With a varied international career to look back on, Jason Spencer-Cooke tells us about his equally varied student experiences.
|Year of Graduation||1960, 1963|
Your time at the University
I missed Freshers’ Week because of illness, but soon found myself involved in my areas of interest: rugby, theatre and anti-apartheid protest. I still have clear memories of defending Old College quad against the medics in a rectorial battle, of charity weeks, and of Dramsoc productions at Adam House theatre.
My varied Christmas and summer jobs included the night shift at Edinburgh Waverley station as a mailbag man, a replacement worker at a brewery, and a salesman in a tailor's. I also did voluntary work with the young Quakers, children's games among the Nissen huts at Granton, and played dominoes with an old soldier in the Pleasance.
I found the overall experience enriching, and both the learning of languages during the MA studies and my later apprenticeship in law have been of value throughout my working life.
The broad education which I had in Edinburgh, and the valuable experience of mixing with young people of different social classes and cultures have been a constant source of inspiration to me.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
After graduation I wanted to work overseas. Through the Appointment Board Secretary I obtained a job in Malaysia, acting as local company secretary to a number of rubber plantation companies. During my time there I came to realise that I was interested in the management of personnel and their development. On my return to UK, I worked in personnel and training roles in the textile and petroleum industries.
Again following the magnet of working abroad, I then moved with my family to Geneva in 1972 to work for what has become the World Trade Organization. I spent 26 years with its small agency concentrating on giving help to developing countries in the export field. I have felt throughout those years that the broad education which I had in Edinburgh, and the valuable experience of mixing with young people of different social classes and cultures have been a constant source of inspiration to me.
In addition to your main subject, try to get some insight into others’ fields of study. Do some community work to understand the life of those less able or less fortunate, and distinguish yourself in a leisure activity – future employers look for achievements.