Cate-Nelson Shaw’s career was kickstarted by the University’s Career Service, and having reaped the benefits she is now giving back to students with advice and mentoring nearly twenty years later.
|Degree Course||MA (Hons) English Literature & English Language|
|Year of Graduation||1997|
Your time at the University
I initially came to Edinburgh to study European Community Studies and French, but it turned out to be the wrong choice for me; so I restarted my degree the following year, studying English Literature, going on to graduate four years later with a joint degree – flexibility being one of the many great things about Scottish Higher Education.
I chose the University of Edinburgh because of its terrific reputation although I’d never actually been to the city until I came for Freshers’ Week, so it was a bit overwhelming, especially as I was coming straight from school. But I got into the swing of things and once I’d restarted my degree I really began to enjoy Edinburgh – both the university life and the social life!
I lived most of my student days on the Southside, firstly with three other girls for a few years and then in my final year with my then boyfriend, now husband, who was just starting his CA training with one of the big four accountancy firms. He and I had a tiny little flat on Bristo Place above Napiers Herbalist - wonderful aromas but no washing machine, so every week we’d go across to Teviot to do our laundry, playing pool while we waited. Happy days!
I had to spend my summers working and one of my best jobs was a receptionist for an Edinburgh car rental company – it wasn’t particularly glamourous but it gave me a terrific, almost taxi-driver-like knowledge of Edinburgh’s roads which has stood me in great stead over the years. Oh and the ability to parallel park like a professional, no matter how small the space – very satisfying indeed!
From 11,000 applicants I was one of only 70 graduates to join their Graduate Development Programme the year I graduated – an achievement I never would have thought possible without the help of the Careers Service and one individual in particular, with whom I am still in touch, nearly 20 years later.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
Whilst in my third year I was selected by the Careers Service to join the Springboard Consultancy Insight into Management course. Aimed at female undergraduates, the course was designed to develop female students to their fullest potential, through intensive workshops, learning tools, access to inspirational role models and networking. It was a real lightbulb moment for me, giving me the self-confidence to apply for milkround jobs. And I got the marketing job I wanted - I was selected by the Boots Company PLC. From 11,000 applicants I was one of only 70 graduates to join their graduate development programme the year I graduated – an achievement I never would have thought possible without the help of the Careers Service and one individual in particular, with whom I am still in touch, nearly 20 years later.
Since then I have worked both as a client in a number of SMEs, in agencies directing client accounts and studied for my Chartered Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. This multi-sector background and unique perspective has been the perfect mix of skills and experience to set up and run my own marketing consultancy, Yellow Book Consulting, here in Edinburgh. I now specialise in working with ambitious, motivated and dynamic SMEs dedicated to growing their business – from the iconic Royal Highland Show to the multi-award winning the Edinburgh Bookshop, as well as a little bit of features journalism on the side to satisfy the English literature and language graduate in me.
In 2006 my husband and I took a 6 month career break to travel round the world and then from 2008 I spent 5 ½ years as a stay at home mother. But I didn’t rest on my laurels, keeping up my professional skills in a voluntary capacity – first as a non-executive director of the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) and then as chair of my local playgroup, going on to become committee secretary of my local community nursery. I am still involved in the SMP and am keen to develop my non-exec portfolio further; and through my involvement with Changing the Chemistry I aim to achieve just that.
And I’ve come full circle: earlier this year I was a panellist, one of the
inspirational role models, on the Springboard Consultancy’s Sprint Course, the updated version of my 1995 Insight into Management course – my way of being able to give back to the University that influenced me and gave me such great opportunities.
Seek out and create your own opportunities, assessing each as they come your way. You might not choose to pursue all of them but – as my best friend says to me,
don’t let what’s meant for you go by you. You never know where a chance meeting or email might lead you…be bold!