Eilidh Syme is 24 years old and from Crieff, Scotland. She has just completed her Graduate Traineeship and has been accepted for an internship in New York by the prestigious Mountbatten Institute. Here she describes her experiences as both a student, employee and alumnus of Edinburgh Napier University.
I graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2012 with a BA (Hons) Business Management with Marketing with First Class Honours. Just a few weeks ago, I graduated from the University once again; this time as a staff member and with an MSc in Management with Marketing.
When I graduated with my BA, I had nothing lined up and I remember feeling so lost because I had no idea where I wanted to work or what I wanted to do. I applied for a handful of jobs, but was never offered them; “there was a candidate with more experience” was the usual feedback. But my mum kept saying the same few phrases which kept me going: “Good things come to those who wait” and “What’s for you, won’t go by you”.
She was right. A year later, I started as a Graduate Management Trainee at Edinburgh Napier University. It was the perfect role for me – it offered a variety of experiences in different areas and supported the completion of an MSc. My new role involved four six-month placements, three of which I could choose. For my first placement, I was assigned an administration role at The Business School. Although daunting, I was thrilled to be back and working with lecturers who had taught me and staff who had helped me along the way.
This first role provided me with a great insight into the operations of the University, particularly The Business School. I worked on great projects such as the promotion of the Global Online Programmes, an overseas development spreadsheet with the three Heads of School and launched the Centre for Mental Health and Incapacity, Law, Rights and Policy. I got to know how the academic side of the ‘business’ functioned and I assisted with the organisation of events such as the Open Days. I worked closely with admin staff, lecturers and the senior management so had a very rounded experience. I suppose I had never really thought about what went on behind the scenes as an undergraduate student. What can I say? It is a complex business!
After my first six months in The Business School I moved to the International Development and External Affairs team (which later became External Relations and Communications), where I took on a Marketing and Communications Assistant role. I worked on social media, publications, branding, internal communications and campaigns – to name but a few! During my second week in the team there was a small fire at our Merchiston Campus and to say I was thrown in the deep end with managing the University social media channels is an understatement! It was great – not the fire obviously – but learning on-the-job crisis communications, experiencing that essential team work and receiving excellent feedback for my efforts from the senior management team. It was during that week that I decided Marketing and Communications was the profession for me. I enjoyed the six month placement so much that I stayed for a full year (and a bit) before joining the Alumni and Events team.
My most recent role involves assisting with the management and coordination of events, some alumni relations responsibilities and lots of spreadsheets! I was involved in some really fun events including the Staff Summer Social Party, Chancellor Tim Waterstone’s Farewell event and graduations. Again, it was great to see how much effort is involved in pulling these events off. As a student I had no awareness of the corporate events the University held.
Each placement has offered me a very different experience and skill set and I have learned so much during my traineeship. Working at Edinburgh Napier University has been very different to the student experience, so I especially enjoyed working on the project to update of the University’s brand through the visual identity and messaging. I felt this project really pulled together my experience as an undergraduate student, an alumnus, a postgraduate student and a staff member allowing me to reflect on my brand experience during each phase.
Balancing work, study and some kind of social life has been tough throughout the trainee scheme and there have been times I have wanted to pull my hair out, particularly during my dissertation. I did get time off for lectures but I essentially worked full time and studied part time. But what made it all worth it was crossing the stage in the Usher Hall, thinking “I did it!” as I graduated in front of all my classmates, friends, colleagues and family with an Master’s. That made is extra special.
Edinburgh Napier has become my professional and academic home. I have made such great friends, both from my studies and working here. I have the best memories made over my six years here and I am sad that my traineeship has come to an end, but I am also ready for my next adventure… NYC here I come!