Alumni Services

Ambitious futures

Elisa Chirico is a recent Edinburgh graduate of Chinese, and is currently working with the Development and Alumni team as part of the Ambitious Futures graduate training programme.

Elisa Chirico

My background

I am a recent graduate from the University of Edinburgh. Since a very young age, I felt the need to get out of my comfort zone and explore what the world outside of my small town in Italy could offer. My passion for languages and cultures took me to studying Chinese at the University of Edinburgh, one of the world's most international universities.

I benefitted immensely from the diversity and vibrancy of the University. I had the unique opportunity to spend a year studying and working in China as part of my degree. Adapting to such a different culture and lifestyle has been one of the most fascinating experiences I have had so far. I am always keen on grabbing as many learning opportunities as I can and I felt that the University and the city of Edinburgh have been the perfect places for me to do so. This is why I decided to get actively involved in student life and learn more about higher education. I absolutely loved volunteering at student events, working as a Resident Assistant and acting as a committee member for a peer support network in my Chinese course.

All these experiences and the people I met along the way inspired me to stay within university and continue my learning from a staff perspective. This is how I decided I wanted to pursue a career in higher education.

At Edinburgh

I am currently working at the University as part of the Ambitious Futures programme, the graduate scheme for university leadership. The scheme gives the unique opportunity to rotate across three placements at two different institutions. It gives an insight into management styles, visions and business processes in the vibrant higher education sector.

My first placement is in the Development and Alumni team. My focus is to deliver an international research database. I have enjoyed working on this project as it has provided me with the opportunity of using a variety of research techniques and playing a key role in encouraging communication across different departments. Simultaneously, I am absolutely enjoying the chance to get involved in side projects and get a grasp of how a big organisation such as Edinburgh works. The international nature of my project and the global activities with alumni communities have allowed me to explore areas I am interested in, such as the internationalisation of higher education institutions, which is where I would like to direct my future career within higher education.

The welcoming Development and Alumni team are a constant motivation to me. I look up to my manager as a role model and hugely benefit from her support in initiatives I am interested in taking on. Whenever I have a question, my colleagues are always willing to help, no matter how busy they are. I found that communication, knowledge-sharing and a desire for improvement play key roles, and this is why I believe the University is a fantastic place to work in.

I found that communication, knowledge-sharing and a desire for improvement play key roles, and this is why I believe University is a fantastic place to work in.

Elisa Chirico

Something I know...

I have only just started my career, yet there are a couple of things I noticed about my department which I have not seen elsewhere or over my previous work and interning experience.

Before starting my placement here, I expected people would be extremely busy and they are. However, I noticed very interesting ways they use to cope with such a fast-paced environment. I appreciate that colleagues do care about finding some time for themselves in different ways. One of these is physical exercise, whether that is a bike-ride, gym session in the morning before office hours or a yoga class during lunch breaks. My favourite one is when we all agree on playing some music in the background and try to decide for the playlist that matches our mood of the day. This is a great way to release tension and create a friendly, warm atmosphere within the workplace.

Related links

 Ambitious Futures (external link)