Career Hub

Welcome to the Careers Hub at Peebles High School.

Here you will find information and links on careers. It’s full of useful sources of help to find you a long-lasting and fulfilling future after school. If you are not sure what you would like to do after school please look at our localised Career Index below. This is an index of careers of actual people living locally that tell their story and help give insight into how they got to do what they do and what their real job is like.

We can put you in touch with these people, possibly help you get work experience and also perhaps you could meet them as many of them come to our Annual Careers Fair in the Autumn. 

What employers/industry look for

Contrary to students who believe that exam results and University degrees are of top importance, employer and industry responded to a Skills Development Scotland survey with their top 3 most important factors when recruiting:

  1. Aptitude & readiness to work
  2. Broader skills; listening, presenting, problem solving
  3. Academic Results/Qualifications

Useful Links and Info

Once you have looked at the following sites come and talk to your pastoral teacher and parents for advice.  Careers Advisors with SDS at the High School are Chris Conway and Stuart Inglis.

My World of Work  – Advice on what you would like to do and how to do it including how to write CVs!
Apprenticeships – not interested in going to University? Then there are millions of options click here to learn about apprenticeships 
Applying to College – Information on My World of Work on applying to College or University
Applying to University – Detailed information from UCAS on university and  college courses, as well as apprenticeships

Developing Young Workforce – Information for students and parents on careers, pathways and getting hired.  Lindsay Spear is our coordinator and is always open to chatting with anyone.

DYW Borders – Job Board – Job opportunities for students and school leavers in the Borders

DYW/Pathways section in their Microsoft Teams – posts of varied opportunities from courses, to jobs, to work experience, placements, volunteering etc

3rd year work experience – Peebles High School offer work experience in 3rd year.

For information about National Plans to develop skills in Scotland see:
http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/

Career Index

What do you do for a living?
Key Account Director, Oracle Corporation UK LTD. It is very difficult to describe what I do – a combination of Sales, People & Customer Management

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I don’t really know, very little of my career has been planned except that at university I decided that it would be a good place to be. I tend to know what I don’t want to do more than what I want to do…

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
2 Degrees. 1. LLB in Scots Law plus a Diploma In Legal Practice. 2. MBA, Both at Edinburgh University. Worked in several IT companies before Oracle where I have been for 13 years.

Talk us through a day in your life
No single day is the same. and rarely does a day end up as it was planned. Telephone calls, customer meetings, internal meetings, travel, occasional time for online admin/email and time to think & plan. Managing a team and customers.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
At 18 I planned to study Law then join the Police Force!

What did your parents want you to do?
They wanted to support me in whatever I chose to do so I don’t know if they had any preferences.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Think ahead rather more than I have but also be prepared to be flexible and change direction when you choose or when you have to.

What other career directions could you go in? Where else might you work within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Sales or Management, Training or Coaching

What do you do for a living?
Director with KPMG, a professional accounting firm. Head of Internal Audit Services Scotland
 
How did you get interested in what you do?

Enjoyed accounting and management information studies at School.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
University then Professional Qualification (Chartered Accountant)

Talk us through a day in your life
Discussion with my team who manage client relationships. Meeting with clients to discuss their requirements and provide feedback on our work Review our work – review files.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
To be an accountant and work around the world.

What did your parents want you to do?
Be a lawyer.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
To be analytical about what you enjoy and to see all jobs as a way of developing your personal “tool kit” for the future.

What other career directions could you go in?
Law

What do you do for a living?
I am an architect, and work as Consultancy Manager for Highland Council. The team are about 45 strong and work on new schools, housing, offices, and other buildings.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

When I was at High School I had no idea that you could be an architect, or even what they did. No quality advice available from the school I attended.

My big brother is an engineer, and I had planned to follow in his footsteps as he was successful (he had a car), but he suggested that I put architect on my UCCA form as a rogue last option, advising that they make all the money and take all the credit. Not entirely true and there are far easier ways to make a stack. At university open day I was charmed by the students and their enthusiasm for the subject so decided to give it a go.

What subjects did you choose at high school – were they the right choices for your future career?

English , Maths, Physics, Chemistry, French at Higher, Geography and Arithmetic at standard. Back in my day good grades in these ‘difficult’ subjects showed you were clever enough for further education, but the subjects were not so relevant.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)

Four year Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Study, one year Bachelor of Architecture, two years of work maintaining a logbook to allow sitting professional exams to become a chartered architect.

Even after seven year so of training I was still a novice, and worked as part of teams on larger projects until I was able and confident to lead a big project on my own. As my career progressed, I took on more responsibility, leading teams on multiple projects, and I now lead multiple teams. I have been lucky as I have been able to work abroad during my career, mainly due to membership of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) which is very useful.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

Today!! Check emails to see what has been going on in the last few days, respond to challenges arising.

Reviewed designs for a new Gaelic Primary School in Fort William with the project architect, and sketched out development options. The design is coming along well with a very strong central idea which we and our client really like, but we need to be careful with costs.

Reviewed engineer drawings for a Museum Store building to be sure the project is properly coordinated.

Met with management team to discuss content for a forthcoming Team Day which will be an opportunity for all of our staff, who are spread out over a wide geography, to meet and celebrate the work we are doing.

Met with IT team to discuss progress on installation and configuration of major contracts database upgrade.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I had no grand plan when I was at school. At 18 I was already at University and had the architecture bug. I had no plan or idea then how life may unfold.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Their big idea was stick in at school, get good grades, and go to university and things would take care of themselves after that. In a sense they were absolutely right, but I have no doubt that I was extremely lucky. With no planning and little careers advice I could easily have ended up on the wrong course pursuing the wrong career… I would not have been a terrific accountant.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Architecture is a very satisfying career. I can point at school buildings and take satisfaction that my designs have resulted in a better learning environment for coming generations of kids.

The profession is going down a route where design and technical architects are being trained, which is an acknowledgement of how the profession actually operates now. If you are artistic, the design route will allow you to explore your creativity, if you are interested in how projects are run, how contracts work, and how teams work together to develop and construct designs, you may enjoy the technical side. Both are equally valued.

It is hard work, and you need to be hooked to get the most out of it, and out of yourself. Not really a hobby career!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

The training offers a broad educational base, with Art and Design complemented by History, Environmental Study, Construction Science, Sociology, Computer Aided Design, etc…

There are potential avenues into development, planning, contract law, product research, politics, Interior Design, Theatre Design, among others.

Is there anything else you can tell us about your career?

I was asked to read two books before my course started.

History of Western Architecture by Furneaux Jordan

Modern Architecture, A Critical History by Frampton (Both Thames and Hudson if you are interested). .

The first was dull but gave a good idea of historical development. The second was about the modern era, totally compelling but hard to understand. I turned up on day one terrified.

There are cool style magazines and books on modern houses in the big bookshops.

Better to start reading early to see if the subject rocks your boat.

What do you do for a living?
Freelance fine artist 
 
How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I wanted to do art when I was 14/15, my teacher thought i had a ‘flair’ for art, but my Dad told me I should do “sensible” subjects. So I didn’t do art, I took history (which I hated and failed).  So I think its worth taking subjects you love the most – you’ll want to work harder at them.  I didn’t have any career’s advice at all.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I studied up to A levels at high school and I ended up studying banking at Bangor university, North Wales.  I then went on to be a economics researcher for 10 years.  It wasn’t what I really wanted to do so when I was 30yrs old I decided I would try art.  

I went to several evening classes at Edinburgh College of Art, and there I got advice about how to get into Art College. I spent a year at Leith School of Art doing a foundation in Art and Design, and getting a portfolio together to apply to Art College.  I got into Edinburgh College of Art and studied Drawing and Painting for 4 years.  It was there that I found out I was dyslexic and got a lot of help with the writing side of things.  After gaining my BA(Hons) Drawing and Painting, I gained a scholarship to do a Masters in Fine Art at ECA. Since then I have worked as a freelance fine artist doing a variety of things – including working with school groups, working with community groups, selling my paintings in galleries, producing commissions, and having a residency in a beach hut!!

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
My job is extremely varied and does not have a typical day.  However it could include any of the following:

I have to spend time researching galleries to work out who might want to sell my work, and visit galleries ot check them out.  

I spend a lot of time watching my subject, drawing and making notes.  

I prepare canvas’ or make frames. 

I apply for grants/residencies to help fund some of my work.  

I spend time preparing for workshops in schools.

I spend time taking photos of my work and sending them off to galleries or competitions.

I spend time in the school working with the teachers, parents, children.

I do some printmaking sometimes.

I make handmade books.

I cut out lots of bits of paper for books.

I sharpen pencils, clean brushes, wash rags.

But my favourite bit is when I get to do painting.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
To work in London in a bank and earn lots of money.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Exactly that.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Find an artist and speak to them.  Spend  ALOT of time drawing and doing art.  Find opportunities to volunteer at crafty/arty events.  Visit arty events – go to fashion shows, art galleries, ceramics exhibitions. 

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could train to be a teacher. Many people from my course have ended up as art teachers.  Some are curators at galleries.  Some run community art projects. Some work in art college.  Some have taken Masters in other areas of art – some are in IT, some in museums.

What do you do for a living? 
Build instruments (cameras and spectrometers) which take astronomy pictures, using the telescopes at the worlds major observatories, both on mountaintop sites and in space.
 
How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

If I were being sentimental I would say it was by reading ‘Dr H C King’s Book of Astronomy’ when I was about 9. The truth is that I was interested in learning about how the physical world works, from atoms to stars, from the same sort of age. 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
School in central London, which meant O-levels and A-levels when I was young. I scraped though my non-science O-levels (French, History, Geography), but did pretty well on the 4-5 sciences (Physics, Maths and Chemistry etc) and I followed these through to A-level where I got A, B, and C (pass) grades in each. I was, and still am, attracted to the analysis and understanding of phenomena by mathematics. It was at university that it really took off. I spent the first year (3 years Physics at Machester in 1980) seeing a lot of bands, going to a lot of parties, and doing very little work. I really got excited by the understanding physics gives you about the real world in years 2 and 3 and it was in year 3 that my knowledge of how everything works peaked; this was a great experience. I have been specialising ever since, so after a few months particle physics at CERN, I chose astronomy because it involved more travel to more exotic parts of the world (Australia, Hawaii and the south-west USA).

