My final post as career consultant with PPLS

This is my last day as career consultant to PPLS students – I’ve been working with the School since 2011 – and am now retiring after 20 years here at Edinburgh University.

It’s been great working with you, as individuals, in groups small and large, and via a variety of media – from blog posts,  newsletters, email, Twitter, Collaborate, webpages  and more. There will be a sadness in leaving this work behind, even as I look forward to new opportunities as I start a new stage in my life.

You’re an inspiring group of people to work with, and achieve great things. I’ve always particularly enjoyed the Life Beyond your PPLS degree event, as it gives me the opportunity to get a fuller story of your pathways after graduation. Check out these stories of your recent alumni via the PPLS Case Study blog.  – they make fascinating reading, and are full of useful ideas and advice from grads who were so recently in your shoes.

I’m passing the role to my experienced colleague Rebecca Valentine – you’ll be in safe hands. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Rebecca in the coming months as she takes up the role of supporting you in all things Careers-related during your time here at Edinburgh, (and for 2 years after graduation!).

And just before I sign off for good, I’ll use this final post to signpost you to your own school-specific web pages – a great place to get started on your career-research, if you haven’t already.

Farewell, and all the best for your future at Edinburgh and beyond.

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Policy and Research work – careers using the PPLS skill-set.

…..‘any degree from the school of PPLS will provide you with a useful foundation for working in the field of policy advice’, states Edinburgh Philosophy graduate Liz, who has developed her career in policy work.

Your research skills, data analysis, critical thinking, effective communication skills – and more – can all be put to good use in this rather low-profile career area. There’s a surprisingly  wide range of organisations from government to think tanks to pressure groups, voluntary and charity organisations and consultancies, which employ people in policy and research roles.

Download and read the latest insights on Working in Policy and Research from our  speakers at the recent Policy and Research panel event to find out more about this diverse career area from people who know.

And for more on what this area is all about, and hints for getting into policy and research work – check out all are resources on this fascinating career area.

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Psychology in Business – it could take you places!

My last post highlighted how philosophy skills can be useful for business. This week we look at how you can put your psychology skills to good use in a general business context – (not just Occupational Psychology) and work in some interesting in places.

Recent Edinburgh psychology graduate Olga completed the Heineken graduate development programme, and has already worked in the Netherlands, Myanmar and Mexico, and will soon be off to Brazil for her next project.

Olga highlights the usefulness of

  • theories regarding group think, motivation, judgement and behaviour for explaining situations encountered in the work life, allowing deeper understanding, but also empathy for colleagues.
  • knowledge of personality styles and cognition can be of great help if leadership positions where people development are your aim
  • knowledge of perception and memory is a big advantage during presentations, idea pitching and even negotiations.

– as well as skills and insights gained from extra-curricular activities.

Read more on Olga’s career history, and how it has developed since graduating in psychology from Edinburgh in 2015, to a global career with Heineken in 2018.

And search for opportunities in a variety of different business areas via MyCareerHub and grad-job websites including:




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Philosopher-in-residence – an opportunity in business?

There’s a great article in the Guardian this week about the positive role philosophy graduates can plays in businessI work, therefore I am; why businesses are hiring philosophy graduates.

Your skills in questioning and truth-seeking are seen as a great asset to businesses to ensure  ‘business leaders interrogate the role played by their product or service in the global scheme of things, “not only to see whether something makes sense in the marketplace, but also to see whether its existence is actually justified”.’

If you’ve read any of the articles and blogposts written by Edinburgh philosophy grad Lee Madden, (now working as a consultant for EY ), you’ll know he’s long been an advocate of  philosophy critical thinking and questioning skills for effective business practice. You can read his take on this via his post on philosophy skills in the workplace.

He was also the inspiration behind the posters ‘Your Philosophy Skills in the Workplace

Your philosophy skills can be applied in so many different workplaces. Where do you want to use yours?

If you need a handy website to get you started on this – take a look at the webpage ‘Philosophy and your Future


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Focused careers information for all the PPLS subjects – Philosophy, Psychology, Linguistics and Cognitive Science


In response to the above feedback that it’s hard to find specific information for your subject, we pulled together specific information for each School. Find the PPLS subject information and resources at the links belowstart exploring possibilities now!



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Still looking for something productive to do in the long vacation…..?

spring sunset 400x175

Then check out MyCareerHub! – there’re still lots of summer work opportunities being advertised there.  From summer play-worker to Historic Scotland visitor assistant, heaps of Festival opportunities, activity leader,  summer camps at home an abroad……there’s still a wide range of things to apply for – browse MyCareerHub now!

If there’s nothing there that grabs your attention, check out other opportunities via the links on our Vacation work and Internship web pages, or Volunteer to gain experience and make a difference.

Experience doesn’t have to have the word ‘internship’ attached to it to be valuable! In many areas  structured internships either don’t exist, or you have to work harder and be proactive to track them down. Read how one PPLS student networked his way to work experience with the Scotsman.

Read the PPLS grad case studies blog for more inspiration – lots of ideas from recent grads on the work and experience they gained whilst at university (check the Career History and Relevant Experience sections).

Make the most of your summer to enhance your skills and experience, widen your horizons, and maybe even make some money!

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It’s CCCF week – time to get creative with your career!

I’ve been mentioning our annual Creative and Cultural Careers Festival in recent weeks, and now it’s here (5-9th March) – so make the most of it whilst you can!

(And if you’ve not sorted your summer out yet – there’s also a session on finding work in the Edinburgh Festivals – with reps from 8 or more different festivals – so there’s something for everyone!).

Many PPLS grads find their skills and interests fit well with Creative and Cultural careers, including as it does:

Examples of PPLS grads working in these areas include

So check out the whole week’s programme, sign up for anything you’re interested in, and discover the wide range of opportunities to put your PPLS skills to work in the creative and cultural field.

