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Saying yes to opportunity

Medical Sciences graduate Emma Gill tells us how receiving careers advice from alumni helped shape her career path, and why she now takes part in events aimed at current students.

Emma Gill

Why have you chosen to take part in these events? Is alumni advice something you benefitted from while a student?

I remember coming to the end of my undergraduate degree at Edinburgh, unsure of the path my career would take, being excited and terrified in equal measure. Attending careers talks and workshops which were delivered by previous graduates provided reassurance that working hard at university did indeed lay strong foundations for working life. It also provided insight into the diverse careers of Edinburgh graduates and how important the 'transferable skills’ talked about at university really were to securing a whole array of jobs. I love speaking to current students because I hope to impart a little bit of that enthusiasm onto them and remind them that what lies ahead of them as Edinburgh graduates is so much more than just a wage but rather a sea of opportunity.

Why do you think it is so important that students hear from graduates?

I think the world of work is changing and technology is driving that. Whilst students rightly seek advice from their friends and family, there is no better source than recent graduates who have been in their position. Recent graduates from their university will be relatable and can answer students’ questions with first hand experience of the job market. 

Why would you like to help Edinburgh students? Do you believe our Edinburgh education is a unique one?

The University of Edinburgh will always hold a special place in my heart. I believe my time at Edinburgh provided me with the freedom, encouragement and opportunity to explore different fields and develop myself personally. It is my opinion that the Edinburgh curriculum provides this opportunity not only through the four-year programmes but in the way students build their own degree by selecting optional courses alongside the recommended courses for the degree. I also think the Edinburgh education is not limited to the degree, it is enhanced by the fantastic clubs and societies aligned with the Students' Association. In many ways the clubs and societies I have been part of shaped my career choices as much as my degrees have done.

Which moments or activities during your studies really influenced your subsequent career choices and opportunities?

My time studying Medical Sciences at the University really fostered my love of research and the student society Edinburgh Young Scientific Researchers Association (EUYSRA) enabled me to work on research outside the hours of my degree. I was also able to work alongside some amazing (then student) researchers from all different disciplines and different years across the University. Through these experiences I was better able to engage with research during my medical degree. My role within this committee also provided me with vital leadership experience which I believe was key to securing my position on a graduate scheme with Royal Mail.  

However it is my involvement with the Medical Aid International Society (MAIS, now Edinburgh Sustainable Projects Abroad/ESPA) which has proven to be the single most important experience during my time at Edinburgh. Through our work with Global Brigades, during my presidency, I developed a passion for global health and development- so much so that I now work with the charity on a national scale through my role as Director of Student Relations. I think this will be extremely influential in my future career as a doctor. 

What do you wish you’d known as a student?

I think the best advice I could give would be to enjoy the free time you have and make the most of it by saying yes to every opportunity- you will never have this time again!

Your insights

If you are interested in offering advice and career support to current students, please contact CJ Cochran, Alumni Manager:

CJ Cochran

Alumni Manager, Schools & Colleges

  • Development and Alumni
  • Alumni Engagement

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