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Staring at a screen. Writing computer programmes and using software tools to answer physics problems – will my camera be sensitive enough to detect an exo-planet? Can the telescope point accurately enough, if not, can we get around the limitation some other way? Writing reports and making powerpoint shows then discussing them at meetings to plan and review the design, build, test and operation of astronomical instruments. Then I travel around Europe and the US doing the same thing. Only about 10 % of my time is actually spent in labs, clean rooms or engineering hangars running tests on real hardware and working with technicians to fix problems, but this happens in intensive ‘campaigns’ where I may be on call ~ 24 hours a day (May to August 2011 and all of October 2013, say). I also supervise one or two secondary school and undergraduate students for a few weeks each year and give a handful of public lectures.  

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Yes. 

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Something that interested me.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Enthusiasm and curiosity are more important than brains.  If you have both of these you will find it relatively easy to learn the mathematical language you need to build or discover something truly new.  Assertiveness is no substitute for enthusiasm, curiosity or brains but it will help you manage other people’s work if that is what you are really interested in. 

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I am quite late in my career now. 20 years ago I could have moved into R+D in medical, defence or any other high tech field, but at this stage it is more a case of moving to another institute to do the same thing; so I could work for ESA (European Space Agency) in The Netherlands, or for NASA in the US, or ESO (the European Southern Observatory) in Germany or Chile. In all cases, I could earn a lot more money (ESO and ESA offer tax free salaries).  However, I have much more autonomy working at the observatory in Edinburgh than I would have elsewhere. I have always regarded my career as fun and I want to carry on that way. My underlying scientific interest is in the detection of extra-terrestrial life and the observatory has allowed me to choose projects which fit in with that goal. 

The main role of big science lies in being the inspiration of young scientists and engineers. 

I supervise S5/6 students as part of the ‘Nuffield Bursary’ scheme. I have a student in place this year from Dunbar, but I would be happy to take students from Peebles if there is any interest. The project topic for my current student will be to evaluate the detectability of transiting exo-planets using the James Webb Space Telescope.

What do you do for a living?

I am a Risk Adviser for an Investment management firm in Edinburgh.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I suppose I never really chose a career direction, as such. See below for how I fell into my current role.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

For Highers, I chose the subjects that I thought I had to (Maths and English), as well as the subjects I was good at (Physics and Chemistry) and one that I enjoyed (Latin – mainly thanks to an excellent teacher). From this, I chose the subjects that I did best in at Uni (Maths and Physics, as well as Astromony for a year – seemed interesting, it wasn’t!). From a Maths degree, the main career choices are to stay in academia (which I ruled out on financial grounds), to move into secondary teaching (which I considered for a while, but was eventually put off by my mother’s tales of the profession) or accountancy. I got a job with a ‘Big 4’ accountancy firm in their risk advisory practice, mainly because it allowed me to get a professional qualification and a good name on my CV. I stayed there for 5 years before moving into financial services in a more specialised role, which is where I currently find myself.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

I work in an office in Edinburgh (although I do get the occassional day at one of the firm’s other locations). My day consists of handling e-mails, writing reports and other documents and attending meetings on various subjects.

My job is to oversee how the business manages risk on behalf of the Board. This role is not unique to financial services, although it is more common than in other industries.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I had no idea! I knew that I wanted to go to Uni and wanted to keep my options open. Non-vocational subjects that I was good at seemed like a good way to go.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Whatever made me happy. I suspect that my Dad might have liked me to take on the family business (a glass factory), although I really wanted to do my own thing.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I wouldn’t worry too much about the choices I made at school. In my graduate intake at Deloitte, there were more history graduates than maths graduates. At the firm I currently work at, there are more philosophy grads than accountancy. All I would say is that a decent Higher grade in Maths and English goes a long way to showing that you are not illiterate and / or inumerate.

When you get to Uni, if you are genuinely interested in accountancy or financial services, then there are loads of summer internships available, which can only help you when it comes to the graduate milkround.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

The good thing about financial services is that it is relatively easy to move sideways within firms into different departments, such as Operations, Finance, Marketing, or the trading floor itself.

What do you do for a living?
Beauty Therapist

How did you get interested in what you do?
Through my Mum!

What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Again I got help and advice through parents and friends of the family

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I went to Mary Reid College in Edinburgh for a year and then have done further training with courses over the last 10 years in various beauty treatments.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
A busy day for my starts around 6.30am with a dog walk, check emails, get to shop for 8.30am start my first client at 9am and break for lunch around 2pm, sometimes when the shop is busy its very hard to even get your break as there are clients booking appointments/ cleaning up to be done!! Finish and leave shop around 9pm 2 – 3 nights per week.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No I started working in the Royal Bank of Scotland when I was 16 for the private trust section in accounts which now helps me when doing book work for the shop.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They were very supportive of whatever I wanted to do but always taught us a good work ethic.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Be prepared to work hard and long hours out with normal working hours. It is also a very rewarding job.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Sports Therapist, Make Up Artist, Holistic Therapist

What do you do for a living?
Beauty Therapist

How did you get interested in what you do?
I was always interested in health and beauty. No advice was available to me at the time.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

Studied at a college of Higher Education in London to qualify as a Beauty and Massage Therapist the training is generally between 1 and 2 years depending on the college. I worked in a Salon for 2 years before working on Cruise ships for 3 years travelling the world. I then worked for 2 years as a senior therapist in a 5 star country house hotel whilst training as a lecturer in Beauty therapy at Southampton University. I taught part-time at Southampton Technical College during this period. Then moved on to set up and manage the Aqua Sana Spa in Center Parcs, Longleat Forest for 2 years before marrying and moving to Scotland. There I set up and managed the Peebles Hydro Beauty Salon before having children. I then set up my freelance beauty business which has built up through word of mouth for the past 15 years. During this time I trained as an examiner of beauty therapy and travelled to colleges across southern Ireland as the external examiner fro CIBTAC. I have also recently been taken on as a supply lecturer of Beauty Therapy at Borders College. My business continues to thrive and fits in to family life.

Talk us through a day in your life
As a freelance beauty therapist I need to be very organised as a lot of kit is required to do the treatments in peoples homes. My working day starts with packing the car with all the equipment then driving to the location. I would then set up the room which I will be working in and commence treatments, generally between 2 to 6 hours of treatments, although it can be a lot longer. The kit then needs to be packed away and I drive on to my next appointments or go home where the car needs to be unpacked and towels etc washed. Accounts need to be updated, record cards completed and any phone calls returned for future appointments. The sort of treatments I would do are massage, facials, manicure, pedicure, wedding make-up, waxing and electrolysis. I work on men and women. I also travel to do weddings, doing pre-wedding treatments the day before then make-up on the day, this is an extra to my normal client list and boosts my business during the wedding season. I will travel Scotland to do weddings but also if required would travel anywhere. I also occasionally do make-up for photos shoots for catalogues which is fun and different to my regular work. I also work in shooting lodges doing deep tissue massage on the guns (the men who go out shooting) again this is done during the shooting season and boosts my regular income. My working day is always different and never boring.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was 18. I was not able to get into university as I didn’t have the correct qualifications. ! was a more vocational student

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents advised me to become a beauty therapist

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
This has been an amazing career, I have loved nearly all the jobs I had. They have each given me different ways of furthering my career and kept my working life varied. I have never been out of work. It is very hard work and you have to be confident with working with different kinds of people but you learn this as you become more experienced. There are so many different paths to take after you have completed training and gained some experience as a beauty therapist. I would advise that you get experience in a salon before moving on to self employment as you learn so much from working with other therapists. You need to continually train during this career to keep up to date and evolve your career.

What other career directions could you go in?
I would like to do more teaching. I would also like to get back into examining but this will have to wait until the children are older as the job required me to travel the world for 2-6 weeks at a time, and I couldn’t commit to this time away from home. Other directions I could have chosen were to continue in Spa management, but this didn’t fit in with family life. I could have concentrated on Make-up and worked for the BBC, there are so many different routes to take after you have qualified and got some experience. I could have worked as a full time beauty therapy lecturer.

What do you do for a living?
University careers adviser (now) previously a research scientist..

How did you get interested in what you do?
Science – was interested in nature. Careers adviser – wanted a permanent job.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
(education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)

Bsc,PhD, postdoc, research group leader, careers adviser (in house training).

Talk us through a day in your life.
Careers adviser – advising undergrad and pg science students about careers, group work sessions about (eg) applications, further study, open days, writing careers material.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No.

What did your parents want you to do?
Work in the co-op at the end of the street!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Have another career first!

What other career directions could you go in?
University administration, recruitment agency, self employment.

What do you do for a living?
I am a rural practice Chartered Surveyor dealing with country houses, farms and estates in Scotland. I advise clients on the sale, purchase and management of all types of rural property, with a particular specialism in the valuation of these property types for banks, tax and expert witness purposes.

How did you get interested in what you do?
My father was a Chartered Surveyor specialising in rural property. There was little advice available when I chose my career, but I had seen what it was like but accompanying my dad at times.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
After completing a degree in Physical Geography (4 years), I completed a conversion course (Master of Land Economy) at the University of Aberdeen (1 year), which allowed me to register with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors as a trainee. Once employed, I trained for two years and at the end sat my Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

Talk us through a day in your life
Much of my regular work is based on carrying out valuations. Estate valuations involve inspecting the estate (houses, buildings and land). Once inspected, the office work involves all necessary due diligence, to check there are no issues that might impact on the value of the estate, plus the gathering and analysis of similar sold properties to utilise as comparable evidence, which are then all brought together to form opinions on the value.
Most valuations require written reports.
Consultancy and management work can involve advice on any rural property matter, but often this includes farm tenancy advice (mainly rent reviews and setting up new tenancies); rural businesses and development; and increasingly advice on renewable energy schemes.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes

What did your parents want you to do?
They were happy for me to do what ever I wanted.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
This can be a varied career, which can take you into a number of property related specialist areas and often involves property types and scenarios that you have not experienced in the past.

