Zach Thomas explains how his time at Edinburgh still resonates throughout his new life in east Asia.
|Zach Benjamin Thomas
|Year of Graduation
Your time at the University
I grew up in Dumfries and Galloway and so Edinburgh naturally became my home away from home at the age of 17.
Having a world class university three hours away from my family made it the obvious choice but, looking back, I took for granted how influential the University of Edinburgh is on the world stage. Since moving to east Asia 4 years ago I’ve been pleased to find the name Edinburgh University draws unexpected admiration in many circles around the globe.
Another thing I took for granted was the sense of community in Edinburgh. I wandered between departments and felt just as welcome in the Japanese society, the computer science lectures, the mathematics study base, the Business School and so on. Something uniquely Scottish tied it all together and the campuses, all walkable distance from one another, were a historical delight not found here in Asia. Edinburgh is an ancient city that feels emotionally solid, like a foundation that you lay at the core of yourself. The University is at the centre of that city lifestyle, it nurtures you and prepares you for what comes next, even if that’s the chaos of East Asia.
While nowadays I spend most of my time in Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, cities that continue to morph from day to day, knowing that I’ve got Edinburgh behind me is a great passport to future confidence and success. Knowing I can always go back to those familiar streets is a great consolation when encountering setbacks.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I interned in Tokyo on the Saltire Foundation internship and was thrust straight into the centre of Japanese culture before I graduated. It left me with a taste for the delights and challenges of East Asia so I returned there the day after my final exam and started job hunting from a shared guesthouse in the suburbs of Tokyo.
It wasn’t easy to find work in 2009 but I was lucky enough to land a simple teaching job at a language school to earn enough money to remain in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I eventually graduated to teaching at a business language school which grew my teaching skills further.
Knowing that I’ve got Edinburgh behind me is a great passport to future confidence and success.
Naturally, I wanted to get back to mathematics so I studied Japanese in my spare time to bring my level up to intermediate. This opened a lot of doors and I was able to merge my academic background with my knowledge of Japan when I was offered a job as a news classification expert at Bloomberg’s Tokyo office.
I’ve found an endless supply of challenges in my work at Bloomberg and two years in I now manage a team of 10 financial data analysts in Seoul and Tokyo and continue to leverage the broad range of skills I developed while at university.
At the University of Edinburgh I was able to explore a wide variety of subjects and this made me very adaptable which was crucial every step of the way. I’ve spent a few years away from my academic background when setting myself up in Asia but the technical skills I learned at a cutting edge research university like Edinburgh stood the test of time and I often find content from my lectures appears in many real-world applications.
Find a balance in your studies between studying what inspires you, enjoying your early-twenties and laying a practical skill foundation for your future.