International Officer Scott McQuarrie talks about his love of Edinburgh, his career in Higher Education and explains why you should join as many societies as you can.
BA (Hons) Leisure Studies
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Your time at the University
I attended Moray House School of Education from 1996 – 2000. At this time the University had a small campus at Cramond, located at the North-West corner of the city. I chose Leisure Studies as it provided a great mixture of subjects I was interested in – culture, sociology, travel, and sport.
I moved through from Glasgow at the age of 15 to finish my last two years of high school in Edinburgh. Once I moved, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to study here. Some of my friends chose to move away for university but Edinburgh had so many appealing qualities that I opted to stay; Edinburgh offers a nice balance of being a truly international city but has the feeling of a big town. There’s always something to do but it’s not impersonal like some other larger cities I have visited. Following University, I undertook work placements in Ghana, Nepal, Cambodia, Peru, Moldova and Jamaica. The fact I have had the pleasure of seeing so many great places around the world and have actively chosen to return to Edinburgh hopefully highlights the attraction of the city.
My most memorable experience at university was undertaking my dissertation. I really enjoyed the experience of focussing on one topic for a substantial period and developing ideas with my Personal Tutor. However, handing it in 30 minutes before the deadline is not something I would encourage!
My most memorable experience at university was undertaking my dissertation…however, handing it in 30 minutes before the deadline is not something I would encourage!
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
Looking to gain some office experience and pay off my student loans, I joined Bank of Scotland (BoS). Over four years I worked in various positions including Executive Assistant to the Head of Private Banking. My time at BoS provided a strong foundation for my career with numerous transferrable skills but I always envisaged returning to my passion for travel, culture and sport.
Inspired by my passion, I decided to take a short career break to undertake a voluntary sports development project in Ghana, West Africa. Projects Abroad, the organisation that offered the placement, helped me deliver a sports coaching and life skills based programme. I enjoyed the experience so much that I spent the next 7 years working for Projects Abroad. My focus was raising awareness of development-based projects in various fields including education, human rights, conservation and healthcare. The cultural element of my degree at Edinburgh definitely helped me in my role with Projects Abroad given their focus on cross-cultural exchange and helping disadvantaged communities in developing countries.
My current position has involved returning to the University of Edinburgh to work in the International Office. I am an International Officer for the Americas, which involves recruiting international students from Brazil, Canada and the United States. I regularly visit North America to engage with students who are considering Edinburgh as a study destination and help develop relationships and partnerships in the Latin America, North America, and the UK. The chance to help students embark on a cross-cultural experience in Scotland, in addition to their primary study focus, is an extremely appealing part of my job. Some students recently worked on a ‘World Class Edinburgh’ video showing potential students around the world what Edinburgh has to offer and I think the film summaries some of the feeling students have toward the University and city.
Take part in as many societies as you can (or as many as your studies will allow, I should say)! It’s only after leaving university that I realised what an amazing opportunity it is to have such a range of unique options available. The ability to draw on society members’ knowledge is something that can help develop skills that you may not get within the lecture theatre.