What other career directions could you go in?
The background gives you a skill set capable of taking you into any rural based business.

What do you do for a living?
Manager of an early years education setting – charitable playgroup, looking after (currently) 35 children aged 2.5 years to school age)

How did you get interested in what you do?
Got interested because of the experience there of my own children. Little advice as this did not used to be a career as such, and this has changed
(dramatically, with the introduction of compulsory qualifications to degree level) in recent years.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Volunteering followed by working as support staff, then practitioner, becoming qualified through SVQ route, and finally doing part time degree while working on the job as lead practitioner/manager.

Talk us through a day in your life
Getting up and seeing my kids off to school.
Going into work and setting up all equipment necessary for the day inside and out.
Briefing the staff on what we are all doing that session.
Welcoming children and parents as they arrive, dealing with any queries or points brought to my attention
Free play for the children
Circle time and curricular activities
Free play
Snack time routines
Conversation over snack to do with home activities, extending curricular learning from circle time or what children want to talk about
Free play
Sometimes completion of personal learning journeys or achievement books
Home time, talking to parents, telling them about points to note, particular attention paid to parents of those settling in, with some difficulties or celebrating an achievement.
When all children and parents gone, tidy playroom and put all equipment and toys away after required cleaning.
Complete paperwork for the day. Create or finish displays.
Go home – then reply or initiate emails as required. Liaise with other professionals as required.
Squish in two hours study
Welcome children home and do their thing until after supper While they are watching tv etc, I do more studying.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No!!

What did your parents want you to do?
Didn’t have any particular thing they wanted me to do; I had vague ideas of wanting to be a vet, but no specific vocation or interest

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It’s incredibly rewarding, but also incredibly hard work looking after young children, and may not suit everyone. I started this as my second career post children and it suits me well and I think I am good at it, but I would have been rubbish at it in my 20s. Sometimes, you have to be flexible enough to change horses mid-stream depending on where your life takes you, and this I have done.

What other career directions could you go in?
I could have gone back to my pre-children career in financial services, but I wanted to stay at home to be there when my children came back from school. I also did not want to be a purely stay at home mum, so this fitted well. However, what drew me to it was the experience I had as a volunteer when my children were little as I realised there was a lot more to it than I had thought.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
1. Don’t expect to get rich looking after people in whatever sphere this happens (nursing, teaching, childcare etc)
2. Increasingly, childcare requires qualified people – which is only right given the importance of the sector to children’s long term prospects. Minimum level from December 2013 will be at SCQF level 6 – SVQ2. Maths and English are likely to be required as minimum entry points in the future too

What do you do for a living?
I am a civil engineer. I manage the development and financing of large public sector construction projects. I work for a company owned by the Scottish Government.
Most of my time is spent in the recycling sector dealing with waste treatment projects but I also work In the development and financing of other public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and colleges.

How did you get interested in what you do?
I had very little advice when I left school. All I knew at the age of 17 was that I wanted to leave school as soon as possible and go to university. I didn’t really care where I went or what I did which, in hindsight, was a bit silly.
I ended up at Dundee Uni doing civil engineering. I trained and qualified as a civil engineering when I left university. Later on I got more interested in the management and financing of construction projects so I did a MBA at Edinburgh Uni which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I scraped into university with four highers. I managed to get into Dundee University via the UCAS clearing system. I studied at Dundee for four years and got a 2(i) honours degree. After university I was lucky enough to get a job with an engineering design consultancy and it took me 6 years and two sets of professional exams and attending many training courses to become a qualified engineering.
In my late 20s I realised that being a good engineer was not enough if I wanted my career to progress; I needed to be competent in the managerial and financial aspects of my job as well so I did an MBA part time at Edinburgh Uni.

Talk us through a day in your life
A key part of my job is finding new ways to construct new buildings for less money and to deliver them in a shorter period of time. I spend a lot of time meeting people try to convince them of new ways of working. A lot of the time many people I work with are resistant to change so a key skill is the power of persuasion.
In addition to meeting people to help develop new projects I spend a lot of time with other engineers, lawyers and accountants to prepare all of the documentation that is necessary to develop and construct new buildings so I need to be able to understand the key issues that they are concerned with.
I also spend a lot of time with the Scottish Government and local authorities. It is the MSP that set government policy which influences what construction projects are required ( e.g. motorways and hospitals). It is local authorities that determine where local schools are built and where our waste is treated so I spend a lot of time trying to understand how best to develop new projects that fit with national and local politics.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No! I had no plan at 18 other than to buy a Porsche one day. (I’m still hoping!) In hind sight I wished I had stayed on until 6th year, got better highers and had taken more time thinking about what I wanted to study.

What did your parents want you to do?
Go to university as they never got the opportunity.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
If you are thinking about engineering, make sure it is something that you want to do. I know many people who love their job and are very passionate about engineering but unless you have miracle invention up your sleeve your not going to become a millionare as an engineer! If money is what motivates you and you like numbers – try actuarial science or accountancy. However, if you get a buzz from making things happen, engineering could be for you. With engineering expect to travel. You have to go where the projects are. Before you decide on any courses, take time to speak to as many people as you can. Maybe try getting some work experience to see if you really like it.
If you are not a 100% sure but still like the sound of engineering look at universities and colleges that do joint honours courses. Doing engineering with, law, finance or management will give you more flexibility if you want to try something else later on.
Lastly employers don’t just look at qualifications. Evidence of a can do attitude is key, whether through paid or voluntary work experience.

What other career directions could you go in?
I am a company director so that gives me the potential to look at other non-executive directorships. Sitting on the board of companies or charities is a good way to share my experience.
Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
The internet and technology is a wonderful thing but there is more to life than the play station and Facebook.
If you can show that you have applied yourself either through study, voluntary work or a part time job that will go a long way.
Finally, it is not uncommon for employers to look at Facebook profiles so make sure you always present a positive and true image of yourself.

What do you do for a living?
I am Civil Engineer currently working for a Waste Management and Land Development Company. My role involves managing infrastructure projects as well as looking after environmental compliance matters for the company.
Currently this role includes the development of a Materials Recovery Facility to produce organic feedstock for an anaerobic digestion plant and refuse derived fuel for a plasma gasification facility, development of a hazardous waste treatment facility, construction of a composting plant and remediation/ closure of several landfill facilities.
On the environmental compliance side I look after matters relating to Planning Permissions and Environmental Permits for all of the companies facilities.

How did you get interested in what you do?
I have always been interested in engineering and construction projects, however at 17 I was not sure what I wanted to do. I had completed my Highers but had perhaps not done as well as I should have!
At this point I was contacted by the careers service at school who were asked to look out for possible candidates to apply for a trainee role in a consulting engineering practice. This lead to my first job and life in Engineering started from there.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I left school after 5th year and started work as a trainee in a consulting engineering practice in Edinburgh working on major highway and infrastructure projects. I attended college on a day release basis for 4 years to obtain a National and Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering.
At this point I left work went to Heriot Watt University to undertake a BEng in Civil Engineering. After this I returned to consultancy working for two
further companies in Edinburgh on environmental improvement and development projects. During this time I undertook a MSc in Waste Management as well as taking professional exam for Chartered Engineer and Chartered Waste Manager status.
My role in engineering consultancy has developed over the years from starting as the office junior with the key job of making tea through being Technical
Director leading a team of staff and managing projects.

Talk us through a day in your life
At present I am managing the development of a Materials Recovery Facility to produce feedstock for an anaerobic digestion plant and refuse derived fuel for a plasma gasification facility.
This involves working with a team of consultants (Planners, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, Building Services Engineers, Architects, Ecologists, Acoustic specialist, archaeologists and landscape architects) who are helping preparing documents for planning permission and environmental permits as well as progressing the overall design of the plant. There is also interface with contractors who will be building the plant, our operations team on how the facility will run and be maintained and reporting to our finance team on how much the project will cost.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No at 18 I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate that when I started my first job at 17 I was mentored by senior engineer who helped me focus on obtaining additional qualifications to go to university.
Following graduation I have been fortunate to work with some excellent engineers who have assisted my development and continued learning.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents were keen for me to get a job, preferably with potential for training and development.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Look at the range of roles Engineers play in society and judge what you want to do, currently there are good opportunities in Energy and the development of infrastructure for this field.
There is good information on the Institution of Civil Engineers website http://www.ice.org.uk on careers option.

What other career directions could you go in?
There are a wide range of roles Engineers take on, there is development work, consultancy, construction, research and development, teaching to name a few.

