Deborah Orr, Enterprise assistant
Degree – linguistics, graduated 2016.
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.
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.
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.