Olga Szewczyk, Sustainability Project Manager, Heineken

 Olga SzewczykOlga Szewczyk,

Sustainability Project Manager, Heineken

Psychology MA (Hons), 2014

LinkedIn profile

My Current Job

In my current role, I am responsible for establishing sustainability agenda within the procurement department of Heineken. My main job is project management, including collaboration with suppliers of packaging to reduce CO2 emissions.

My career history 

After graduating from Edinburgh University, I completed an MSc in Business Analysis and Consulting at the University of Strathclyde. During my master studies, I was accepted to Heineken’s International Graduate Programme, a 1,5 year long traineeship consisting of 3 rotations around the world. I was working in the Netherlands, Myanmar and Mexico. Following the graduate programme, I came back to the Netherlands and started a job within sustainability. Currently, I am preparing for my next role as Procurement Operations manager in Brazil.

Using my degree skills and knowledge in my work

A degree in psychology has been helpful in less direct ways in my work. A lot of theories regarding group think, motivation, judgement and behaviour have been useful for explaining situations encountered in the work life, allowing deeper understanding, but also empathy for colleagues. Additionally, if leadership positions where people development are your aim, having the knowledge of personality styles and cognition can be of great help. In the more trivial ways, having the knowledge of perception and memory is a big advantage during presentations, idea pitching and even negotiations.

My useful experience

I believe it has been a mixture of experiences that helped me develop my career, I think it’s important to identify overlaps in the different pieces of what you have been doing through schooling, work and free time activities. Some of my biggest learnings came from participating in entrepreneurial programmes, involvement in student-run journal, as well as the always-dreaded group work. Apart from this, a summer internship between my 3rd and 4th year was a valuable experience.

How I arrived at career-decisions

I think career fairs are a great concept. Unfortunately, I have not always found them to be helpful in tangible ways (lack of specific offers presented by the employers, with follow up sessions). Still, they give a good chance to familiarise yourself with potential employers, and to get to know what options are out there. A lot of my career planning was done through online research, chats with friends and family. I would strongly recommend keeping an eye out on events organised by employers on campus – case study days, bootcamps, workshops etc. These have been the most valuable in my view, not only for job search but own learning and development. Something I wish I did more of was to contact people in jobs I was considering, through social media to get a concrete insight into their work. Most of the time people are happy to help, and it’s a good way to get a better understanding of a specific job.

Advice for students interested in my area of work

Add some business-related experience through internships, placements or education for an easier entry. Analyse overlaps and learnings that can be transferred from your experiences to a specific job, there are always many! Contact people in jobs you want to apply for and ask what they think are the most important characteristics of an applicant to see if this is something for you, but also help prepare for an interview.

Advice on making career decisions

I would advise to follow your true interests, and not only rely on rational thinking. Additionally, don’t let the stress of exams, job search and thesis get the better of you – it will all fall into place in the end.

 

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Cara Wase, Insight Analyst, Mediacom

 Cara Wase, Insight Analyst,

Mediacom

LinkedIn profile

Degree  – MA Psychology, 2015

My current job

I’m an Insight Analyst at MediaCom Edinburgh, running a wide variety of market research projects. I manage research from start to finish: writing the survey, managing the field work and then reporting and presenting the results.

I answer questions about consumer behaviour and condense research reports into concise summaries of meaningful insights. I track macrotrends influencing UK consumer behaviour and produce a weekly newsletter about interesting marketing news.

My career history

After graduating in 2015, I started working at MediaCom later that year as a Trainee Insight Analyst. At the start of 2017 I was promoted to Insight Analyst.

Using my degree-skills and/or knowledge in my career

My Psychology background has been very useful for market research. Understanding the human behind the data helps me bring statistics to life.

I’ve always been passionate about statistics and have really enjoyed applying advanced statistical techniques to market research. For example, I recently ran a factor analysis to learn what consumers really value about petrol lawnmowers and found some surprising results which the client was very happy to hear about!

My relevant experience

The careers service was a huge help to me: I went for a practice interview, and the questions the interviewer asked turned out to be very similar to the ones in my actual job interview! At the real interview, I felt confident and prepared, and I got the job!

I really threw myself into my degree, and what I learnt has been so valuable. Being involved in the student magazine was also helpful, since my job involves quite a lot of writing.

My  career decisions

I always wanted to work with statistics, so I chose a Psychology degree because of the statistical component.

I sought out a lot of opportunities and asked smart people for help. Edinburgh University is great because the professors are so approachable.

