com more about her research, which started 10 years ago.

“We were using new technology to try and make diagnoses in families where routine testing was negative. It was done in collaboration with a team in UCD [University College Dublin],” she said.

“We successfully identified new diagnoses in a number of families using this. Now, this technology forms part of routine diagnostic testing in the investigation of children and adults with various different clinical problems.”

‘I do feel it is important to try and find diagnoses where one hasn’t been found’
– SALLY ANN LYNCH

Lynch said the LARS gene had not been previously recognised as a gene that caused human disease.

“This gene, if it is not working properly, causes children to fail to thrive. Many had evidence of anaemia and liver problems and when these children got a dose of flu or other viral illnesses, they could get very ill and go into liver failure,” she said.

“A colleague working in the metabolic unit in Temple Street had identified a small number of families who had affected children so we collaborated together and received consent from the families to use this new technology to see if we could identify the cause of the liver failure. We found genetic alterations in this gene, LARS.”

The discovery can help many children around the world be diagnosed as well and, while a new treatment has not been developed yet, a greater understanding of the condition can help with day-to-day management.

The challenges around genetic testing

While discoveries such as these can be amazing for diagnostics, medicine and innovations in health, the work is not without its challenges.

Because there is so much variation in DNA, trying to work out if these variations are causing a disease or if they are completely benign can be extremely difficult.

“It is important that due care and attention is paid to genetic test reports as they are not always black and white. The biggest challenge we face is interpreting DNA changes and trying to work out if we have reached a diagnosis or if it still remains elusive,” said Lynch.

She added that DNA tests are often misconstrued as easy to organise and have the ability to give a yes or no answer, when the reality is far more complex.

“DNA tests might give you a diagnosis, they might not give you a diagnosis. Sometimes a gene change is found and no one is sure whether a diagnosis has been reached or not because there is not enough evidence to be completely sure. DNA tests need consent. DNA tests need thought.”

Upon winning the Research Impact Award, Lynch spoke about her passion for solving rare diseases and said that an estimated 300,000 people in Ireland are living with a rare disease.

“Rare diseases undoubtedly get less bite of the funding cherry than other conditions, even though they are more in number and are just as, if not more, challenging. This needs to change.”

She added that identifying new genes is the first step in a long road that will hopefully one day lead to a new treatment.

As part of her research work, Lynch helped produce a handbook, Genetic Testing & Risk Assessment of Rare Disorders, for primary healthcare professionals.

“As a medic, staying still is not OK. I do feel it is important to try and find diagnoses where one hasn’t been found. I do feel I have to keep trying.”

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Infinite lives: the company saving old arcade machines | Games

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On a rural industrial estate five miles outside Honiton, under the flight path of a nearby aerodrome, sits a rather nondescript warehouse. Only one feature marks it out: in front is a graveyard of stripped arcade cabinets, slowly rotting in the cold and damp.

I am here to visit Play Leisure, a company that restores and sells old arcade games. It has a compelling TikTok account where it shares new discoveries – a recent post showed off a Deadstorm Pirates machine with its enormous sit-in cabinet and giant cinematic display. I’ve dragged my friend and fellow arcade fanatic Joao Sanches along, and now I’m feeling nervous and responsible because, walking up to the unmarked entrance, I’ve no idea if they will have anything interesting in stock after our 90-minute drive.

But peering inside, I spot it immediately, sat there in the cramped reception area amid piles of cardboard boxes: a pristine 1992 Street Fighter II machine, the backboard sporting a wild illustration of Ryu kicking Ken, each special feature on the playfield named after famous Street Fighter attacks. I almost gasp.

Matt Conridge, the owner of Play Leisure, has always been interested in arcade machines. “Like a lot of us in our 30s and 40s, it comes from back when I was a kid,” he explains as he comes to greet us. “I used to visit arcades at seaside resorts – places like Dawlish and Lynmouth.”

