Recent PPLS alumnus Debbie took an interesting approach to finding a career-direction that worked for her – she tried out 5 jobs at once! And she’s found it a great way to work out what she was really interested in and enjoyed (having started, then resigned from, a grad scheme which didn’t deliver for her what she’d hoped).
Read Debbie’s career story below, and her advice for current students trying to navigate their way through the career-maze.
And meet Debbie in person at our upcoming ‘Life Beyond your Degree’ social event for PPLS students Thurs 1st Feb, 5-7.30. She’s one of the alumni coming back to talk about their experience of ‘Life Beyond’ university. Sign up now if you haven’t already.
Care worker/communications intern with Launch.ed
Degree – linguistics, graduated 2016.
Believe it or not, I currently have five jobs! Three of them are zero-hours contracts (babysitting, tutoring and proofreading) which allow me to pick up a few hours here and there, but I have two core jobs which I work at two days per week each.
First, I work as an intern for Launch.ed, a company which helps University of Edinburgh staff and students start up new businesses. My role involves a mix of communications (via newsletters, social media and blogging), marketing and event management.
Second, I work as a Care Worker in a dementia specialist care home, where my job involves ensuring the residents’ physical, medicinal, nutritional, emotional, social and spiritual needs are met. A normal shift is filled with assisting residents with eating, doing laundry, running activities such as quizzes, carrying out personal care, and managing individual’s care plans.
When I first 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 job I wasn’t sure about, I decided to take this year (2016-2017) to try multiple part-time jobs, as I am doing now. This has given me the time and space to learn what I value in a job, an employer, what kind of work motivates me most, and more!
Using my degree skills and knowledge
Much of the specialist knowledge acquired during my degree isn’t needed for either of my jobs. However, linguistics is all about communication, and there’s no doubt that an in-depth understanding of communication helps when marketing and creating online content, and when communicating with elderly people whose communication skills are deteriorating due to dementia. 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 – working in the RAF and in hospitality, involvement at church and a little charity volunteering, and work experience in a law firm, primary school and a PR firm… If you don’t know for certain what career path you intend to follow, I really recommend putting time into trying new things out! 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 attending some of the events run by entrepreneurship-focused companies and societies in Edinburgh, and try to get experience working for a start-up. If you want to work in the care sector, it’s important to be able to demonstrate that you are committed to caring for the needs of others, and that you are responsible and hard-working. Therefore a good place to start would be gaining experience in caring for others, either paid or voluntary.
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.