It’s definitely worth reaching out to people – I asked to assist with a project in second year, and an expanded version of that project became my dissertation in third year. Then, my project was adapted for use in Psychology tutorials! It’s amazing what you can achieve through collaboration.

The careers service was fantastically helpful, providing advice and a practice interview, and my job was even advertised on their vacancy website (now MyCareerHub). I’m very glad that I took advantage of all the career help that was offered.

 Advice to students wanting to get into this area of work

An interest in Psychology is great preparation for market research, since consumers are people, first and foremost.

Even if you aren’t studying psychology, there is great information out there to help you learn about the human mind! I would really recommend Psyblog as a great resource for learning about new and exciting psychology studies.

Advice for students making career decisions today

Do what you love, and be yourself at uni. This is a great chance to try anything out!

For example, I learnt public speaking by joining the stand-up comedy society, and now I feel confident giving important presentations at work.

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Federation of Scottish Theatre – events and membership assistant

Anna Broomfield – Events and Membership Assistant 

 Federation of Scottish Theatre 

LinkedIn profile – Anna Broomfield

 Degree – Psychology 2016

 My current job

 Events and Membership Assistant at Federation of Scottish Theatre. FST is a membership organisation for theatre professionals. We provide networking, training & development, and advocacy for the sector. I am responsible for supporting all aspects of member relations and the delivery of events, including Members’ Meetings, Forums and our annual networking event “Emporium”. My role also includes general office administration, and I provide a first point of contact for existing and potential members.

My career history

During my final year at university, I worked part time with Edinburgh University Students’ Association as Box Office Coordinator. I kept working there until December 2016, whilst also taking on other part time/seasonal work with the Cancer Research Events Team, Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Fringe Society. After this, I did two full time temp positions:

  • Deputy Box Office Manager at the Lyceum Theatre (January – April 2017)
  • Widening Participation Intern at University of Edinburgh (April – September 2017) – Until I finally found a full time, permanent job with FST!

Using my degree-skills in my career

For me, my critical thinking skills have been the most useful. I’ve found these skills really valuable for evaluating myself, the work that I do and the projects I assist.

The skills you get from doing stats and writing up reports are also hugely valuable – I’ve been in roles where I’ve had to provide reports including basic stats to evaluate projects. My report-writing experience from uni was really useful for this. Plus, my experience of using statistics software (e.g. SPSS) means that I’m more confident with my IT skills – once you’ve conquered stats software, Excel spreadsheets feel like a breeze!

Additionally, because Psychology is such a broad subject, there are lots of areas of the subject that I can pull on to inform the work that I do. For example, I can apply the knowledge I gained from studying class in Social Psychology and disability in Perception to make the events I work on more accessible.

My useful experience

I worked part-time from second year onwards (first a receptionist and then an office position at the Students’ Association) and even though it was hard, I found it so valuable. It helped me to understand the kind of work I enjoyed and the work I didn’t, so that I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated. It also helped me to remember that there is a world out there other than essays, exams and deadlines!

My career decisions

A lot of my work experience has come from research. Once I started working at a Fringe venue, I knew I wanted to get into events/theatre/festivals so I:

  • familiarised myself with the different organisations relevant to these areas,
  • found the sites where relevant jobs came up most often  and kept an eye on them.
  • spent time with people who worked in these areas and asked them about their career histories – this was really helpful for highlighting possible routes for myself.

I also attended a couple of careers fairs and a Festivals networking event, but the most valuable support I got from the Careers Service were the practice interviews and appointments to discuss cover letters. Absolutely recommended!

Advice to students interested in this area of work

Work experience and passion are both really important – you need evidence to show that you have the organisational and communication skills needed for arts admin roles, plus an understanding of what it’s like on the ground at the events (this is where my festival experience came in handy). The arts/events/theatre sector can be a lot of hard work for not great pay so employers want to know that you are really dedicated and are going to love the role. So try to get involved in as much as you can and show people how much you enjoy it!

Advice to current students

Keep an open mind – try and get involved in extra-curricular like volunteering or societies, and (if it won’t hurt your studies) try to get some work experience so that you can understand what kind of work you enjoy.

But also don’t worry too much! It’s tough to find the right job but it will happen. Talk to people around you about their career trajectories – this helped me to realise that career progression isn’t linear, and people do all sorts of different roles throughout their life.

