5 February 2021

Despite the restrictions surrounding the pandemic, the University of Edinburgh has had no shortage of useful opportunities to help students with their personal and academic growth.
5 Ways to Connect with Employers

Between the recent Employability Skills Expo, various Student Development sessions, and the Edinburgh Award, students can feel assured that they are receiving an abundance of opportunities to grow and develop their skills.

Employability Skills Expo

This half-day event provided undergraduate and postgraduate Business School students the chance to interact with leading global organisations and successful startups, across a variety of sectors. We were able to listen and ask questions of various recruitment experts, who shared insights and advice on how to develop our employability skills to make us stand out when entering the job market.

The Expo included career development workshops where students could:

  • Work with either Google or User Testing to strengthen their interview technique
  • Learn how to maximise job applications with Amazon and JP Morgan
  • Find out what Turner and Townsend and NatWest Group are looking for from their assessment centre group exercises
  • Hone their writing skills with either Renault F1 or Amazon
  • Make sure to shine when networking with tips from Amazon and Doctor Care Anywhere on how to network effectively, both face-to-face and online

Students were able to choose four sessions to attend based on their own interests. Here are the sessions that I chose:

  • UserTesting: Interview Hints and Tips
  • Doctor Care Anywhere: Networking in a Global, Yet Locked Down World
  • EY-Parthenon Strategy: CV Do's and Don'ts
  • Understanding Career Paths in Marketing and Analytics

What Did I Learn?

Some of the key takeaways that I learnt from the sessions were:

  • Do your research! When applying to a position, it is crucial to understand the role itself in addition to the company and its offerings, culture, values, and so on. Look at the company's career page, YouTube videos and more to identify key themes and phrases that they use.
  • Be curious. Prepare questions that demonstrate intellectual curiosity about the position. It is even useful to bring a notepad with pre-written questions to show your interest in the role.
  • Try not to ramble on, be concise, and don't be afraid to ask for clarity on a question if you're confused.
  • Have an up-to-date LinkedIn Profile that tells a story about you. A professional picture is also a must to put a face to a name!
  • Take advantage of your dissertation. Think about the job you want and how you can design your dissertation project around it.
  • Be genuine and authentic to your true self!

EY & You: Spotlight on Wellbeing

In the first week of February, EY hosted daily events with special guests to share their perspectives on mental health, motivation, positivity, confidence, and mindfulness. Some of the notable people in attendance included Michelle Visage, Tan France, and Katherine Ryan.

These sessions were exclusively for university students. They were able to provide some great advice and strategies for ways to alleviate stress and encourage positivity and wellness. I found this event to be a nice and productive break from the hustle and bustle of student life and university work.

Student Development Team

Additionally, throughout the semester, the Student Development Team hosts a series of workshops. These have included peer-to-peer CV writing assessment and peer-to-peer interview practice sessions. These were highly interactive and allowed students to provide crucial feedback regarding ways to improve these abilities when applying for jobs. The variety of workshops ensures that there is something for everyone, so all students will be able to find sessions that cater to their personal development.

The Edinburgh Award

The Edinburgh Award is an amazing opportunity offered by the Student Development Team. Essentially, this certificate programme has been created to document extracurricular activities that students are already involved in, making it quite flexible. It is designed to help students maximise their potential in a global market, with a focus on skills development.

In order to receive the Award, students are required to do three things:

  1. Complete a skills rating survey to determine which three skills need the most improvement.
  2. Write three self-reflective journals throughout the year, explaining the initiatives they will be involved in to improve their chosen skills.
  3. Meet with their assigned coach various times throughout the year. This allows students to elaborate on their chosen skills and discuss the best methods to go about meeting their goals for the year.

Personally, the Edinburgh Award programme has been a win-win experience so far. I am not only bettering my own abilities, but will also have certification for this self-reflective work that I can use to my advantage when applying for jobs.

My Programme

It is also important to mention the connections and personal progress that I have made within my programme. At the beginning of the year, I decided to take on the Student Representative position for my class. This role has given me the chance to act as the mediator between the cohort and academic faculty.

This opportunity has helped me improve my verbal communication and presentation skills, as I am expected to communicate with the entire programme in a professional manner through various town hall meetings. This has allowed me to work on my confidence when speaking in front of larger groups of people, while also ensuring that I am effectively communicating my thoughts, and attentively listening to others. Furthermore, I have been able to develop a great professional relationship with my Programme Director, who has been extremely supportive and helpful throughout the year.

Getting involved in these opportunities in the University of Edinburgh is a wonderful way to keep busy and, simultaneously, strengthen your personal skills. I have learned a great deal about myself and it has been a very rewarding journey so far. I hope to continue to excel at improving these skills, among many others, in the future.

Samara Fruitman is a student on the MSc Marketing programme