"I’d advise recent graduates to look at paid internships as an alternative to traditional graduate schemes. Being able to express your creativity and your learning can be a lot more satisfying than being swallowed up in a large organisation (or by a large application form). There are many startups, small businesses, charities and nonprofits who require the help of a good graduate and the chances are your job satisfaction will be much higher there. Own your projects. The energy spent on office politics and in long meetings is better spent elsewhere. Create products that help people and seek meaning above all else."
University - I initially attended the University of Glasgow for my undergraduate degree then, after a year out, went back to do my postgrad at the Strathclyde Business School.
Qualification - Economics. Although I initially applied to study Psychology, the flexibility offered during 1st and 2nd year of undergraduate study meant that I could study across colleges. When I began my undergraduate degree the Global Financial Crisis was in full flow and I wanted to know what was happening so I took economics in the hope I’d gain at least an understanding of the collapse. I took my Master’s degree in the run up to the Scottish Referendum on Independence. In both cases I was studying for the sake of knowledge - I really never had any intention of being an economist!
Job hunting experience - I found jobseeking to be pretty nightmarish. The standard issue graduate scheme application usually involves a dissertation length application form, half a dozen test centres or interviews and, if successful, geographically uprooting you away from your family and community. If you’re unsuccessful you rarely receive feedback - despite the dozens of hours the application process has cost you. Adopt an Intern, with its simple CV and cover letter applications followed by a phone interview with a recruiter, rounded off with a final interview with the employer was, in comparison, a breath of fresh air.
Roles and responsibilities - My initial internship was with East Renfrewshire Council’s Inward Investment team, a small and diverse team of highly skilled planners, project managers, lawyers and marketers responsible for tens of millions of pounds of projects - including delivering East Renfrewshire’s part of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal. In addition to general support work for the team - research, report writing, newsletters, email marketing, social media, managing funding finders etc. I was allowed to express myself creatively including wireframing the website for Invest East Renfrewshire and by helping local charities and groups gain a digital presence.
The Council also understood the importance of networking for young graduates and allowed me to spend time with external organisations including Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the local Business Improvement Districts, EKOS (an economic consultancy) and a local small marketing organisation. Seeing the diversity of work in these organisations and how they interacted was a really important aspect of my decision to move into digital marketing.
After a while away freelancing and working with startups, I took a second internship through Adopt an Intern with Millers 1893, a high-end interior specification specialist with over 100 years of history. This role, as a digital marketer, has allowed me to work on developing and implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy: the website, SEO, social media and programmatic advertising. The website will launch in January. As the role is mainly home-working, I’ve been given the opportunity to both expand my skillset and the freedom to help Innovate Scotland grow.
Where are you now? - I’m fortunate enough to still be working with Millers on a variety of projects. In addition to this I am a co-founder of Innovate Scotland - a non-profit platform for empowering entrepreneurship through advice and experience driven content. In a very short period of time we’ve grown our audience to over 4000 people, met and interviewed the First Minister of Scotland and worked with some of Scotland’s leading startups. In 2016 we’ll be publishing our first ebook “The 2016 Guide to Scottish Startups” and will be working with some of Scotland’s top business leaders on video content.
What is your dream job? - Currently I’m really into creative marketing, brand building and campaigns that engage audiences in new ways. Ultimately, through both the work of Innovate Scotland and my internships I’ve realised the importance of working with likeminded people in a way that is both creative and autonomous (and I’m always happy to help small businesses and startups to grow their digital presence).