I’m originally from West Lothian, and in October 2015, I was delighted to graduate with an MSc in Marketing with Distinction from Edinburgh Napier University. Personally, it was a huge step to embark on this course because my undergraduate degree was not business related. I studied Veterinary Medicine for 4 years at the University of Edinburgh but after a family bereavement I lost my enthusiasm for the course. I took a year out of studying and had various temporary jobs before deciding to change career direction.
After graduation, I had applied for numerous graduate marketing jobs but with little success. I discovered ScotGrad after speaking to a Careers Consultant who explained that ScotGrad placements were designed to give graduates that first piece of graduate-level work experience. I had initially thought my lack of marketing experience might hinder my job prospects. However, my various work experience including bartending, retail work, administrative roles, assisting at events and being a Student Ambassador meant that I was able to draw on lots of transferable skills. These played a huge part in securing my ScotGrad role when in April 2016, I received the best birthday present... I was offered a 6 month graduate placement with ScotGrad as their Marketing and Administration Assistant, based in the Edinburgh Office!
I was given responsibility from the outset and certainly hit the ground running. Within two weeks, I had written my first published article for a student monthly newspaper. This was a fantastic opportunity and during my time on placement I also wrote articles for the ScotGrad News Hub including “Lessons learned from The Apprentice” and “Using LinkedIn Effectively”
Aside from supporting the smooth running of the programme on a daily basis, I streamlined processes and implemented new social media content. My efforts increased website traffic, social media engagement, and placement application numbers. For example, 32% of the ScotGrad applications come from social media/online, and in only 3 months I increased the Facebook reach by 380%! This was a huge achievement considering I had been a marketing novice! I loved getting out and about representing ScotGrad at university careers fairs throughout Scotland and also delivering presentations on the excellent work experience you can gain by working in small-medium sized enterprises.
Nicola attended lots of events and presentations during her role
It was a great working environment at ScotGrad. My colleagues were welcoming, supportive and friendly and I was made to feel like a valued team member. My line manager, Kelly Barbour, guided me through the training aspects of the role and made time for my professional development. The 6 months certainly flew by and I was over the moon when I received the news that my contract had been extended by a further 2 months.
If you’re reading this and hoping to kick start your career, a ScotGrad placement gets my highest recommendation. I was looking to gain marketing experience through my placement, but I gained so much more! Looking back, who would have thought that my cooking skills would progress from pizza and pasta to taking part in a Great British Bake Off inspired challenge in the ScotGrad office?! I also remember the placement advert stated that no 2 days would be the same and that certainly was the case! There are lots of opportunities to take on a wide variety of responsibilities quickly when it’s a smaller team thus allowing you to showcase your talents. There is no time for endless days of shadowing other people so you can get ‘stuck in’ and take real ownership of your work.
Great British Bake Off inspired challenge!
My top tip to prospective ScotGrad applicants would be to use your work experience to your advantage – you can make almost anything relevant. For example, during my ScotGrad interview, when asked to talk about a time I had to deal with a difficult situation, I was able to draw on my experience of working in a pub when I learnt how to deal with difficult customers.
I finished my role with ScotGrad in December 2016, after a team Christmas dinner in Glasgow. In January 2017, the skills and experience I gained from my placement helped me land my new exciting role as a Graduate Assistant as part of the Information Team with the University of Edinburgh Careers Service.
Remember, there are many different routes to finding a job and I’ve learned that large graduate schemes are certainly not the only route to success. So what are you waiting for? Why not consider a ScotGrad placement?