Matt Conridge, the owner of Play Leisure.
‘It comes from back when I was a kid’ … Matt Conridge, the owner of Play Leisure. Photograph: Joao Diniz Sanches

Three years ago, Conridge was running a video game bar in Bideford, north Devon, when Covid hit. Facing disaster, he decided to close up and use his contacts in the arcade scene to pivot into a new project: restoration. He rented a warehouse, employed a small team of specialist engineers and started buying up all the old coin-ops he could get his hands on. The plan was to repair them and sell them on to private collectors and retro theme bars, after the pandemic.

“Back then, we were only buying small quantities so it usually came from collectors. Now we take them on an industrial scale,” says Conridge. “At the moment, with what’s happening in the economy, arcades are cutting costs, getting rid of some of the lower performing machines that cost them more to run than they make in revenue. We get clearances from arcades, play centres, trampoline parks … ”

Another problem is that older coin-ops require specialist engineers to maintain them. “A lot of the people who used to build and service these machines have retired,” says Conridge. “That knowledge is dying.”

Matt takes us through to the main warehouse space, where we’re momentarily stunned again. Crammed into a space about the size of a tennis court are 200-odd arcade machines from throughout gaming history. The first thing I spot is the twin cabinet version of Sega’s brilliant 1995 racing game Manx TT Super Bike, which allowed players to sit on reproduction motorcycles and compete against each other along narrow country lanes. Nearby there’s Konami’s thrilling Silent Scope 2: Fatal Judgement, complete with its authentic sniper rifle controller, and further back in this electronic labyrinth is a twin cab of Final Furlong, the crazy Namco horse racing game that you control by sitting on a plastic horse and jumping up and down.

I’m taken back to the first time I visited Japan in 2000 to attend the Tokyo Game Show. I walked into an arcade in Akihabara and saw salarymen on their lunch hour, dozens of them in rows playing this game, grimacing with effort in the darkness.

The warehouse has about 200 arcade machines from throughout gaming history.
The warehouse has about 200 arcade machines from throughout gaming history. Photograph: Joao Diniz Sanches

The machines arrive in huge shipping containers and Conridge is never quite sure what games he’ll find or what condition they will be in. “The problem is, arcade operators don’t generate any more money by keeping machine internals clean,” he says. “If you open it up and start cleaning the inside you may end up causing issues. We’ve opened them and found coins, tools … We found a porno mag in the back of a machine once. We’ve just got one from Blackpool, a crane machine that dispensed sweets – it’s been left for a few years and the sweets have fallen inside and rotted, then the flies got in there … ugh.”

Will they clean that? “No,” laughs Conridge. “We’ll sell it off and let someone else deal with it.”

Conridge is however, conscientious about whom he sells brittle older machines to. “There are some retro machines that we advise people not to buy unless they’re technically minded,” he says. “There’s a pinball machine, a 1966 electromechanical model we’re just about to put on sale, and we’ll refuse to sell that to nine out of 10 people who contact us because we know it won’t be suitable for them. These machines are like classic cars: they are specialist pieces of equipment and need constant care. If I sell it to someone who just wants a working machine, they’ll be fed up after five minutes – we’ve got to choose the right customer for it. Someone who is able to tinker.”

It’s not just ancient pinball machines that are problematic. The big video arcade games of the 1990s – the technical peak of the industry – often used proprietary hardware that is simply impossible to replace or reproduce. “The Sega Model arcade boards used custom Lockheed Martin chips, which you just can’t source,” explains Chris, the lead engineer. “We have to decide whether to harvest parts from less interesting games and use them to resupply classics like Sega Rally.” Around the outskirts of the warehouse space, there are shelves groaning under the weight of esoteric parts, haphazardly piled or collected in boxes.

Lining the warehouse are shelves of esoteric parts.
Lining the warehouse are shelves of esoteric parts. Photograph: Joao Diniz Sanches

Adding to the value of these machines now is the fact that arcades historically dumped old units when they stopped being profitable. “Ten to 15 years ago companies just didn’t foresee that there would be any interest from collectors,” says Conridge. “We just sold an Addams Family pinball machine for £10,000 – that would have been chucked in a skip 15 years ago. People didn’t expect anyone would want them.”

