Alumni Services

We are you

Graduation can be exciting and daunting in equal measure, but you continue to be part of the University of Edinburgh community of alumni who can support you. We know that it's always good to hear from those who've been there, so we've taken the burning questions you are asking yourself and put them to a selection of recent graduates who have made various life journeys since their time at Edinburgh.

Natalie Berry

Natalie Berry

Natalie studied French and German and graduated in 2014. She is now a professional climber and is Editor-in-Chief of UKClimbing.com.

What has been your biggest challenge since leaving the University and what have you learned from it?

I fell into work quickly so I felt very lucky. The challenge was learning to work independently since my first job was home-based. University teaches you to work to deadlines, but sometimes the working world and life in general don't have such set deadlines, so you have to learn to be productive and self-sufficient.

How has your time at Edinburgh benefitted your career?

There’s no doubt that the research skills, and understanding of language and writing style that I honed during my studies have helped to shape my current work, career and how I approach life. I also do occasional freelance translation work, which is a satisfying way of putting my degree to good use. 

What advice do you have for new graduates starting off in their career?

Say yes to opportunities and find a way of getting your work and skills out there, whether that be in workplace setting or by volunteering or joining clubs - social media is a handy tool for this and for making contacts. 

Who did you turn to for help when you were a new graduate?

I used MyCareerHub to look for opportunities. It's the Careers Service's online portal for vacancies, advice and job news.

I'd advise against having a rigid plan for life after university - just see what happens!

Lynn Fan

Lynn Fan

Lynn is a 2015 graduate of Ecological Economics and now coordinates with social enterprises to tackle environmental issues through eco-tourism and education.

How did you find your first job?

I was looking at a very niche area (sustainability in China) and it was very small back then, so I basically just researched online. My programme director connected me with a previous Chinese student who's in the same area which was also helpful. I also networked a lot when I went back to China, attending different events, which led me to my second job. Linkedin and Platform One are also a great places to look into, connect with alumni and ask for insights.

What are you proud of having done since graduating from the University?

Following my passion. I have been leveraging what I learned at the University and applying it to the situation in China. I turned down an offer from a Fortune 500 company, and joined an international environmental non-governmental organisation. Afterwards I joined an environmental consulting firm and coordinated with social enterprises to solve issues through eco-tourism and education. I also volunteered at the Nature Conservancy and joined LeanIn that aims to empower women in China. And last year, I came back to the University to participate in the Planetary Health conference to discuss health and environmental issues with experts from top institutions around the world. 

How has your time at Edinburgh benefitted your career?

With students from 10 countries with different backgrounds, languages, and cultures, we studied and worked together, argued, laughed, and became close friends. The year I spent in Edinburgh equipped me with the essential knowledge needed to work in the sustainability industry, taught me that there were many diversities, and most importantly, reminded me that my voice could be and should be heard.  None of my career achievements would be possible without my time and experience in Edinburgh, pushing me beyond my comfort zone.

Follow your dreams, work hard, try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and don't be too shy to ask for help. 

Roxana Karam

Roxana

Roxana is a very new graduate, gaining her MA in Landscape Architecture in summer 2019. She is now working as an architecture technologist with a company that designs accommodation pods.

What has been your biggest challenge since graduating?

The biggest challenge is the huge gap between academia and industries. Working with real world problems is very different to theory and research. 

Does anything about your life now remind you of being a student?

Actually, I have never stopped being a student - even though I have now moved into the professional world, I am still a student and still doing research through a PhD.

How has your time at Edinburgh benefitted your career?

Being able to network with like-minded professionals in both academia and practice – as well as getting to know my employer and working with them.

Who did you turn to for help when you were a new graduate? 

I have used online resources a lot and looking at the feedback and experiences of others has been really helpful - that's why I am very happy to share my journey as well. My current employer has been very helpful in providing me with more information and I am very thankful to have such a great working environment.

Never stop learning and improving your skills – use this opportunity to love your work and enjoy what you do, and never be afraid of asking questions.

Austeja Kirdeikyte

Austeja

Austeja is a 2015 Civil Engineering graduate, and has been working at David R. Murray and Associates as a structural engineer since then.

How did you find your first job?

I was keen to join a small company after graduating, which in my opinion is advantageous for career development. It was a bit tricky at first as there seemed to be hardly any positions advertised. This is where the University Careers Service came in handy with their suggestion to find potential firms in the Yellow Pages and to get in touch with them speculatively – it worked!

What was your biggest challenge when you left the University and what did you learn from it?

Even though the University involved plenty of teamwork, when I started my job, I found it most challenging working with people who have a very different mindset to me. I think coursemates tend to have similar goals and aspirations whereas I find that at work it can be a bit more complex. Nevertheless, I understood that working together is an essential skill in most jobs and hearing opposing ideas allows you to form a more rounded view.