And if you’re keen to learn more about these areas of work, read our comprehensive resources on these career areas.

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Sustainable careers – not restricted to certain disciplines – opportunities for PPLS students with a passion for the environment

We recently hosted an Eco careers week, with a focus on sustainable careers, and I know some PPLS students missed out on some of the events. If that’s you, or you’re curious about the wide range of opportunities in this area, and how to get into it, you’re luck’s in, as our great information team have pulled together a summary of the main event, Careers in Sustainability, so you don’t have to miss out.

Read Top tips from the panel of experts, watch the video from the event,  and explore the relevant links to find out more about this fascinating, wide-ranging and vital career area.

“Careers in Sustainability – Explore the World of Environmental Careers”

Our panel of speakers were from a range of disciplines and shared their insights:

  • The event was chaired by Professor Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management and Education, University of Edinburgh. He is also designer and editor of the climate change science website Greenhouse Gas Online and the Southern Ocean: Antarctic Seas and Wildlife website.
  • Stuart Brown, Zero Carbon Options Development Manager, University of Edinburgh. A Rolls-Royce trained Engineer with more than 25 years in business and entrepreneurship. Stuart now leads the team within the Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability focusing exclusively on renewable energy and low carbon projects.
  • Kate Chambers, Recycling Advisor at Vegware Ltd, a plant-based food packaging company based in Edinburgh. Kate is also Chair of Communications with the 2050 Climate Group. With an MLitt in Environmental Communication, Kate is interested in finding new ways to talk about and tackle climate-based issues.
  • Rebecca Petford, Scotland Programme Manager, Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) which supports all universities and colleges in Scotland to embed sustainability. Rebecca is a University of Edinburgh alumnus with an MSc in Environment, Culture and Society.
  • Sandy MacDonald, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Standard Life Aberdeen Plc. After studying Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, Sandy worked briefly in book publishing in London. He joined Standard Life, initially working in a technical role, and completed a Chartered Institute of Marketing diploma. He now has over 15 years’ experience in senior marketing, communications, government relations and corporate social responsibility roles.

Their top tips for getting a career in the environmental and sustainability sectors were:

Get involved at university

Make something happen…you can find a list of relevant societies on the Students’ Association website.

Volunteering – it can help build a network organically

Remember, everyone you meet could be a useful resource at some stage in your career.  Check out our guest blog post from the Students’ Association Volunteering Service on the top six reasons for getting involved in Volunteering, and how you can find out more.

Jobs and networking go together

When you build your network, you can hear about more job opportunities. Follow our advice to make the most of networking and how to use LinkedIn effectively.

A career in Sustainability is not restricted to certain disciplines

You don’t need to be a scientist to be involved in sustainability! Be open to different opportunities to gain transferable skills and apply the theory aspect. Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate!

In need of some inspiration? Read this blog article from Andy Baker, a University of Edinburgh Alumnus, who studied Ecology and Environmental Science on his journey to becoming an Assistant Forest Manager at Tilhill Forestry – one of the exhibitors at our event.

“NO” stands for next opportunity

Try not to take job rejections personally as there could be various reasons as to why you may have been unsuccessful. Be resilient and continue to submit applications as securing a role can take time.

Next steps?

You may be interested in:

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An educational psychology career – get the lowdown from someone who knows!

A recent psychology careers seminar featured Heather Garton, Depute principal Educational psychologist for Edinburgh City Council. Heather did a great job explaining the role of the Educational Psychologist in Scotland, and giving an insight into the range of activities that make up the work of an Ed Psych. You can download her very informative slides at the link below.

A career as an Educational Psychologist

If you’ve got any queries about this career area, Heather is happy for you to contact her – her email is on the slides.

And if you’re wondering just what experience might be useful for preparing you for the Ed Psych training course, below you’ll find a list of jobs/experience gained by recent students on the Dundee course, before getting onto the course there, to spark your ideas – it’s not exhaustive!

  • Assistant educational psychologist
  • Teacher/TEFL teacher
  • Assistant in a special school / Teaching assistant / learning support assistant
  • Learning mentor / tutor
  • Early years worker, Childcare Worker / Nursery Assistant
  • Undergraduate psychology dissertation and placements
  • SureStart volunteer
  • Homework club volunteer
  • Educational social work
  • Youth and community worker/ Youth advocacy
  • Play worker
  • Childline volunteer
  • Parent advocate
  • Family support worker/ Child support worker
  • Camp counsellor (eg Camp America)
  • Children’s clubs eg Brownies, CHV (Children’s Holiday Venture)
  • Research assistant
  • Outdoor instructor/ Clubs/Sports Coaching experience

For more ideas, and where to look for opportunities, read the Educational Psychology section of the handout ‘My Psychology Degree, Where Next?’, available here.

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Get prepared to nail that interview!

Interviews, as well as essay and dissertation deadlines, and exam revision are looming large on the student horizon, at present, if the uptake of  practice interview slots with our Careers Consultants is anything to go by. Whether it’s for graduate jobs, internships, summer jobs or further study courses – make sure you’re as well prepared as possible to nail that interview. (previous students have compared the preparation process to revising for an exam!)

For the full lowdown on what you may face in a 21st century interview – take a look at this webpage on Interviews – Traditional, new and emerging formats – and how to prepare.


  • How to prepare
  • Different types of interview formats
  • types of questioning you may face – and tips on how to answer them
  • what to do – and not do – before, during and after the interview
  • further sources of support for interviews

.this webpage can help take your preparation to a new level.

Make sure you’re as prepared as possible for anything an interview can throw at you – including the unexpected!  Start here.



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