What do you do for a living?
I am a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, currently with 2 roles. One is a clinical role leading a service for survivors of childhood trauma and secondly a teaching and development role responsible for supporting therapists across Scotland to be able to provide good quality supervision. This is how we try to ensure that the quality of the service is maintained as well as supporting therapists to develop their skills.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
When I was a teenager I had a lot of contact with people with learning disabilities and I developed an interest in how we could provide good services for this vulnerable group. As I learned more about what career options were available I realised that the role of clinical psychologist could provide a valuable service to a range of people with different difficulties. When I was at High School I volunteered with a range of agencies and services and was lucky enough to be able to get the opportunity to speak to a few of psychologists.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I did a degree in psychology at Edinburgh University, then a year as an assistant psychologist in Paisley. During these years (and even before I went to university) I was involved in a number of charities and had paid jobs providing services to people with a range of needs.
The biggest hurdle in this career path is getting a place on a training course (there is currently 2 in Scotland). I was lucky enough to get one and did a further 3 years to obtain my doctorate in clinical psychology.
Once qualified, I knew I had a real interest in working with people who had survived repeated traumatic events. Following a couple of years in general practice I was able to be involved in setting up a specialist women’s service for survivors of abuse and trauma in Lanarkshire. From there I applied for and was successful in gaining a consultant post.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
My day is incredibly varied. The role of psychologist in the NHS has changed a lot over the years, when I trained the main emphasis was on providing psychological interventions or therapy to people in distress. The role is much more varied now (although we still do therapy). As a profession, we are expected to be involved with teaching, training and supervision of other staff, research, and leadership of innovation in practice and service development. This month I have presented at a conference, taught at universities, visited a prison to meet people who are trialling a new psychological intervention for female offenders, been involved in the research of this programme, ran clinics for survivors of childhood abuse, supervised a number of staff and discussed training programmes, for a range of professional groups, which need to be developed next.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
It was. I have been very fortunate that my plans have worked out and I still enjoy it.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They were happy to support whatever decisions I made.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
The career is very competitive to get into. It is essential you get a good degree and you need to show a long term commitment to the profession, through getting involved in volunteering and ideally research. There are often opportunities to help out with projects in local services and try to get a wide range of experiences.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
There are a number of good alternatives, particularly if your main interest is in providing therapy and working with clients. It might be worth having a look at the Clinical Associates in Applied Psychology course and there a couple of these across Scotland. There are also very important roles for staff with nursing backgrounds in mental health who get specialist training and provide a lot of the therapy in a number of settings. This might include mental health, child and adolescent mental health, substance misuse, forensic or older adult services. The Scottish Government has committed to improving access to psychological interventions generally so the opportunities are likely to develop. There is also a course in counselling psychology.
Within wider applied psychology there are a number of other roles including educational psychology and occupational psychology,

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
Although it is easy to focus on the therapeutic parts of the work, we describe the way we work as ‘scientist practitioners’. This means there is a strong emphasis on using scientific processes, knowledge and research, so having an interest in this area as well as working with people is a real advantage.

What do you do for a living?
I am a Company Director. We organise language,educational and cultural programmes for students visiting the UK and Ireland.

How did you get interested in what you do?
I fell into it by chance whilst working abroad after a University degree. Started as a summer job as a typist and end up with my own company (after about 20 years).
What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Scottish Highers-> MA in Sociology -> France as an Au Pair (2 years) -> summer job in a French language travel company ->11 years there working up to a managerial position in the French company -> moved to England to create and manage a UK office for French company(6 years) -> back to Scotland to set up my own Inbound company in 2006.
French – Higher level at school -> total immersion living in the country itself with a couple of courses in the beginning at the local Chamber of
Commerce.

Talk us through a day in your life
Hours vary as the seasons do and as I am a director I can chose my own working schedule. Most varied day would be admin – accounts – banking – bookings – marketing – meeting clients and students. For example A-Z tasks of what might be involved in organising a school trip for a foreign class visiting the UK or Ireland – admin, accommodation, ground transport, visits, lessons, insurance, meeting the suppliers, meeting the clients, documents, inspections and accounts.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No – I was not sure what I wanted to do. I made the decision to do a University degree which might give me the skills I did not think I had gained at school at the time (self-study, analytical and organisations skills, living away from home) which I could use in a variety career paths.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents wanted me to become a geography or maths teacher as I was good at these subjects at school in the end they were happy that I was happy!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Do some sort of further education course after school, possibly in business/languages, then go abroad to work in the same domain to really put into practice a foreign language or learn a new one or work for a company doing the same business in the UK. Be geographically mobile and have a good work ethic.

What other career directions could you go in?
I could teach English to foreign students – become a Director of Studies in a language school. I could probably do almost any admin job or PA work or go into another managerial job. It is a career in which you have to cover so many areas which could then be applied to other domains (with a little extra training).

What do you do for a living?
I am company director for Scotair Global Ltd www.scotair.com- International Hot Air Balloon & Thermal Airship Operators / Web Designers & TV Format Creators
I am also a partner in The HOPE Consultancy www.thehopeconsultancy.org.uk– a Fundraising and Marketing consultancy firm.
My particular speciality with both organisations is web design, branding, digital marketing and fundraising, use of social media and database analysis and development.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I fell in to both industries from an administrative background which I increasingly found stifling and boring. I had no plan to chose this career and it didn’t feature on my radar as a younger woman so no advice was sought. I enjoy being creative and found web design to be a great outlet, initially for my own business before word of mouth spread and taking on external clients.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I left school with GCSE’s in English, Maths, History, Biology, Geography, Drama and French. Having been bullied throughout my final two years at High School I did not wish to continue with education, particularly as we only had one college nearby where the bullies were planning to go so chose instead to enter the workforce.
Whilst still at school I got a job waitressing in a local hotel and when I left school with no plan for the future they offered me a job as a trainee hotel manager. Being completely useless at the cleaning/waitressing and cooking side of the training I found I enjoyed working on reception but not being in charge of others. I moved from the hotel industry into the aviation industry as a receptionist for a Hot Air Balloon manufacturers.
I have been in the Aviation industry for over 20 years now. After meeting my husband who ran his own Hot Air Balloon Rides company I joined him in the business, initially as an administrator.
As the business grew I became frustrated with the limitations in using outside companies to provide our branding and website and researched available packages online to take over these tasks myself. Through trial and error my abilities grew and through word of mouth the web design, digital marketing and branding branch of the business took off. I read extensively ‘how to’ manuals provided with the packages I use and continuously pushed myself to learn more. With experience came confidence and skill.
I became involved with the fundraising sector working initially as an administrator for an international charity before setting up The HOPE Consultancy with my friend and business partner. She has a number of years experience in the fundraising sector and we found a gap in the market for a consultancy able to help charities with their marketing and fundraising needs.
Both roles have progressed from administration, my ability to use a computer and my creative flair. I have found a niche that allows me a creative outlet to bring to life a clients vision.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I am self employed and therefore am able to set my hours and my agenda. Sometimes I’ll work from 7am – 1am stopping for a cup of tea and a bite to eat, other days I have the freedom to not work at all. As a mum this is of paramount importance to me and is what drives all my career choices. As long as I am available when my children need me and I have the freedom to work my own hours, on my own initiative, using my creativity I’m happy.
I deal with Scotair Global Ltds logistics, training & client management both for the Hot Air Balloons and the pilots, in addition to working on web design and brand creation.
A typical day can involve contacting passengers, checking weather, booking accommodation, booking dates in the diary for events the balloon should attend as well as dealing with all invoicing. I also maintain our pilots paperwork ensuring his log books are kept up to date. Our pilot also travels oversees for 4-5 months of the year and I am responsible for ensuring all aviation paperwork is sent to the oversees operator, arranging travel and ensuring the pilot is kept informed of who he is flying, where he needs to be and when.
In addition to the administration, which generally takes place in the morning, I will then either be researching/designing and creating a website for a new client and/or maintaining an existing clients website. This generally takes place in the afternoon to early evening.
In the evening I work on The HOPE Consultancy. A typical session will involve me creating a logo for a new business, creating print ready stationary such as business cards, letterheads, compliment slips, posters, bookmarks, postcards etc, designing and maintaining a website for a client and/or creating html mailing campaigns for international charities.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No. I initially wanted to be a dancer having trained from the age of 5 with the Royal Ballet in London. I also toyed with the idea of being a nurse as I enjoy taking care of people. Mostly my ambition was to become a wife and mum.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
When they realised I was not going to make the most of my dancing abilities my parents owned a driving school and liked the idea of my training to become an instructor to join them in the family firm.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Spend time with someone actually doing the job. The fundraising sector is a particularly good sector to get into and one I would highly recommend. The work is varied and challenging but so worthwhile. You can inspire and really make a difference to the world whilst doing something you enjoy and are paid for.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I am particularly interested in creating brands so working with think tanks and marketing/advertising companies would be an option.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a Councillor
How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I have been interested in politics all my life, and was active in Liberal Youth when at college in London. When I moved to Peebles I became involved in a couple of local issues, and decided the best way to get something done about them was to stand for election to the Council. There was support from the local Liberal Democrat party and also Scottish Borders Council ran a course called “Preparing for Elected Office” which allowed prospective candidates get a better understanding of how the Council operates and the role of a CouBe prepared for a lot of highs and lows if you want a career in politics .

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
My career following school was in the Hotel and Tourism industry (10 years), so I was not a “career” politician. There are degree courses available in politics but the main qualification is a strong desire to serve and represent the public, and a commitment to a political belief of how to improve services.

Talk us through a day in your life.
No day is the same. About 3 days per week I will attend meetings at Scottish Borders Council HQ. Some are formal Council committee meetings where decisions are required on services or policies. Other meetings are with individual officers. There is a lot of paperwork and reports to read ahead of these meetings. During the day I will also answer queries from constituents and ususally try to reserve one day per week to meet constituents or answer correspondence. Around 3 evenings per week are spent attending community meetings in the ward. These range from Community Councils to local action groups.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No – to be honest I have never “planned” a career, and having enjoyed 10 years in the Hotel and Tourism industry, 5 years as a stay at home Mum, and now 10 years as a Councillor, I am lucky to have had a variety of interesting and enjoyable challenges in my working life

What did your parents want you to do?
Law

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Be prepared for a lot of highs and lows if you want a career in politics – it is not always easy to firstly get elected and secondly deliver on some of the policies you hold dear so you have to able to handle failure as well as you handle success. You also have to be prepared to see other people’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it. It is a very flexible type of work pattern so you need to be adaptable.

What other career directions could you go in?
I could try to be elected to Parliament, either Holyrood or Westminster.

How did you become interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I have changed career to become a counsellor. My first degree was in Primary Education and I taught for 5 years. I embarked on study to become a counsellor when by youngest child began school. I have studied part-time for 5 years and have a masters degree now in counselling.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
In counselling, I chose to tackle a counselling skills course first to test my interest. This was one morning a week at Stevenson College in Edinburgh. I loved it and felt I had made a good choice. I signed up for a Masters degree course at Edinburgh Napier (part time over 3 years) that involved both practical and academic elements.