Does anything about your life now remind you of being a student?

Having nachos!

How has your time at Edinburgh benefitted your career?

The most important skill I gained at the University is that of learning, which might sound straightforward. but I feel like I continue to learn new things all the time.

My time at the University has given me the confidence to tackle unfamiliar problems.

Declan McLaughlin

Declan

Declan studied Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, graduated in summer 2019, and is now working for a company that produces revolutiuonary back massage machines.

How has life been since graduation?

Well, I found my first job via Adopt an Intern. It's an award-winning not-for-profit specialising in inclusive recruitment with internships, returnships and permanent roles. They were instrumental in helping me find my current role with BackHug, a startup in Edinburgh making robotic massage devices of all things!  

What challenges have you faced?

The biggest challenge after university was finding a group of like-minded people similar to those I knew in the various sports clubs and societies that I was a part of during my undergraduate years. Once you leave university, you really start to appreciate the opportunities you had there to connect with a wider community. I’ve learned that surrounding yourself with others who you can learn from, share memories with and trust is crucial.

What has made you proud?

Completing my first ultra-marathon (57km) through Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills. It’s challenges like these that give you the confidence to conquer your fears and challenge your limits in all apsects of your life. 

For wellbeing, I’m still a member at the Pleasance gym, which is a venue I’ll never grow tired of.

Daniel Robertson

Daniel Robertson

Daniel gained his undergraduate degree in Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science in 2010, followed by an MSc in International Development in 2018. He now has his own consultancy, offering data analysis expertise.

What challenges have you faced since graduation?

The challenges were many – university was very much the start of the journey! It took me six months to start a full-time job after graduation, which also involved moving from Edinburgh to London. Patience and a long view on your career are definitely key. Once I started work, I also realised how little I knew about the speed, pragmatism, diplomacy, and endurance required to survive in the corporate world.

At the time, these were monumental challenges, but I learned to trust in myself and adopt an attitude of constant self-improvement. This led me to become independent, capable, and achieve a lot in my subsequent roles and study.

What has made you proud since graduating?

I strongly believe in lifelong learning and diversity of experiences. I’ve worked for a large corporate organisation as well as two charities. I’m now a freelancer with a lot of control over my working life. I’ve also since returned to the University of Edinburgh to complete a Masters in a completely different discipline, learned languages, studied, worked and travelled overseas. I would never have thought any of this remotely possible in my school days: studying at university made it achievable.

Does anything about your current life remind you of your time as a student?

There’s a lot of overlap in both hard and soft skills. It’s interesting how occasionally something that I learned years ago in my undergraduate degree will suddenly become relevant to a work problem or conversation, for example a statistical technique, a data structure, an algorithm, or a question of ethics. I think university study often gets criticised for being too academic or lacking in practical training. This is often a fair point, but because of the strong foundations – covering the breadth and depth of your subject - you should find your degree studies to be useful repeatedly over many years.

Ways of working and socialising are also aspects of being a student that I have carried forward. Being able to build rapport with people from various countries and specialities, as well as having self-discipline, time management, and organisational skills, all translate directly into my current life and career.

Often the benefits and opportunities of university study are unpredictable, but you have to position yourself to take advantage of them when they come.

Toni Velikova

Toni

A 2018 degree in Book History and Material Culture has taken Toni to her role as Assistant Librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library.

What was your biggest challenge when you left the University and what did you learn from it?

I think it was readjusting myself back to a 9-5 working pattern when, during my Masters degree, I was used to making my own schedule. I actually prefer having a fixed working pattern now – it means I don’t have to take my work home! 

What are you proud of having done since graduating from university?

Encouraged by my course, I’ve decided to further my professional knowledge by enrolling for a chartership programme with the national institute for my profession. My degree was already accredited by the institute, but this is really taking it a step further. It’s challenging but also very enjoyable!

How has your time at Edinburgh benefitted your career?

I have made a lot of very valuable connections in Edinburgh’s heritage sector and garnered invaluable knowledge on the inner workings of a variety of institutions. These have helped me a lot during my career. This started while I was studying – the Masters degree that I did had very good connections with the local industry that are still helping me to this day.

I often work with volunteers and many of them are students at Edinburgh. It’s quite nice to reminisce and share my experience with them.

Platform One

Have more questions? You can connect with all of these alumni and thousands more graduates, staff and students on Platform One, the University's online meeting place.

Join Platform One

Careers Service support

You won’t stop after you graduate and neither does our support! You can continue to access all of the services from the Careers Service as a graduate.

To make it as easy for you to use our services as possible you can access much of our support online, for example through Skype, our website and online workshops.  We know that it might be difficult to find space during the day and so we also offer appointments after 5pm to make it easier for you to speak to us.