Emily Prince takes us through her journey from sociology graduate and drama enthusiast, to community fundraiser - by way of the American Youth Foundation in Michigan and the HSS admissions office.
|Degree Course||MA Sociology|
|Year of Graduation||2008|
Your time at the University
When I arrived in New Zealand for my gap year, working in the performing arts department at an Auckland school, the plan was to start at Durham University the following September. As the year progressed, I realised I wanted more from my undergraduate experience. The rich and vibrant city of Edinburgh and, particularly for me, its festivals and outstanding student theatre company, emerged clearly as the place I needed to be.
Choosing to study at Edinburgh proved to be the first step towards four years of learning how to clarify my thoughts, ideas and ambitions, together with how to develop these into actions.
My first priority in Freshers’ Week was to check out the Bedlam Theatre. I proceeded to spend as much time there as I did in the library. (In fact I distinctly remember writing essays in the Green Room, when not required on stage.) The beautiful old church is a classroom as much as a playground. As a member of the company, I learned about organisational structure, marketing, budgets, leadership, compromise and so much more. The community outreach programme gave me another chance to work with children. The talent and professionalism was outstanding and encouraged me to continue setting my own standards high. In recent years, it has come as no surprise to see critics and audiences warmly welcome the work of my EUTC peers, such as playwrights Ella Hickson and Lucy Kirkwood plus comedians Humphrey Ker, David Reed and Thom Tuck, to name just a few.
I had a number of truly outstanding teachers. A couple of whom I think would be better referred to as mentors, whose wisdom extended beyond the academic.
Then, of course, there was Sociology. One of my favourite aspects of studying at Edinburgh was the ability to complement your degree discipline with a wider range of subjects. I was able to dip into a number of other Social Sciences including Psychology, Philosophy, Social Policy and Anthropology. I had a number of truly outstanding teachers. A couple of whom I think would be better referred to as mentors, whose wisdom extended beyond the academic.
I spent the rest of my time volunteering with the West coast based Ocean Youth Trust as well as sailing with the University club. I had a couple of trips to the Firbush Point centre in the Southern Highlands too. What an incredible facility, not least because of its beautiful location. Another highlight was the homely weekends spent with my Grandpa over in Dumfries and Galloway.
Above all, I made the best of friends at Edinburgh. My neighbours from Pollock Halls are some of my favourite people in the world. We live all over and our jobs are diverse, but we are in touch regularly and were reunited for a wonderful wedding in June.
In my mind, the weather was (is!) the only thing stopping Edinburgh from being perfect.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I spent most of my university summers working at the American Youth Foundation in Michigan. There, I was able to combine my passions for the great outdoors, adventure and youth work. It was such an inspirational environment that I chose to spend two seasons there after graduating, working with thousands of children from all over the Midwestern states.
In between I did a variety of temp jobs, including a stint in the College of Humanities and Social Science admissions office, working alongside the people who gave me my place at Edinburgh!
Eventually, I found the visa complications too much and returned home to England. More temping followed, as did applications to drama school. What really stuck, though, was Hope and Homes for Children; a locally based charity, which I had fundraised and volunteered for in the past.
I am now in my element. Working for a non-profit organisation, especially as a fundraiser, is an ideal fit with my Sociology background.
Hope and Homes for Children needed a part-time receptionist. I got the job. A few months later I became a Supporter Care administrator, putting together appeals and news updates for our supporters. Last year, I interviewed for and accepted a position as Community Fundraiser.
I am now in my element. Working for a non-profit organisation, especially as a fundraiser, is an ideal fit with my Sociology background. I advocate for children who are orphaned or abandoned by giving talks and presentations, and preparing engaging reports for donors. I am able to incorporate my passion for youth work through running our schools programme, which encourages students to engage in global citizenship. Every day I am building relationships with people who are helping a great cause.
Outside of the office, I have joined the local amateur dramatic company and in January won a regional award for my acting!
Try to make the most of the spectacular range of opportunities that the University has to offer. The abundance of these can be overwhelming, so “go with your gut”.
Look for the things that challenge you, make you laugh, keep you healthy and enable you to make friends or open your eyes to potential careers.
Enjoy the wealth of people and places. There is something for everyone and it’s not always like that after graduating!