Talk us through a day in your working life… what sorts of things would it involve?
At the moment I am job hunting! When I was working, my day would begin at the main centre where I was the only counsellor. I would see three or four clients in the course of a day. I would also conduct the odd assessment of people to guage suitability for counselling. I would keep notes and prepare for staff meetings. I also co-facilitated an Art Therapy group one morning a week.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No I went into primary teaching.

What did your parents want you to do?
Something which would get me a job. Doing something non-vocational such as philosophy or psychology or art was NOT mentioned and was viewed as frivolous and for people who had more money and less “need of a proper job”. I do not agree with this view now.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I would advise that they should follow a career in either nursing or psychology to begin with, then work towards gaining CPD in counselling financed by the NHS. Work within the NHS is the easiest route.

What other directions could you work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could carry on with my teaching career and am seeking to follow this up at the moment. Other people may choose to embrace H.R. or social work. I aim to begin my own practice and supplement this with other teaching or voluntary counselling to expand my experience.

Is there anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
It is probably a second career and having some “life experience” is helpful. I feel I left things too late (I’m now 46) but I wish I had followed a path which I was more suited for from school. Psychology would have been perfect for me or social work but I was given no guidence. This job does not really pay well and the training is usually expensive and there are extra costs incurred for every student in :
a) gaining 20hours per year personal therapy at potentially £30-£50 per hour
b) professional membership of BACP or UKCP ( student £50, full member £150)
c) professional insurance (liability) (£50 – £80)
You definitely need a lot of compassion, empathy, organisation and grit to do this job.

How did you become interested in what you do?
Advertisment in a newspaper. I went to a careers day at Telford College. The tutor there was very helpful.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I studied for one year full time at college, I had two days day release at Edinburgh Dental Hospital and local surgery. I passed my National Certificate.

Talk us through a day in your life.
Assisting a dentist at Chairside; communicationg with patients; keeping high standards of care and hygiene in surgery.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Nursing of some kind – yes.

What did your parents want you to do?
Care work.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Speak to someone who is aready in the job and get lots of information on all aspects of the job.

What other directions could you work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Working with additional needs and elderly clients.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
I am just disappointed in how much paperwork is involved in the job today. After years of hands-on experience, I feel there is not always enough weight given to the care side.

What do you do for a living?
I am a Doctor specialising in Cardiology and am currently undertaking research into Heart Disease.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
It was always a career I was interested in but I was worried that I wouldn’t get the grades at School to allow me to apply. Fortunately I worked hard for my A-levels and applied for Medicine during my gap year after High School. The careers department at school were helpful with this.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I worked hard for my GCSE’s and A-levels at school and took a year out after high-school before starting medicine at University of Glasgow. That was a 5 year course but I also undertook another degree during my studies called a ‘BSc in Cardiovascular Sciences’, so that I was in University for 6 years. Fortunately university tuition fees were free, which was a big help. After graduation I worked for 2 years as a junior doctor, and then lived in South Africa for a year working as trauma surgeon (very similar to ‘ER’!) before returning to hospital medicine in the UK where I trained as a cardiologist for 2 more years before coming out of hospital medicine to start a 3 year PhD in Cardiology, researching Heart Failure with the British Heart Foundation. Cardiology is a very competitive speciality, and therefore some experience in Research is essential.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Right now I get woken up by two noisy children and a dog. I go to work between 8.30am and 9am and have a very variable day. I will either be helping with CT or MRI scans of the heart, analysing pieces of heart muscle under the microscope, seeing patients in a Cardiology clinic or spending time reading and writing research papers. It’s a busy day but always interesting and sociable, and I normally finish around 6 – 7pm before heading home for a run, a session in the gym or a movie and bed! Occasionally during the weekend I work in hospitals looking after medical patients. This can be very very busy at times but is always rewarding.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I actually applied to Biology at university at school but changed my mind when I got good grades for my exams. I always wanted to be a Doctor but I wasn’t sure about what type until I was 20 or 21.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They never put any pressure on me at all to decide. My Dad is a doctor and he was very happy and proud when I decided to study Medicine.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Social networking (Facebook, twitter etc…) is the devil and ruins concentration spans. There is life beyond the internet! And always work hard when it is required. Being a doctor doesn’t require special brains or high levels of talent, just the will to be able to knuckle down and focus when you need to, and this means you can enjoy yourself and have a good time when you don’t need to work!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I’d be a professional surfer or a landscape gardener!

What do you do for a living?
Eye surgeon (Ophthalmologist)

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I studied sciences at A level (highers). I was always interested in the human body and how it worked. Advice re: studying medicine came from a friends parents who were both doctors.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did science A levels (biology, chemistry and maths). I went to medical school in London. On qualifiying I worked in SE England for a couple of years and then in Australia for a year as a junior doctor. In Australia I worked for 3 months in Ophthalmology and really enjoyed it. On returning to the UK I applied for a training post in Ophthalmology and managed to get a placement in Scotland. Further training to become an Eye Surgeon took another 10 years with many further exams etc. In my final year of training I worked in Singapore subspecialising in retinal diseases and advanced cataract surgery. On returning from Singapore I took up a Consultant Eye Surgeon post in Edinburgh.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
A mixture of working in outpatient clinics diagnosing and treating eye diseases and performing surgery on eyes in the operating theatre. Other aspects of the job involve teaching and training medical students, trainee eye surgeons, nurses and optometrists, carrying out research into eye diseases and overall management of those elements of the eye service which I am responsible for.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Medicine was my planned career at 18 but I was 27 when I realised I wanted to specialise in Eye Surgery.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Medicine

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Spend time talking to students who are studying medicine and also to qualified doctors who can tell you what it is really like. Also voluntary work on hospital wards is good exposure. Medic insight is a project run in Edinburgh http://www.medicinsight.com/ which is a unique platform for providing information to school students about a career in medicine. It places school students with doctors in Edinburgh to shadow them for a day to see what their job entails

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Medical journalism. Medicolegal work.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
Medicine is a great career with many opportunities and is a very portable job with work available in both the developed and developing world.

What do you do for a living?
I spend part of my time as a GP (General Practitioner) and the rest of my time looking after my family.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
At my school, anyone with good exam results was advised and encouraged to apply for either medicine or law. I think if left to my own devices I would have applied to do something completely different like archaeology, but I was told that both medicine and law were both good degrees which would leave me with plenty of opportunities and transferrable skills. In retrospect I think I should have stuck to my gut feeling and done the course I was most interested in rather than what other considered to be ‘best’.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did a medical degree at Aberdeen University which lasted for 5 years. After that I did a year of pre-registration house jobs before I was fully qualified as a doctor. I worked in Australia for a year as a junior doctor and then took several months off to travel. I’m not sure that medical careers nowadays can be this flexible.
After a break travelling I did some other medical jobs which counted towards GP training. In those days medical training was quite flexible and as long as we did the right amount of accredited jobs it didn’t matter where or when we did them. Most GP trainees will do hospital jobs in medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gunacology and accident and emergency.
I had become more interested in ancient history and archaeology while travelling, so I managed to save up some money during these jobs and took a year off to go on an archaeological dig in France and then did an MSc in Palaeopatholgy (study of disease in ancient populations) and Funerary Archaeology at Bradford University. This was a fascinating year which I really enjoyed, which included doing research on osteoarthritis in ancient American Indians in the USA. However by the time I had finished this I had run out of money and it is difficult to make a living out of Palaeopathology!
I then did a years Research Fellowship in the Rheumatology department at Bristol University looking at the evolution of Osteoarthritis. During this time, however, my mum had become ill and I spend some time visiting her in hospital where I was reminded what a big difference a good doctor can make to patients lives. So after finishing my research I completed my GP training by spending a year as a GP registrar within a GP practice and passed my MRCGP (a postgraduate exam).
I then worked as a salaried GP in Glasgow looking after asylum seekers for 2 years. I found this a demanding but very rewarding job. I also worked voluntarily for Freedom from Torture, writing medico-legal reports for victims of torture.
After this I got married and ended up moving to Edinburgh where my husband had got a job. I did some GP locum work there and then got a place on the Retainer Scheme (part time work for GPs with small children). I have since taken several years out of work to look after my family and have recently had to do a returner scheme which involves retraining to get back to work. Working in medicine when you have small children can be a challenge, and it affected my career much more than I thought it would.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
A days work as a GP will probably start just before 9am. There will usually be a morning surgery where you can see 8-10 patients followed by emergency appointments. There are then referrals to make, patients to see in the cottage hospital and phone calls to make. After lunch there will be another two surgeries. You will also have to deal with repeat prescriptions and read letters and results from the hospital. Some days you will be the duty doctor when there will be a number of house visits to make, as well as dealing with any emergencies that arise within the health centre. General practice has got much busier over the last few years and most GPs will find it difficult to get time for a lunch break and will be late getting home at night between 6 and 8pm.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Really I had no idea of what being a doctor really involved when I was 18. I had some vague notions of going to work with expeditions or in developing countries.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My dad was very keen for me to do medicine – I think he would have liked to do it himself.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Really be sure that medicine is what you want to do. Don’t do it just because you get good grades and everyone else thinks it is a good idea. Ideally it should be a vocation – something you feel compelled to do – I think this is the case for the best doctors. It also helps to be really interested in the way the body works and how things can go wrong. It is a demanding career with long hours, tough postgraduate exams and high levels of responsibility and stress. It can also be very serious.
There are some real benefits too though – you will have some great colleagues, you will never be out of work, the salary is good and it is a privilege to be so intimately involved in other peoples lives and to do a job where you are able to help people.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
One of the beauties of medicine is that there are a huge number of different fields to specialize in. From paediatrics to care of the elderly, psychiatry, surgery, public health, research, radiology, pathology and much more. Most doctors can find an area in which they are interested.
Even within general practice there are opportunities to expand your role, for example training other doctors, doing research, becoming involved in management or commissioning healthcare.

