Welcome to our newest alumni

The value in short-term work

Making short-term plans is often part of our career journeys after graduation, but temporary, seasonal and stop-gap roles don't have to feel like treading water. We spoke with a group of Edinburgh graduates who tell us how taking on short-term jobs and being open-minded about experiences has enhanced their skillset and subsequent career choices.

Jamie

Jamie

Economics and Politics (2021), and now studying for his masters.

The experience that has been perhaps the most unexpected but rewarding for me was founding an events management start-up, something I work on in my spare time. When I was an undergrad student, I loved making the most of the Edinburgh nightlife scene. I delved into it as soon as I arrived as a fresher and was fascinated to learn that some of the city’s largest nightclub events were being organised by students. It inspired me to learn the business and involve myself. Fast forward a few years, and I have established and now run two weekly club nights. I have loved the practice of negotiating with nightclubs and brands, and building a team around me, and the business and organisational skills I've developed are invaluable.

Ariana

Ariana

Public Health (2021). Currently working in a non-profit focused on patient safety.

One temporary position I remember well was when I decided to go the unconventional route to find work. I applied to take part in some research studies where I’d be paid a few pounds at a time to participate. Some of the studies I remember were audio related where I had to go into a room with headphones and a microphone and decipher what was being said in through the headphones and repeat it into the microphone. I was told that particular one was going to help Siri get better. They were a lot of fun and I learned that even the most peculiar or low-paid jobs can help you grow. I still had to show up on time to get paid and I had to have a sharp mind - it kept me going.

Niels

Niels

International Relations (2019). Niels is now working in various United Nations programmes.

I've had a few part-time seasonal jobs that certainly had an impact on me. These include interning at the Ecuadorian Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, working for a catering company in Edinburgh, and working for two consecutive years as a Counsellor with the Oxford Royale Academy, the UK's most established and innovative summer school provider. 

Looking back at things you did while a student  and finding what skillset they might have given you, is really useful, too. For example, a job I took while still studying and that I believe made me in some ways more "employable" after graduation was working as a student caller at the Alumni Office where I helped fundraise for the University's learning and development grants,

The different jobs I've done have really enabled me to develop and enhance certain professional and interpersonal skills as well as given me the opportunity to expand my network and gain work experience in different contexts and environments. 

Gemma

Gemma

International Relations (2018), Environmental Sustainability (2020), and now a Scottish government researcher.

My advice to any new graduate would be ‘trust the process’. When I first graduated and didn’t land that dream job straight away, I felt like I had failed. However, it set me on a path that I didn’t think was possible for me. Looking back I realise that all experiences are valuable. It forced me to really tune into what I want out of life, and it took me right back to the University of Edinburgh! Be kind to yourself and trust in the process – things will work out.  

Patricia

Patricia

Performance Costume (2018) - Patti recently retrained as a teacher.

After graduation I found jobs in different cities and started an itinerant lifestyle. There were difficult times and big decisions to be made in terms of the flexibility of my geographical location and I threw myself into new opportunities and changes with a positive mindset.

I believe that building community is key for personal and collective survival in any profession. Be strategic in your approach when accepting jobs. Building up a clear specialised skillset and direction in your career, will help you define yourself as a professional. Keep strong, remain faithful to your ideals and connect with your community of practice. Exercise your resilience and take care of your mental health treasuring your time when you are not working.

Nicolas

Nicolas

Ecological Economics (2012), currently working as a coach, blacksmith and conservationist.

Look for opportunities beyond your traditional career trajectory. I was also fortunate to find a master blacksmith just outside Edinburgh who took me on as an apprentice during my degree. While I left Scotland after my degree, these foundational experiences continued to grow and eventually coalesced when I was given the opportunity to write an instructional book on blacksmithing. 

Janmejoy

Janmejoy

International Business and Emerging Markets (2016), and now working in Indian trade promotion.

By the time my masters was over, I had a total of eight years of education and career experience after high school. Whether a career could be both fun and challenging was still a question for me. So I wanted to test my capabilities and learnings in a different way.

I took a junior role in the creative field in Mumbai, India. It took a lot of courage and patience to convince my parents and, importantly, strength to tread a path where I hadn't intend to.

I did theatre, some acting classes, learned the business model - including how the business works in one of the world's biggest entertainment industry, Bollywood. And after about a year spent in the entertainment industry, I joined a top Germany-based consulting firm, using the very transferable skills I had learned, and flourished from there.