Careers Advice

Ask The Expert from University of the Highlands and Islands

We continue our series where we ask the careers experts to share their knowledge and expertise about successful graduate placements. This week we hear from Rosie Alexander, careers manager at University of the Highlands and Islands.

Published: 12/10/2017

highlands and islands


Name: Rosie Alexander

University: University of the Highlands and Islands

Job title: Careers Manager


What’s the most important thing to look for in a graduate placement?

Graduate placements give vital experience and insight into the world of work. The placement itself doesn’t have to be a perfect fit for you, but if it gives you exposure to an industry or role you could be interested in, or it allows you to experience certain tasks then it could be invaluable in getting your future career off to a good start.

Why would you recommend a ScotGrad placement?

I would recommend ScotGrad placements as they offer fantastic professional level experience for graduates. The placements are paid and they are available all over Scotland including the Highlands and Islands so there’s lots of choice across a wide geography.

What’s your top tip for tailoring applications?

When you are tailoring your application imagine that you are the employer. What kind of person would you want to employ for the job? Write your application with this in mind. Read the job description in detail and try to imagine what the job would be like on a day-to-day basis.

It is also essential to do your research, take a look at the company’s website so you have a good idea of what they do.

Remember to give plenty of evidence of your skills and abilities. In particular, make sure you specifically mention the essential and desirable criteria in the person specification and give evidence that shows you possess these skills.

How can a candidate stand out during an interview with an SME?

When interviewing for a ScotGrad placement in a SME (Small to Medium Sized Enterprise) the way to stand out is to clearly identify the skills and strengths you can bring to the company. Smaller companies like to see that you’re proactive, able to solve problems and that you’re flexible so ensure you give examples that highlight these attributes.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?

The best piece of career advice I have been given is to take risks! Be open to opportunities and don’t be afraid to take them. If you’re faced with a new challenge, get support where you can, speak to friends and colleagues and remember there are lots of books and blogs out there with tips for handling challenges in the working world. Also remember that experiences are learning opportunities, you learn about yourself, your skills and where you fit in the working world.

Finally, remember that in your working life some things will go well and other things won’t – that’s okay, learn what you can from your experiences (good and bad), and then let go and move on.

Graduate placements with ScotGrad are available throughout the year. If you’re interested in ScotGrad check out our current placements on offer and register for updates.

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