What do you do for a living?
Consultant Accident & Emergency Medicine & Pre-Hospital Care, NHS, Royal Navy & Royal Marines

How did you get interested in what you do?
I’d love to say it was for a noble reason, BUT I honestly think it was because the GP in my village in Oxfordshire lived in a huge house and drove a cool looking red lotus. Therefore i am ashamed to say that i must have wanted to do it for the money – aged 8…………..
I then wanted to be a doctor from aged 8 to med school entry at 18. After that i became interested in the Military, especially the Royal Marines because i loved skiing, climbing and arduous pursuits. Emergency Medicine attracted me because of the variety, excitement and the fact that it seemed to suit my personality.
I tried GP and didn’t enjoy it and think i was the wrong personality to do this.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Liverpool Med School 1985-1990
Short Career Commission 1990-1997 (Royal Navy & Royal Marines)
NHS 1997-2000
Full Career Commision 2000-date

Talk us through a day in your life
NHS / Edinburgh – mostly consulting patients in the A&E department. Anything from minor cuts & bruises to severe trauma (eg Pedestrian Vs car), heart attacks, severe asthma, coma, agression, psychiatric illness, confusion, drug overdoses. All the time whilst leading a team of ~ 15 junior doctors and giving on the shop floor teaching all along. Also have management, research responsibilities etc.
Afghanistan – either flying out to front line in a Chinook helicopter and picking up soldiers who have been seriously maimed (shot, blown up etc) or leading the emergency department where they are all received in the large hospital in Helmand. This involves dealing with amputations, emergency anaesthetics, emergency surgery etc

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Don’t know. Just wanted to be a doctor at that stage BUT on 1st day of Med School met another Med Student who had already done his Commando Course and who really got me interested in doing the same thing – which I did.

What did your parents want you to do?
Be a doctor ! I was the first in the family.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Work hard at school ! There’s great variety in Medicine and many opportunities to suit all. HOWEVER, don’t expect the job to be the same one you entered when you’ve spent 10-20 years in it. It’s amazing how much it changes.

What other career directions could you go in?
Higher medical management in the MOD or NHS. However, i prefer continuing to see patients and get very frustrated with the immense bureaucracy of these 2 mammoth organisations.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
I am a (self appointed) world expert (!!) in the subject of Tension Pneumothorax with over 20 publications in international medical journals. This is where a collapsed lung places increasing pressure on the heart until the person dies – unless a doctor puts a hole into the chest wall in time. I am working with the American College of Surgeons to change the world recognised trauma teaching course that they wrote 20 years ago – because it’s teaching on this particular subject is wrong

What do you do for a living?
I work as an Ecologist and have my own consultancy which I set up with a friend over 10 years ago.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I have always been interested in wildlife and spent most of my childhood outside watching birds, collecting plants and being amazed and fascinated by nature. No advice was available. I had no idea that Ecology was a profession and no sense that you could study it

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I studied Zoology at University and subsequently a post graduate qualification in Resource Management. I volunteered for the Scottish Wildlife Trust and did a research project on the impact of feral mink on wildlife. I worked in the voluntary sector and at the Nature Conservancy Council (now Scottish Natural Heritage) and eventually set up a consultancy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust to take on commercial survey and assessment work and to raise funds for the SWT. Eventually a friend and I became independent and set up our own business – The Wildlife Partnership.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I’ll tell you what I am going to do today. First thing is a survey for a local small landowner who is concerned about her neighbour’s proposal to fill in an area of land where she thinks water voles might be present. Water voles are a protected species as they have declined dramatically in numbers and distribution. There are also great crested newts in the area and she has noted otter activity. I am going to check for evidence of water voles by searching for field signs including burrows, feeding remains- bitten off stems of vegetation, footprints, droppings and latrines. I am not expecting to see water voles – you rarely see the target species and have to become an expert in field signs. I am also going to search for evidence of great crested newts. This will be more difficult as the cold spring will have delayed their emergence from hibernation. They usually emerge in the 2nd half of March so by early April you would expect to find evidence in local ponds. One survey technique is to search for eggs. Female great crested newts wrap up individual eggs in a little package by folding over leaves with the egg inside and this is what you are looking for at the edge of ponds. I will also look for any otter resting sites. Otters are highly protected and if any of their resting sites – either above or below ground- are going to be impacted or disturbed by human activity then this has to be licensed. Otter signs to look for include paths and footprints, feeding remains like half eaten fish, spraint – droppings which have a very characteristic sweet/fishy smell and holts their underground homes or any resting sites including couches where they make a secure ‘nest’ in vegetation. Once I have done the field work I will go back to the office and write a report which may be used by the client to influence whether the proposed work is done or has to be modified. I am then going to write a report for another client where a new pipeline in to be installed but there is a massive breeding badger sett precisely on the proposed route and abundant otter activity. I will report on this and make recommendations about how to avoid impacts and if unavoidable then how to mitigate and what the legal implications are in terms of licensing.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I had no idea. I studied 2 years of dentistry but this is not where my real interest lay. I then took a year out and went back to study zoology.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
I got no advice. I don’t think they really had any idea of what was available

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Get lots of field experience. Volunteer with wildlife NGOs. Try out some training courses – Field Studies Council. Try and narrow your focus – what are you most interested in – birds/mammals/invertebrates/fish/reptiles/amphibians/bats or maybe environmental education or engaging the public in biodiversity or wildlife and the law and so on. Join the appropriate NGO – all these groups have representative organisations where there will be opportunities to volunteer. Then you need research skills which you will get at university – computer modelling, statistics, survey protocols and so on.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Work with government agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Agency, Scottish Government, Agricultural Colleges, NGOs like SWT and RSPB, Butterfly Conservation and countless others.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Even as a secondary pupil, I was interested in doing a job which involved helping people in some way. I wanted to work directly with people and I was particularly interested in working with children or people who had problems to overcome.

 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
There was very little advice available to me as a high school pupil. I was shown some university prospectuses in the library and I flicked through them. We were able to visit universities for a day also
I did an undergraduate degree in psychology at Edinburgh University. Lots of work experience with families. One year PGCE in teaching at Glasgow. Teach for 3 years. 2 year MSc in Educational Psychology at Dundee University. Worked as a psychologist in several local authorities.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Visiting schools, discussing children’s problems with their teachers, their parents and the children themselves, meetings about council policies, looking at learning plans and advising on them; assessing children’s educational needs.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
All I knew at this stage was that studying psychology sounded very interesting.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My parents did not really have any great plans for me. They were keen for me to get a job and earn money and be happy but they did not know what the job would be.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Psychology is a great starting point before progressing to other people type careers. There are many branches of psychology and if possible get a taste for some of them before you decide where to specialise. Psychology is a great mix of science and social sciences. It can take you many different places. The MSc in Educational Psychology is highly competitive, so if you are really sure that is the path you want to take, get lots of work experience.
Other jobs in psychology: Criminal, occupational, sport, clinical

What do you do for a living?
I’m an Electronic Design Engineer and I make my living by designing silicon chips.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I’ve always been interested in machines, how they work and fixing them when they go wrong. Initially it was bicycles then from around age 12 I started taking apart electronics at home to see what was going on inside. I spent quite a bit of my spare time as a teenager (when I wasn’t cycling or playing music) designing and building electronics. I had several very positive role models; my elder brother, my physics teacher, older boys at school, and a group of friends who had the same interest.
I did get careers advice at school. It took about fifteen minutes! The school careers adviser seemed relieved that I knew what I wanted to do and shouted “Next!”

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
At school in Yorkshire I took O Level (equivalent to N4/N5 at Peebles) Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Technical Drawing plus French, History, Geography and English. At A Level I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Then I took a four-year honours degree in Electronic Engineering. I didn’t do a gap year, or vocational summer jobs. I just spent the time doing casual work and playing music.
My first job after graduating was with a big firm in Edinburgh where I was lucky enough to be sat with a couple of old timers who really taught me how to design circuits. As a junior designer I spent four years designing circuits, performing design calculations, building prototype circuits and debugging them in the lab. A large company is great when you are starting out; people have time to help you, you get training, support and opportunities. However, the pace of change was slow, and it started to seem a little dull.
I spotted an ad for an engineer to work at Cambridge University designing cryogenically-cooled receivers for radio astronomy. Wow! I interviewed, got the job and spent 11 years working on telescopes and associated electronics in Cambridge, Hawaii, Edinburgh, California, Japan and Chile. It was completely fab. I worked alongside some of the best brains on the planet and saw some amazing sights.
We moved back to Edinburgh to start a family and I did various jobs, writing embedded software, designing electronics for underwater radio, an ophthalmoscope, and instruments for the oil industry.
About six years ago I was lucky enough to be hired into my current job where I design silicon chips, and it is the best commercial job I’ve ever had.

Talk us through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I get into the office by about 8:45 am, grab a coffee, sit down in front of a big screen, and check the email. I work with teams in the Eastern USA and the Philippines and my first hour will be dealing with their enquiries. People in the office chat quite a bit but then the engineers get down to some work and the office becomes very quiet, like a library in fact.
So by half-past nine I’m working on circuits. I’ll have a circuit to design with some level of performance in mind, such as “must work from 3V to 5.5V with a bandwidth of at least 20 MHz”. The usual rhythm is to design some circuitry, use a large computer to simulate it, then update the design if it does not quite meet the performance I wanted. I use a little maths most days, but it’s usually just basic algebra.
Reading academic papers on circuit design is part of the job, as is the reading and writing of patents. We have electronic access to all the major research publications in our field.
There’s about twenty of us in the office, all engineers. Dress is very informal. Often people will gather to discuss some technical point of a design that one of them is struggling with, lively debates in front of a white board with sketches of circuits. These sessions are often very animated, full of humour, and we’re all challenged to defend our point of view. These discussions are at the core of what we do. We help each other a lot; teamwork is vital in engineering.
After lunch there might be a design review, a formal meeting where some new circuits are projected onto a screen and we all discuss them to determine if it is a good design, or could be better.
Also in the afternoons there are regular conference calls with our colleagues around the world to catch up on project progress and discuss any ongoing problems.
The chips don’t always work, so sometimes I’m in the lab testing them and trying to figure out what might be going wrong. This debugging is one of my favourite activities; detective work with circuits if you like.
I leave work at about 17:30 and head home.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes.