This was especially true of larger speciality machines, such as rhythm action games, with their bulky floor pads and complicated controllers, and driving games with their realistic race car cabinets. Not only did they take up valuable floor space, they were expensive to maintain. Their growing rarity represents an interesting challenge for Play Leisure, because games like Dance Mania and Guitar Hero are exactly the sorts of machines that the new era of retro gaming bars – such as the NQ64 chain, which has just taken on £2m of funding – are looking for: not only are they fun to play in a bar environment, they’re fun to watch, too. “Dance Mania is now a £3k machine,” Conridge says.

When cabinets arrive, their condition is assessed. For Conridge there is a delicate balance between restoration and preservation. He shows me a Point Blank machine that’s just come in: Namco’s entertaining light gun shooter, which was also popular on the PlayStation, is a currently a hit with buyers. He will aim to repair these machines whatever state they arrive in – even though the guns themselves, with their delicate recoil mechanic, are often busted beyond repair (“they get really smashed by kids in the arcade”).

On this cabinet, the lavishly illustrated decals on the sides are peeling off: do they change the artwork for a modern reproduction? “If we do, it will look better but it won’t be original,” says Conridge. “It’s a challenge. We don’t tend to sell perfect-looking machines. When we went into arcades as children, the machines would have cigarette burns – that’s how you remember them. There’s a certain charm to that.”

‘I almost gasp’ … at the sight of the classic arcade game Street Fighter II.
‘I almost gasp’ … classic arcade game Street Fighter II. Photograph: Joao Diniz Sanches

Some arcade cabinets are not economically viable to repair, but that doesn’t mean they’re unsellable. “We sell quite a lot of project machines,” he says. “For a collector working in their garage, that’s fine. We had a Star Wars 1982 Atari machine come in about 14 months ago. We put it on TikTok and Facebook – someone rang and they were desperate for it. It was nice to save this original machine from being scrapped.”

If they can’t be repaired, they’re stripped for parts: circuit boards, cathode ray monitors, joysticks, motors. Almost none of these are manufactured any more, so they’re all saved. Even completely stripped cabinets can have value: people often use them as a shell for their own arcade machines, using a PC and LED monitor. “Our customers can be really creative,” says Conridge. “We have people turning them into cocktail cabinets, stands for DVD players and games consoles. It’s nice because they’re not ending up in a landfill site – they’re getting another life.”

Conridge reckons half his machines go to retro bars and modern arcades. The rest are bought by private collectors. There’s a highly active arcade-collecting community, based around Discord servers and forums such as UKVAC, and Covid brought in a lot of new customers who started building gaming dens in the midst of lockdown.

Besides retro pinball tables and 1990s hits, the big sellers are attached to film or TV licences. Play Leisure has sold three Star Wars Battle Pods, really big immersive machines, for £10,000 each. An Aerosmith-branded arcade game named Revolution X will sell for £1,500, an X-Files pinball table for £3,500. There’s an odd market too for old coin-pushing machines, mostly thanks to the TV quiz show Tipping Point and the growing popularity of TikTok accounts that specialise in coin-pushing live streams.

Close-up of game instructions.
‘It’s nice because they’re not ending up in a landfill site – they’re getting another life.’ Photograph: Joao Diniz Sanches

Joao and I spend the whole day here, snaking between the machines, peering into their exposed innards. We photograph everything. A long time ago we worked together on the video game magazine Edge, often reporting on arcade shows – these machines, which are now antiques, were the newest, hottest tech when we started our careers.

And before that, as a kid, I hung out in arcades in the 1980s. Donkey Kong, Defender, Space Harrier, Out Run; a pocket full of 10 pence coins, a whole day to waste. It is bittersweet to see the machines here, their CRT monitors cracked or missing, light gun holsters worn and split.

It is good that these things are being saved. To many of us, these are more than just disposable commercial products: they are works of art containing within them the experiences of thousands of players, my own included.

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