Life and career – another approach – from a PPLS grad.

career imageThe word ‘career’ is fraught with associations and assumptions – some common ones are listed below:

  • that it only refers to the  work you do which is paid. Something that you do because it’s your passion, but may be hard to earn a living from  – arts, writing etc, to name but a few – (see below for Lee’s experience re journalism), can sometimes be felt ‘not to count’ as part of the totality of your ‘career’
  • to be a career, it must be a graduate scheme, training or professional programme etc. Working in areas where this in not the norm (the arts, much of the voluntary/charity sector etc etc) is sometimes not seen as coming under the umbrella word ‘career’
  • it’s all about working for the big household name companies and organisations, small ones ‘don’t count’ – they are ‘just jobs’.

…… and there are many more – you may well have some of your own!

We at the Careers Service are always keen to do what we can to counter such assumptions, as we have a wide range of information, advice and events aimed at very different approaches to your Career, and support you all as individuals to work out the right path for you. Our Career.Ed programme tries to support you to do just that, as do our occupational resources and events, awards, advice and guidance sessions etc etc.

One PPLS who ‘walks the walk’ with his own career path is administrative assistant Lee, who earns his crust from a (‘surprisingly interesting’) administrative position here at the university, whilst following his journalistic, social, environmental and digital justice aspirations in his life beyond paid work.

Read on to find out more about how Lee organises his life to enable him to follow his passion, and keep a roof over his head, via the case study he recently wrote for the PPLS event ‘Life Beyond Your PPLS Degree’:

Lee  – Administrative Assistant, University of Edinburgh Careers Service,

Degree subject and year of graduation – Philosophy and Mathematics (2010)

My current job (Feb 2014)

I currently work as an Administrative Assistant for the University of Edinburgh Careers Service, providing technical and administrative assistance to members of the Careers Service staff. The role is extremely varied, but I spend most of my time currently assisting with the annual survey of graduates, providing analysis of this data and providing IT support.

Alongside this I am a founding editor of Post, a journalism collective interested in issues of social, environmental and digital justice. We produce a quarterly magazine as well as ongoing content online.

I also volunteer as blog editor for the Scotland chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

My career history to date

After graduating from Edinburgh I studied for a Masters in Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics, taking up my current role at the University not long after I graduated in Winter 2012. During my studies in Edinburgh and London I worked in a number of roles, most notably including working as an Editorial Assistant for the web team of the Humanities and Social Sciences here at Edinburgh, and as a student assistant for the Careers Service at the LSE.

Perhaps more important however are the volunteer experiences I gained during my studies. At Edinburgh I became editor of The Student, and went on to complete a number of work experiences and internships in journalism. The highlight was an internship at The Ecologist. At the LSE I was heavily involved in the Green Party and gained good experience of political organising during the student protests of 2010.

How I’ve used the skills and/or knowledge developed during my degree in my career

My mathematical background and technological know-how has been highly relevant in my current role at the University, as data analysis constitutes a large part of my work at present. The critical thinking and research skills developed through studying philosophy are highly relevant to the work I do with Post.

Experiences which helped me get where I am now?  – work experience, degree, voluntary work, interests etc

The experience I gained at The Student and the internship at The Ecologist were invaluable. I developed my skills but also learned what I enjoyed, and what I didn’t enjoy, about journalism. Those experiences were crucial in shaping Post. The organisational work I did for the Green Party at the LSE was also highly relevant to the work I do now in organising a journalism collective.

For the work I do at the Careers Service, I think the experience gained at the HSS web team and for the Careers Service at LSE were very useful. I learned a lot about the work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ at a University.

Reflections on my career path between graduation and my current job – career decisions I made and how

The biggest decision I made was to involve myself in alternative media, rather than attempt to forge a career in commercial journalism. This largely came about through the work experience I gained up to that point, and through the gradual realisation of what I enjoyed and what I wanted to achieve.

My advice to students who want to get into this area of work

In alternative media there are lots of interesting projects out there who are desperate to hear from like-minded people with talent and enthusiasm. Find the ones you particularly respect, get in touch and take it from there.

General advice for students making career decisions today

Get lots of experience wherever you can, not just because it is good for your CV, but it will help you figure out what you actually enjoy and what you want to do.

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