 

 

 

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Care worker and communications intern with Launch.ed – Deborah Orr

Deborah (Debbie) OrrDeborah Orr, Enterprise assistant

Edinburgh Innovations

 LinkedIn profile  

Degree – linguistics, graduated 2016.

Current job

I work for Edinburgh Innovations, the commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh. My job title is Enterprise Assistant, and my role involves a mix of communications, marketing, student support, event management and administration. For example, I produce our monthly newsletters, create reports from and update our CRM database, arrange 1-2-1 meetings with our team of expert business advisers, and help to run entrepreneurial events.

Career history

When I graduated, I got a position in a graduate scheme in telecom sales. For various reasons I realised quickly that this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing long term, and resigned. Rather than rushing into another full-time job I wasn’t sure about, I decided to take 6 months or so to work multiple part-time jobs, to learn about what was important to me in the workplace. I got three zero-hours contracts (babysitting, tutoring and proofreading) which allowed me to pick up a few hours per week. More importantly, I secured two jobs which I worked at two days per week: one in a dementia-specialist care home, and one in Edinburgh Innovations who I soon ended up working for full-time and where I have now been an employee for a year and a half.

 Using my degree skills and knowledge

Much of the specialist knowledge acquired during my linguistics degree hasn’t been necessary for my career, as it would if I had gone on to become a linguistics researcher or speech and language therapist, for example. However, having a good degree from such a reputable university as the University of Edinburgh was certainly a door opener, and I certainly developed transferable skills during my degree which I use regularly in work, such as in writing, researching, analysing and time management.

Useful experience

I invested a lot of time during university in gaining experience in a range of areas. I worked in the RAF and in hospitality, and gained work experience in a law firm, primary school and a PR firm. I also did some volunteering at my church and with charities. When it came to job applications these things showed that I was a well-rounded and driven candidate.

If you don’t know for certain what career path you intend to follow, I really recommend putting time into trying new things out! Use some of those long summer weeks to experience various jobs. You never know, you may stumble on something you love – but at the very least you will find out what kind of work doesn’t suit you and learn what you would value in a work situation.

Support for my career decisions

I used the Careers Service quite a lot by attending fairs, CV clinics, and workshops about assessment centres and cover letters. The University of Edinburgh is fortunate to have such a strong and supportive careers service, so make the most of it!

Advice for students interested in my area of work

If you want to work in enterprise, start by getting involved with the entrepreneurship-focused companies and societies in Edinburgh (e.g. LAUNCH.ed, the e-club, Business Gateway), and try to get experience working for a business or social enterprise start-up. Even better, set up your own business!

Advice on making your career decisions

Make a job, don’t take a job! If you have ever had the notion that you might like to run your own business, get in touch with Launch.ed for some advice on exploring that option. Edinburgh and Scotland have a fantastic entrepreneurial ecosystem – the level of funding, support and community for entrepreneurs is incredible.

More generally speaking, don’t panic if you don’t know right away what you want to do as a career – but do work hard at gaining experience, and make the most of what the Careers Service has to offer.

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George Gunn, Advertising Content Strategist, Leith Agency

 

George GunnGeorge Gunn  

Advertising Content Strategist, The Leith Agency

LinkedIn profile

My degree MA Philosophy (grad 2012)

My current job

Content Strategist at The Leith Agency. Role involves maximising the impact of online campaigns and activity through planning, writing, publishing, managing, analysing and optimising digital content for clients including IRN-BRU and The Famous Grouse.

My career history (Jan 2018)

After finishing my A Levels I spent a year in Brighton completing a Diploma in Music Performance. I then moved to Edinburgh to study Philosophy. For two and a half years after graduation I worked a number of part-time roles, including social media management, music tuition, and front of house / bar duties in Edinburgh’s King’s and Festival theatres. This allowed me the flexibility I needed at the time to record and tour with my band. I’ve been at Leith in a full-time role for three years now.

Using my degree skills and knowledge in my career.

Although there’s not much everyday use for dualism, time paradoxes and a lot of other things I learned about during my Philosophy degree, the skills I honed have been invaluable. In particular, analytical thinking (advertising is basically one big problem-solving exercise), digging through materials for insights, and presenting ideas in a clear, persuasive way are all skills I regularly call upon.

My relevant experience

All my experience, even bad experience, has been useful. I’ve found the most important thing has been to put myself out there, try new things, and to keep learning wherever possible. A lot of jobs require broad skillsets, so it’s not a bad idea to branch out. Having said this, you obviously don’t want your CV to be too disjointed. In terms of technical skills, my part-time social media management work helped me get into my current role.

