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Karen Hinton

Karen Hinton will be forever thankful to the local schools outreach programme which helped her to apply to University and saw her expand her horizons, introduced her to her husband and helped her to gain confidence.

Name Karen Hinton (nee Wilson)
Degree Course Sociology
Year of Graduation 2003
Karen Hinton

Your time at the University

I chose Edinburgh University because I lived in Livingston and wanted to stay at home – but I also loved the city and George Square. I was lucky enough to attend the LEAPS Summer School in 1999, which involved 8 weeks of studying at Edinburgh, participating in lectures and tutorials, and even doing exams and assignments. It was a widening participation project, and I absolutely benefited – both because my summer school results were considered alongside my school exam results, and because I already knew what university might be like when I got there!

My first year mainly involved me trying to get through Philosophy (which I didn’t understand!) and meeting some lovely new friends. Second year was hard work, and was the year I realised that my passion was Sociology. I properly settled in second year, joining societies and becoming more confident and independent. I became a student ambassador for the University so worked on open days and gave campus tours; and I made the huge decision to move out of my parental home and into a university flat with my twin sister and two friends.

Third and fourth years were by far my favourite. I absolutely loved my course, I had the best friends in the world, and I was more confident academically than I had been in my first two years. I had such an amazing time. I remember knowing that if I went into the library café, I’d definitely find someone I knew. I loved the camaraderie of the social science computing lab in the basement of AFB, especially when we were doing our dissertations. George Square was home in those years, it was an amazing place to be.

My summers were spent doing different things. Summer between first and second year was spent travelling in the US for three months with my twin sister, Kirsty. Year 2 was three months as a Library Attendant at the Central Library on George Street, and in the third year I successfully got an internship at UBS in London. It was an amazing experience – I’d never been anywhere without my twin, but I moved to London and worked hard.

I remember knowing that if I went into the library café, I’d definitely find someone I knew. I loved the camaraderie of the social science computing lab in the basement of AFB, especially when we were doing our dissertations. 

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

When I graduated, I was given an internship at the University’s Schools and Colleges Liaison Service (now Student Recruitment and Admissions). I visited schools on behalf of SCLS, giving talks about student life and applying to university. It was a six month internship, and at the end, I applied for a job there as ‘Schools Outreach Officer’ and got it! I had a permanent graduate job, 6 months after leaving university.

My job was to organise activities for school groups on-campus, including supporting a summer school – which I then took over completely a couple of years later. I developed some fantastic relationships with academics across the university, working with them to develop their widening participation activity. I also visited schools across central Scotland, giving talks and workshops, and helping with university open days

After six wonderful years, my husband and I decided to move south, and I was successful in getting a job as Student Recruitment and Marketing Manager at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) based in Ipswich. It is a new, exciting university – and my job is quite different from my previous one. I manage the recruitment activity and a small team, and we recruit students from across Europe and the UK. I also help with some International recruitment activity, and have been lucky enough to visit Norway, Kazakhstan, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg and Poland as part of my job. I am still passionate about higher education and the incredible opportunities that graduates have available to them.

While working, I have completed a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification, and am an elected Officer within HELOA, the Higher Education Liaison Officers’ Association. HELOA has members from across the UK, working within widening participation, student recruitment and marketing. We believe strongly in good practice and impartial information, advice and guidance for prospective students. I am the UK Secretary responsible for Governance, Policy and Management, and am really enjoying the opportunity to work with colleagues in universities across the UK, to develop the Association and our members.

Alumni wisdom

Take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you – there are far more available at university than you will find in the ‘real’ world!