Alumni Q&A Event

Posted on June 03, 2020

Alumni Q&A Event 25th- 28th May 2020

While hockey hasn’t taken place since mid-March we used some time over the last week to reconnect with former members of the club and to find out about their various career paths. This took place via a virtual Q&A event spread across evenings last week. There was a huge range of jobs discussed as well as really important life advice about making the most of being a student and finding a career that you enjoy. Read on for some highlights from those who kindly gave up their time to tell us a bit about themselves!

Ellen, Geography and French, Class of 2018

Ellen was unsure of her next step after university and highlighted how much she enjoyed getting her degree and enjoying the time she had in St Andrews without worrying about applying for jobs. After a summer of applications, she found a great job in the Civil Service where she has been ever since. She works for the Geospatial Committee who are ‘tasked with setting and delivering a UK strategy to help realise the potential value of geospatial data’. Ellen mentioned that the work life balance for her job is really great, but the one draw back of working for the civil service is that at a certain point down the line there is a limit to how much one can earn in comparison to the private sector. Ellen gave some handy tips about the civil service application: write as close to the word limit as you can and instead of seeing experiences as ‘tasks’ imagine them as ‘opportunities’.

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James, Masters in Chemistry, Class of 2018

James now works for Deloitte, one of the ‘big four’ accounting organisations and the largest professional services network in the world. He decided to start thinking about what he wanted to do in his fourth year (out of five) at St Andrews and secured an internship with the company in Newcastle. He was then successful in obtaining a graduate position in the London office, now working for the Strategic, Regulatory and Operational Risk team. However, he noted that if you are successful in having an internship, you are able to skip some steps of the graduate application as long as it is in the same location. He also mentioned the importance of getting to know a company before you apply to work for them, and a great way to do this is getting internships or experience. If you are in first or second year there is a shorter programme called ‘Spring into Deloitte’ so be sure to research this, or other companies’ equivalents, if this interests you. It is important to note that many of his colleagues also did not partake in internships so you can still look for careers in this sector if you hadn’t already considered it. James also mentioned the importance of networking and getting to know people in many industries through his line of work which may lead to more diverse opportunities as his career progresses.

Annie, English, Class of 2016

Annie currently works for Warner Media in the ad-tech industry. This means her company develop the technology and ads which are tailored to you, something she didn’t know she would be doing when she was studying at St Andrews. Annie has had five jobs at four big companies and passionately discussed the importance of enjoying your work environment. She was really honest about how everyone seems to know what they want and what they’re doing, but in fact it often takes a lot of trial and error to get to the dream job. Annie highlighted that a lot of her opportunities have come to her from asking around and listening to people, for example she took part in the Mountbatten scheme and spent an amazing year working in New York. She also discussed the fact that your degree does not define what jobs you ‘must’ go into and that the skills you learn through extra curriculars, such as positions within the hockey club, can provide vital experience when it comes to work in the real world.

Rosie, French and Art History, Class of 2016

Rosie went on to study a masters in Dublin and then began a career in modern languages teaching. She really enjoyed the National Modern Languages route she took to get into teaching which allowed her to get straight into the classroom and spend less time in a lecture theatre. There are government grants to get people into teaching, and you are very likely to get a job very quickly. She thoroughly enjoys the satisfaction you get from teaching and sees it as a job she will enjoy for the rest of her career, something which may not be said for fast paced London graduate schemes which may not be for everyone. She also highlighted the mobility within teaching, she is able to teach French as well as a bit of German and some music and sport. Furthermore, there are opportunities to work in the pastoral sector. There is a common misconception that there is no career progression within teaching, however Rosie highlighted the many roles and opportunities there are and competitive salaries which are available.

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Max, French and Spanish, Class of 2015

Max said himself that he wouldn’t have believed it in his final year that he’d be back talking about his career to members of the hockey club five years on. Now he works as the Digital & eCommerce National Account Manager for Coca Cola European Partners. This means that he works on getting Coca Cola brands (including Monster Energy, Oasis, Schweppes and more) available on more digital platforms such as Deliveroo. Max is very passionate about his job now but it is something he didn’t know existed whilst he was at university, and he told us how he spent a lot of time socialising and these skills are actually very useful in the workplace too. He acquired his job by taking part in the Coca Cola graduate scheme after a few months of working out what he wanted (and definitely did not want) to do. He discussed the importance of pushing yourself; sometimes we are set on thinking something is not for us but we haven’t actually tried it. He advised that if you are unsure of what to do, get on LinkedIn and send someone a message to ask if you can question them about what they do. You don’t know if you don’t try!

Amy, International Relations and Comparative Literature, Class of 2019

Amy also works for the Civil Service in London and has just transferred into a new role at the Ministry of Justice. She is now the secretary for the second highest judge in England and Wales and is enjoying the challenge, however she has also begun this position during the lockdown so is yet to meet her new colleagues in person. Amy is still relatively new to the world of work but mentioned how it is important to enjoy your job and that further opportunities can open up after your first job too. She also talked about some tips for the application process: don’t apply to jobs you do not want within the civil service because you may be stuck there for a while as she has seen people do, so make sure you do your research on what each role means. Furthermore, if you get to the interview stage make sure you believe in yourself and do your research about the ethos of the civil service, this applies to applications for all organisations.

Overall, it was great to hear from such a diverse group of people about their experiences in St Andrews and then the world beyond. Some themes which came up in every talk were that you must make the most of your time at university and don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do. Everyone seems to know what they are doing but really no one does, so try and fail but you will get there in the end. Finally, use your contacts and alumni networks from university, get LinkedIn and use it to do your research.

Thank you again to these amazing alumni, we wish you all the best and hope to hear from you again in the future.

If you are interested in getting involved with our alumni network or providing advice to current students, please get in touch at [email protected]