Ruth Allison talks about her first day at Edinburgh, her year abroad at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and why you should just say yes.
MA (Hons) American Studies
|Year of Graduation||
Your time at the University
Not really knowing what to study, I applied for five different degree programmes at various universities– ranging from brewing and distilling, neuroscience, english and philosophy, business studies, and American studies. I was lucky enough to receive unconditional offers and was ready to follow the science route when I received an invitation to an American studies event in the William Robertson Wing of the Old Medical School on Teviot Place.
The “meet the students and lecturers” format was much more personal than the open days I had attended at other institutions and the hosts - Dr Frank Cogliano, Professor of American History (later my dissertation advisor) and Dr Robert Mason, Reader in History (my Director of Studies) - were so friendly and open; suddenly going to university didn’t seem quite so intimidating.
I will always remember my first day at Edinburgh because it is when I met some of my closest friends. The first person I spoke to was my friend Kirsten who, complete with her leather coat and plum coloured hair, marched up to me and asked if I had been at the Toploader concert at Potterrow, the Bristo Square venue, the previous night. The biggest part of first year was choosing where I would spend my second year, which included a period of study in the United States. I was accepted to my first choice The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
During my time in North Carolina, I met so many inspiring people and I would always encourage students to spend at least a semester abroad. I spent the summer between 2nd and 3rd year travelling in the US and working as a waitress. I returned to Edinburgh for my third year and spent it doing a mix of honours courses and returning to the Badminton Club, the Modern Dance, and Swing Dance Societies – I was good at badminton, but the same cannot be said for dance. My time at Edinburgh instilled in me a love of learning and discovery, which has carried me through my working life.
The “meet the students and lecturers” format was much more personal than the open days I had attended at other institutions and the hosts were so friendly and open; suddenly going to university didn’t seem quite so intimidating.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After graduation, I studied for a PGDE (Secondary Education), but I knew that teaching was not for me and on finishing, fell into a job managing stakeholder communications for the Scottish Executive’s Energy Efficiency programme. There, I worked with the media, politicians, contractors, and the public, and realised I enjoyed working in communications and marketing. After a couple of years, I decided on a change of scene and I moved to Oxford, where I held several marketing communications roles at Oxera (one of Europe’s foremost economics consultancies), Doctors.net.uk (the leading channel for communications and research with doctors) and Oxford University Press (global publisher). I also completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and became an examiner and tutor for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
However, I could not stay away from Edinburgh for long; I now work at Edinburgh University Press (EUP), a scholarly publisher and subsidiary of the University of Edinburgh. In my current role, I am responsible for all aspects of marketing for the journals business at EUP, including strategy and market analysis; sales, tenders and partnership development; delivery and follow-up of campaigns; as well as contributing to revenue growth and profitability for our entire multi-media journal portfolio.
Just do it. Say yes to opportunities that come your way – from trips, travel, work experience, projects, sports and clubs, events – you never know where it will lead or who you might meet.