What did your parents want you to do?
My Father was a postman and my Mother was a housewife. My brother and both sisters had already gone to University so naturally they wanted me to do well at school, go to university and get a “good” job. Electronics was fine with them.
I did very well in my music examinations and my teachers suggested that I could consider a career in music. My parents were moderately against that and I think, looking back, it was good advice. I daresay I could have made a living in the music world but frankly, you have to be completely stellar as a musician to have a satisfying performing career. In recent years I’ve met plenty of working professional musicians who would like to get out, but can’t.
So, I’m glad I chose electronics. It pays well enough, I like the people and, thirty years on, I still enjoy the work.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It is worth the effort to get into one of the good engineering Universities. In Scotland that would be Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow or St. Andrews. You’ll get a better training and it stands out on your CV. Electronics is a tough degree with typically 25 hours of lectures per week.
Nowadays for a job as a designer you’ll be expected to have a further degree of some sort. An M.Sc., or perhaps a diploma year tacked onto your degree. In my office of twenty engineers four have a Ph.D.
Get some work experience during the Summer holidays.
There’s a huge emphasis on teamwork in engineering. Successful engineers don’t fit the stereotype of the iconoclastic geek designing circuits in a corner.
Many engineers start off doing the technical side of the work but around age 30 to 35 they find they have an aptitude for management, technical marketing or even technical sales. Many take that route and do very well for themselves.
Be aware that commercial engineering (as opposed to research work) is all about developing products that sell, are ready on time and meet a specific budget. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of designing something and hearing that Big Company X wants to use it in their next product. You’ve created something that hard-nosed business people are ready to buy. Very affirming.
But it’s not always like that! Sometimes you’re on a project that’s running months late, circuits are failing all over the place, and the bosses are thumping the table demanding to know when the product will be ready. It can be a very high pressure job!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Any company that sells a product that contains electronics or software will have engineers on the payroll. So, I could be working in mobile phones, telecommunications, factory automation, control systems for chemical plants, power stations, medical devices like ultrasound scanners or heart monitors, gene sequencing machines, nanomachines. The list is endless, really.
In addition to designing, one can go into electronics research or university teaching.
Another path is to work for one of the electro-technical government institutions such as Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, CERN in Geneva, or the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford.
Many engineers learn the ropes in a large firm and then work as self-employed contractors paid an hourly or daily rate. This can be highly lucrative, you have great freedom, you don’t have to be super-brainy and you can travel the world.

What exactly do you do for a living?
I advise large pension schemes how to invest their money.

How did you get interested in what you do?
I found this by accident after working in financial services for many years.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Got some Highers and went to Uni to study law, but dropped out after a year. Went to work for an insurance company as a clerk, became a salesman for them, then an independent financial adviser and later moved into advising large institutions on their
investments.

Talk us through a day in your life
Very varied. Lots of emails and often travelling to London to visit clients and attend their meetings. I am a partner in my firm so I also have partner meetings and meetings about running the business. We have 600 staff so it is a big responsibility.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Lawyer

What did your parents want you to do?
Lawyer

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Get a good degree because that is the entry point these days. It does not have to be in finance or maths. Then get into a good firm that will offer a good training programme to help you develop your skills.

What other career directions could you go in?
I know quite a lot about finance and investment so could work for a bank, fund manager or other financial business. I do work as a volunteer on a charity board.
It is a very varied career and the most enjoyable part is meeting lots of different people and helping them solve their financial problems.

What do you do for a living?
I provide financial advice on major public sector capital projects, such as new hospitals and schools. My job title is Assistant Director – Infrastructure Advisory

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I worked for the NHS after doing my degree and got involved in big projects then as part of a wider job. I found it a really interesting role and have been doing it pretty much ever since. When I did my degree in Business Studies, we were offered six month placements in business/industry, and I did one of these in the health service, which is how I got into the NHS, and went back to work there after my degree was finished.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
After I started work in the NHS (down in England) I joined a training scheme where I was able to qualify as an accountant, funded by the NHS. I then moved up to Edinburgh, still in the NHS and worked for the Scottish Government, where I was responsible for managing projects involving new health facilities – hospitals, health centres and the like. I did that for a few years and then got asked by the big accounting firm Deloitte to work for them advising on projects, mostly those using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). I worked there for a few years and then was asked by another big firm, Ernst & Young, if I wanted to go and work for them, which I did and have been there now for 9 years. I’ve never applied for a job or had a proper job interview in my life!

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Most of the time, I’m hired by clients who want me to advise them on their project – this is usually a Council or part of the NHS and usually in Scotland, although I’ve done work in England, Ireland and Wales and Ernst & Young do a lot of work in my field in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Africa and the Middle East. I’d usually help my clients by looking at different options, work out the cost of the project and apply for Government funding for it. I then help them look for a private sector partner who’ll design and build the new hospital/school for them, helping them specify what they want and then evaluating tenders that come in from private sector organisations who want to win the business and picking the winner. The whole project can take several years to complete. Some of these projects are big – as much as half a billion pounds – and can be very complex. At the moment, I’m helping on the project to build the new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh and also on a new Hospital project for Dumfries. I don’t really have a typical day, but I might be in meetings with the public sector client, in negotiations with bidders or with the banks or other investors who want to fund the project, or writing business cases, tender documents or evaluating tenders. I have a small team of four people who work for me on these projects, so some of the time I’m managing them.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do then – I sort of drifted into doing what I do now.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
I don’t think they had any idea either. My dad was a bookmaker and Mum didn’t work – anything but a bookie, I guess.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Go and speak to people – most people are very helpful and keen to talk about their work, so someone interested in a career doing what I do can easily find out more. It’s helpful to be good with numbers but not essential – I didn’t do a Maths Higher, for example.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could have stayed in the NHS or the Civil Service and become an NHS manager or worked in other parts of the Civil Service. In Ernst & Young, other parts of the firm do all sorts of other work like auditing, advising on mergers and acquisitions, tax and other types of financial advice, which I could move into, but I like doing what I do now.

What do you do for a living?
Although ‘design’ is the title of what I now do for a living, I neither trained nor qualified in it, so occasionally I still feel a ‘chancer’!

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
My lifelong interest was always to paint. There was no formal career advice as such, simply the desire to follow that which fascinated….

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
After qualifying from Art School (Aberdeen) a career as a professional artist began. It worked, after a fashion, for the next twenty years. However, the arts are a wide spectrum and need and chance play a huge part. As well as exhibitions and sale of paintings and printmaking, roles in illustration, theatre design, and particularly in book publishing played an increasing part. Working closely with authors and responding to the need for visual metaphor to words has always intrigued me. With this and growing involvement in working for different publishers, the need to have an in-depth understanding of all the processes of printing, book production and design meant learning new skills. Being self-employed, formal training was unavailable, however it came nonetheless. I have to admit that occasionally it came through my making alarming errors and simply having to repair them!

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

I am self-employed and work from home. Although no longer a painter, something I remain very grateful for is the sound training in the visual arts at art school. It still informs the essential grounding to all that has followed. This varies considerably from day to day. Most frequently I am involved in printed guides (and have just completed a series for a Kenyan wildlife trust to help train their rangers tackle poaching). Then there is website development for every form of need. Indeed, a day can be totally surprising and perhaps it is this variety and the need to respond quickly to the unexpected that I value most.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
definitely not…

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Their advice was anything but art, based I imagine on the reality that there is very little financial security in the arts. With my father being in the Armed Services, such advice was not surprising. Yet I was lucky in that they never vetoed my choice nor tried forcing me into accepting their views. Once qualified and practising as an artist, a certain resignation came I think!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I rather suspect that a certain degree of ignorance may be ‘bliss’ for a career in the arts! Not to advocate ignorance, yet perhaps because the process of becoming successful as an artist is something of a tightrope act. Arrogance, hubris and often downright stubbornness(! ) can all have a necessary part to play to enable an artist to work through the often alarming facts of a reality in which no one offers you a secure ‘job’. An inner certainty is definitely key to becoming an artist therefore. Sometimes it is impossible to see beyond the moment you are in. In actual fact I have drifted away from artist into design, partly for financial stability, partly in order to work more closely with others, yet also because the freedom of the artist still remains (even if the price is a more restricted practice). In terms of advice therefore I would suggest that to be an artist you definitely need to ‘burn from within’ and ‘know you have to do it’ whatever anyone else will tell you to the contrary. For a graphic designer the creative dream can still remain a guiding light, the creative spark lies within the daily practice and the tightrope act is mercifully less stressful. For both artist and designer, I believe you must love what you do… it simply wont work otherwise!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

Choosing which way to go at any one moment is usually close to a sense of ‘this needs doing’ or ‘this really needs a solution’. The scope may be wide yet I rather suspect that I, like others, carry the tools of the trade with us unaware of what lies ahead. In this, perhaps like the old annual Hiring Fairs for the rural trades each year, we await whatever chance there is to apply our trade and skills to whatever opportunities or employers ‘for our destiny’ may be out there!

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.

Perhaps if you can say with confidence “I would love to do that!” then an inner flame is born. To choose a profession, I might suggest that only that guiding inner flame is worth anything and it is best to forget the rest! However, if that is an artist’s privilege, then don’t believe me… but try it for yourself!

What do you do for a living?
I work as a geologist for the British Geological Survey, a research institute funded partly by the government, and partly by contract work for others.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I first wanted to do engineering. But then I heard and read about geology and thought it would be great to find out things about rocks and the Earth while working in the outdoors. At school or at home no one knew much about it. But I went to Open Day of the university and I got a lot of very good advice and a good idea what it’s like to study geology.

What subjects did you choose at high school – were they the right choices for your future career?

Dutch and English (I had to), maths, physics, chemistry and geography.