My career decisions

My first priority after graduating was to find enough part-time work (I needed the flexibility at the time). When it came to looking for full-time roles, I basically wrote down three lists: things I enjoy, things I’m good at (and not good at), and things I had experience of at the time. Then I tried to mesh these into a Venn diagram of sorts to see if any obvious career choices fell out. It’s a good exercise if you don’t know what you want to do, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach!

Advice for current students interested in my area of work

Come along to networking events and make yourself known. Blog, make yourself a scrapbook of ideas, tweet, or just do anything to show your enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid of emailing people for advice either. It’s quite a well-connected industry – so even if your contacts can’t help you, you’ll often find a willing friend or colleague of theirs who’ll oblige. Do stuff and hustle, basically.

Advice on making career decisions for current students

Keep an eye on trends and technological developments. Quite a few job roles won’t exist in a few years’ time. On the other hand, there’s huge growth in certain areas. Also, be realistic with yourself. By all means dream about being a movie star, novelist, DJ, or whatever, and do your best to make it happen! But it’s always wise to have a contingency plan.

 

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Harriet Shaw, Sales and Marketing Executive, Mackie’s

Harriet Shaw, MA (Hons) English Language & Linguistics (2015)

Sales and Marketing, Mackie’s Crisps, Taypack

Harriet on LinkedIn

My current job

Sales & Marketing Executive at Mackie’s at Taypack – looking after all Marketing for our product range of Mackie’s crisps & popcorn. This includes our digital marketing, organising trade & consumer shows, sending out press releases and producing any marketing material or graphics, amongst other things.

 My career history

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh I set to look for a job in Marketing. I was pointed in the direction of ScotGrad who provide placements for graduates in Scotland with small & medium sized companies in a number of sectors. I secured a one year placement with Mackie’s at Taypack as the Assistant Brand Manager, working in a 2-person Marketing team. Once the year was up they kept me on as the Sales & Marketing Executive which is now my current role. I currently oversee the entire Marketing department and assist the Sales team when needed.

Using my degree skills and/or knowledge in my work

As my degree wasn’t in Marketing the skills I gained from my degree that I’m using currently are more general skills taken from University such as report writing, creating presentations, analysing data and working to a deadline.

However, the awareness of differences in languages and cultures that I gained through studying Linguistics has come in handy when dealing with our export markets. The differing meanings and implications of word choice and order in the English Language also come into play when writing content or considering packaging information.

My useful experience 

One experience from university that I found extremely useful when interviewing for jobs was my role as Social Secretary for the University of Edinburgh Triathlon Club (EUTri). This position gave me experience in a number of things including social media, event organising and general social skills – all of which I could bring to interviews as examples. Being part of the EUTri committee also demonstrated team work and taking on extra responsibility whilst also completing my studies – and it was great fun!

I also believe my genuine interest and passion for the Scottish Food & Drink industry has helped me in my career, despite having no experience in Marketing I managed to secure my position at Mackie’s by showing an enthusiasm towards the industry and a willingness to learn.

My Career Decisions

In the last few months at University I made use of the Careers Service. This helped me realise the sort of jobs that were open to me with my PPLS degree and gave me a direction in my career search, which up until then seemed extremely overwhelming! This led me into the direction of roles in Marketing as I had some general skills from my degree that were suited to this area of work.

It wasn’t until I found ScotGrad and saw the Marketing roles that were on offer within Scottish Food & Drink companies that I realised where my area of interest lay.

One of the best decisions I made when career hunting was to take a small tablet with me when going interrailing after graduation – this allowed me to keep an eye on and apply for ScotGrad placements that came up whilst I was away. If it wasn’t for this I wouldn’t have been able to apply for the position in Mackie’s.

My advice to current students 

If your interest lies in Marketing roles, my advice would be to work in an industry that interests you or that you’re passionate about – I find it so much easier to get excited about marketing something that I believe in and can feel proud to represent.

For me, I’ve also found it really beneficial starting off my career in a small, family-run business – I have found it a great way to get involved in a number of areas in the business, quickly gaining knowledge and responsibility over a short space of time.

If you’re particularly interested in Scottish Food & Drink then keep an eye out for roles on ScotGrad; there are a number of great small and medium sized companies in the Food & Drink industry who are regularly looking for graduate support and it’s a great way of getting your foot in the door. It’s also a really friendly tight knit industry and I have always found those in similar roles to myself in other companies always willing to help with any queries I have.

