David Smith was quickly promoted to project manager in his placement company, and gets to travel around the UK, Europe, and Canada! Read about his experience, and his thoughts on the benefits of smaller companies below.
What's your background?
I grew up in North Glasgow and studied Business Enterprise at Strathclyde University. After graduating I spent some time travelling, which I cannot recommend enough, before coming back to Scotland and taking the first job that came up. This was a mistake, and I was quickly looking for something more fulfilling and challenging to start a career.
Why did you apply for a ScotGrad placement?
I really wanted to work in an innovative, growing small company and in my search I found the ScotGrad website to be the most useful for jobs of this type. There are lots of so called “graduate programmes” offered by big companies and I am sure some of them are fantastic but working in a small, innovative and growing company has always been much more attractive to me. My work at Impact Solutions has provided me with a huge variety of experience. To sit side by side with the directors, and to learn from their experience and skills; I just don’t think happens in large companies.
What appealed to you about your placement?
Although there were a lot of placements advertised on ScotGrad I only applied for the one that I got at Impact Solutions. I was most interested in the job as it looked like a real challenge that I could tackle, due to undertaking a very similar practical project in my final year at university. It turned out that Impact Solutions were interested in me because of that experience, so it worked out very well.
What was your role at Impact Solutions?
I started my role at Impact Solutions as the Commercial Manager conducting market research for a specific R&D project. I have since become project manager and get to travel around the UK, Europe and even to Canada to promote the project and develop the technology. I am involved in a new non-destructive testing technology for assessing joints on plastic pipe installations in the water and gas industries.
What did you expect to gain?
Working in a small company with R&D projects I expected to have a great deal of responsibility and exposure to the industry very quickly. I sit across from the managing director, diagonally from the operations manager and next to the development manager - so I have picked up so much even just from listening to them in the office.
What skills did you bring to your placement?
I had experience of conducting market research and proposing market entry strategy for a new technology. I am a sociable person so I was also able to make connections in the water and gas industry throughout my placement.
What skills have you developed?
Working at Impact I get to do something different almost every day. One day I will be in office wear at my desk, the next I will down in the lab with my safety gear, the next I will be in a suit at a conference, and the next I will be in a jump suit down a muddy hole! This huge variety of work has expanded my experience in immeasurable ways. I was a little worried about going in to a role that involved technical work but I found out quickly that I can’t limit myself just because I didn’t study something: it will help but it doesn’t give you an excuse to say “I can’t do that” if there is an opportunity to try. What has been most obvious to me is my progression in commercial understanding in a real world situation and how to tie in everything I do technically to a commercial goal.
Did you enjoy the Residential Training Course?
The course was a good reminder of why looking at practical ways of implementing what you have spent so long studying could benefit the organisation you are placed at. It was great to meet everybody else on the programme and hear how they were getting on with placements to learn from their experiences.
Would you recommend ScotGrad?
I would absolutely recommend ScotGrad. Even if you want to work in a big company later in your career, the experience you can gain in such a short space of time in the right small company should prove invaluable.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to graduates?
If you get a placement, don’t expect to be looked after and if you don’t feel that you are being challenged enough then be proactive and take on extra responsibilities and offer to do tasks or help with/watch in on more complex work.
Any top tips for applications?
Spend time on your application. Emphasise your practical experience and not just your education. What I have found is that theory is very different from practice, and proving that you can make that transition to potential employers is key.
Has this sparked your interest in our placements? Kick start your own career through ScotGrad by applying here.