My general advice when making career decisions 

Make use of the help available to you from your University and those around you, there are a lot of people who would be very happy to help you on your way but you just have to ask the question!

 

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Collections Information Officer – A National Charity

Collections Information Officer – A National Charity

My degree: Linguistics, 2013

My current job (Feb 2017)

I work as a Collections Information Officer at a charity holding museum and heritage collections. This involves managing and providing access to information about these collections, being the admin of the Collections Database software and training staff to use it. I also chair the meetings where any new acquisitions or loans are discussed and agreed. It’s hugely varied – one day I can be cleaning up terminology and keeping track of moved objects, another day building a new database module, and another out at a property listing objects and training volunteers. All the while I’m also available by phone or email if anyone needs help with the database or a number for a new acquisition. It’s part of a specialism in the museum sector known as Collections Management.

My career history

 After graduating I didn’t know what I wanted to do but decided I wanted to stay in Edinburgh. The intention was that front-of-house/hospitality roles would provide enough to live on while I applied for graduate-level work. However in practice, the long and unpredictable shifts on zero-hour contracts meant I did not have the time or energy for the in-depth application processes, so I took a chance on quitting this work to focus all my effort on getting a job that would be a better stepping stone. I spoke with the Careers Service at this point and they advised signing up with temp agencies. I was accepted by Crossmatch Recruitment, who thought my CV would be a good fit for a “1 month, maybe longer” assignment with the charity. This was delayed but I was offered other assignments in the meantime. I eventually called again to ask if the initial position was still likely to go ahead and was told I could start that week! It was all data entry at first but I soon became the expert on the database, so was given admin rights. Thanks to a string of extensions and fixed term contracts I have been with them ever since, now in a permanent full-time graduate-level role.

Using my degree skills and/or knowledge

Although Linguistics is not the usual way into this sector, I feel it has been very helpful, even if I often have to explain what it was and how it helps! My role covers elements of more traditional Linguistics careers such as lexicography (controlling terminology, maintaining the thesaurus of object names and categories), and  publishing (writing style guides and copy-editing object descriptions). Modules in Scots have proved invaluable when working with Burns manuscripts! More generally, analytical skills and attention to detail help to give me the edge over arts graduates who would be better qualified on paper. The need to be methodical in allocating numbers to objects uses a lot of the skills from coursework. Syntax helps with putting together queries for advanced object searching and automating data cleaning. Semantics could be useful too, as more and more museums are uploading data to the Semantic Web.

 My useful experience

A big part of the agency picking me up was the way I had arranged my CV to put administrative experience at the top, giving equal weight to both work and society roles. This meant I didn’t have to put the less-relevant hospitality work at the top even though it was more recent. In particular my Secretary and Librarian roles in Edinburgh University Wind Band stood out to the agent and meant I was offered assignments that I probably wouldn’t have got purely based on my work experience.

My career decisions

I did attend careers fairs but found these difficult without an idea for a starting point, and found a lot of the application processes off-putting as they so often want to see that you’re interested in them in particular. Lots of people (not careers advisers! Ed) tell you “just apply for everything” but it’s just not feasible to write dozens of bespoke applications for things you aren’t sure you want to do, so I made a deliberate decision not to waste time on roles that didn’t interest me. Applying to office temp agencies turned out to be the best decision I made as it gave me a foothold, and the agency found a perfect fit for me that I’d never have thought of myself!

Advice to students interested in my role

Volunteer! If I’d known about Collections Management work from the start, I would have sought out voluntary roles. I’m now in a position where I recruit and manage volunteers, and though I don’t have the power to give them paid work, lots of employees here did start out as volunteers. But do understand there might not necessarily be a paid role – the best volunteers let their enthusiasm and dedication shine through to the point where they become indispensable naturally.

If you’re the right kind of person for Collections Management you’ll know instinctively – if you like everything to be organised and labelled, have drawers full of stationery, own your own filing cabinet

Advice on making your career decisions

It’s helpful to think about the sectors you’re interested in rather than fixating on the job title or responsibilities – because I knew I was interested in the charity/museum sector, I was able to work my way up from an initially very repetitive data entry assignment into a permanent graduate-level role. Luck and good timing got me the initial position (as it was never advertised) so if you get an opportunity like that, make the most if it.

I’d also advise against taking a low-paid job that’s not relevant to your career just to pay the bills, as the time and morale you lose outweighs the money you’ll make.

Talk to the Careers Service – I felt stupid going in with no idea what to do but they were always really helpful!

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