Maths, physics and chemistry proved to be the most important. I also studied French and German to Standard grade, and that came in handy too.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I studied geology at the University of Utrecht (in the Netherlands). After graduating, I worked a season as a tour guide for a travel company. Great fun, but after summer: no work! I finally got a job at the University of Aberdeen – doing lots of fieldwork in the Scottish Highlands.

After that I got the chance to do a PhD in Oxford, working on rocks in West Norway.

After that I worked three years at a University in Australia, doing research with a minerals company (BHP-minerals) to figure out how and where silver deposits are formed, and where they could best explore next.

Australia was a bit far away, so around 12 years ago I managed to get the job at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

I work both outdoors (20-40 days a year) and in the office. The outdoors ‘fieldwork’ involves studying rocks and outcrops, and recording them accurately in a notebook (nowadays a PC tablet). For me, most of that work has been in the Highlands. In the office, the work involves making geological maps (also using a computer), writing reports, discussing any new finds with colleagues. We are now also trying to put geological data into computer-generated 3D models. Because BGS stores vast amount of data, I also work with IT staff to see what the best way is to store such data. If we find something really new, we try to write it up as a scientific article. Sometimes we’re also called up to look at the geology of a construction site.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Pretty much. Amazingly I managed to do what I wanted, which was to do research while working outdoors in great scenery.

Q. What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Not sure, they didn’t push me in any particular direction, but I think they were happy with my choice.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

a) Be keen, very keen.

b) Study hard at a good university, and try to get a First Class degree. (Edinburgh, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow all have fine Departments)

c) Find out what interests you most and then do a good Masters degree in that direction.

d) Be prepared to travel. If you like travelling and seeing the world this is for you.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

Many geologists work in the petroleum industry, either in the UK (many in Aberdeen) or abroad. The mineral exploration industry also employs many geologists, where you might work all over the world. You earn more there, but might get fired if the share price drops! Others work as ‘engineering geologists’ for the construction engineering companies. Other geologist work to find groundwater, study earthquakes or monitor volcanoes.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.

The British Geological Survey holds an Open Day every year on the last Saturday of September. Visit www.bgs.ac.uk for more info.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a government research scientist. I do research on freshwater ecology, specialising in research on algae in lochs (especially toxic algal blooms)

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I’ve always liked biology and had an inspiring biology teacher at school. I didn’t get a lot of careers advice at school (I think a 5-10 minute chat!), so I just chose to do “biological sciences” at University of Edinburgh. I wish I’d been given more advice about the variety of subjects available at universities.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

In my final year of my degree at Edinburgh I chose a course on lake ecology which I enjoyed and so I then chose to research this subject for a higher degree, a PhD at the University of Liverpool. I spent 3.5 years doing this research on water quality and freshwater algae before receiving my PhD. After this I had two relatively short jobs (2 years each) at the University of Liverpool and then the Natural History Museum in London.

I then applied for a “Lectureship in Environmental Change” in the Geography Department at University College London, and despite only having an O Grade in Geography, I got the job! (they wanted a specialist in lake ecosystems). I taught there for 6 years and continued doing research on lakes in the UK, Europe and China (including expeditions to Tibet and Inner Mongolia). After 6 years I was sent the job details for my current job at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, near Penicuik. I decided to apply as teaching at university was taking too much time away from research and this is not good for a long-term academic career. I got the job up in Edinburgh and now lead the Freshwater Ecology Group there. There are a lot of training opportunities available to me (powerboat driving, statistics, science communication), and I was even allowed recently to spend 1 year in Italy working for the European Commission.

Talk us through a day in your life.
These days I rarely get to go and see a freshwater loch! I spend most of my day in my office at the computer, analysing data from Loch Leven (our main monitoring site) and also large European datasets from about 1500 lakes across Europe. I write this work up to be published in scientific
journals. I also spend a lot of my time now managing several research projects, mostly funded by the European Union. I still spend some time looking down a microscope identifying and counting algae (to assess the health of Scottish lochs) – although I mainly do this to train a new staff
member who is learning this rare skill!

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Not at all! I just enjoyed biology.

What did your parents want you to do?
Medicine. They were disappointed in my choice of degree!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Try and get some voluntary work experience – the Nuffield Foundation organise work placements for school children. Also read popular science journals such as “New Scientist” to find out about all the branches of science available – and also to read all the job adverts at the back to see the types of careers available.You can also follow science (or scientists) on Twitter or Facebook – try “Planet Earth Online” http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/

What other career directions could you go in?
I could work for government departments (Scottish Gov.) or their agencies (SEPA, SNH), or private environmental consultancies (e.g. APEM). I could alsogo back to teach (and do research) at university.

What do you do for a living?
I spend a great deal of my time in prison. Actually, that’s true. I do research on how to steer offenders away from crime, whether prison works to reduce reoffending and also do research on what the public think of prisons and the sentences given to offenders. I then ensure that the findings of the research are explained to Ministers and government officials who use it to make policies that are based on good research rather than on what the media says or hearsay or opinion. Well that’s the ideal scenario!

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I wasn’t a massive fan of spelling or arithmetic, but always liked doing projects at school. I loved looking up information and organising it in an interesting way. I also loved talking about what I’d found out. I talked a lot. Fortunately, the job I do basically requires exactly the same skills.

My school wasn’t very good at giving career advice. They used a computer which took your details and came up with weird job choices. I was lucky that my dad, who’s a scientist inspired me to follow research path and my mother, who is a psychologist got me really fascinated by what makes people behave the way they do and what makes them change.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
To get the job in Analytical Services I had to achieve 5 higher grades (as they were in those days) and then a degree (or 3) so I went to study Psychology at Glasgow University. After that I completed an Master of Philosophy degree in Criminology and then completed a PhD. My first job was a actually as a University lecturer…which I loved but the post wasn’t permanent. Although I had several academic qualifications , I also had to find out how criminal justice actually worked so I started delivering training courses to police officers, advocates and judges which taught me about the criminal justice system and the role of the people who work within the system.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Some of you may think that working for the government sounds a bit dull, but one positive aspect about the Scottish Government is flexible working hours so I don’t have to start work until 10am. The day usually starts with have to respond to 100’s of emails followed by meetings with other analysts, policy colleagues or Ministers. When I get a minute I write evidence accounts on various topics, for example I’ve written about women prisoners, drug abuse or violence. We analyse data, deliver presentations or have meetings to discuss what we know about an issue. We sometimes get to visit prisons to interview offenders and prison officers on various topics.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Not really, I wanted to be a dancer.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Anything that gave me financial independence, that I’d enjoy and be good at.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Go to Uni and work very hard, but also show how interested you are by doing voluntary work in the topic area.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I guess I could go back and teach and do research at Colleges or Universities. There are also private research organisations I could work for.

What do you do for a living?
I am a free-lance consultant and advise on the care of artworks, artefacts and collections in museums, historic houses and private collections. I help owners of these collections provide good environments for their posessions by making sure it is neither too damp nor too dry, and light levels do not cause fading or other damage. I help them create suitable stores for artefacts that are not on display, and work with architects and engineers to help them design and build buildings that provide a suitable and stable indoor climate for collections, preferably in a sustainable way. I am also distributor for equipment that museums use to measure temperature, humidity and light levels, and do all the sales, site testing and calibration in Scotland.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction? 
As a child I was really interested in polishing my parents’ things and making them look beautiful, but it was only much later that I learned about the job of conservator. I liked making things with textiles (knitting, embroidering, sewing, etc). I chose this career after first having done something else, so did not get any advise for this direction from school.

 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Through career-interest tests in P6 I discovered I had a strong interest in making art/craft things, but I could not imagine I would do this as a job and for a long time mainly saw it as a hobby. After secondary education (with languages, history and geography) I went on to do secretary-training and worked at a bank for a year. During this year I did an evening course and got a qualifiation to teach sewing and other textile techniques in primary school (the primary schools in my country did not have specialist art teachers but did have specialist sewing/knitting/textile teachers to teach the girls ‘useful skills’). I never worked as a primary teacher, but went on to do teacher training college in textiles and art.

This gave me a qualification to teach in secondary school. I still didn’t get a teacher’s job (there weren’t very many at the time, and I got more pleasure out of making things myself rather than teaching others) and instead ended up working in a fabric shop for a year and running some evening classes. A colleague in the shop had just graduated in Textile Conservation, and when I saw this advertised I decided to enter the course. In the final year I had to do two placements, one of which I did in Edinburgh at the National Museums of Scotland. I ended up getting offered a temporary job at the museum, whilst still having to do my exams back in Holland, and came to Edinburgh after my exams for the 9-month contract.

After this I discovered that a new job was being created in Edinburgh in Preventive Conservation, this was about preventing damage from happening to museum artefacts instead of repairing things after they got damaged. I was offered this job, did it for 4 years (advising museums on how to look after their collections), then moved to the National Trust for Scotland and set up a similar job there working with the historic houses, eventually becoming Senior Conservator. After the birth of my son I wanted to work more flexibly and set up my own business in Collection Care, working 4 days a week.. In 2008 I decided to go to University to study Sustainable Heritage and graduated with an MSc the next year (my first university degree at the age of 48!). I still work four days a week.

 

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
My days can vary a lot, when I’m at my desk I usually spend the first hour(s) on emails. The emails may contain orders for new equipment, which I then place with the manufacturer, who sends it directly to the client. There may be invoices that need to be paid (I do that via the internet) or there may be questions about equipment that isn’t working properly, or a request for me to come and look at a museum or store.

Then I might be writing a report about the environment in a historic house, or a short summary letter after a visit to a client to talk about the environment in their museum. I may have some pieces of equipment that need to be repaired (usually means soldering in a new battery or sending it back tot the manufacturer), and there may be some administration that I need to do: keep track of, and record all the orders, invoices and payments, prepare information for the Accountants or renew my professional insurance, write invoices to clients and make sure I get paid.

At the moment I’m also writing a talk which I will be giving at a conference in Glasgow in April. This is about Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott in Melrose, which is being completely refurbished and where I oversee all the work related to the collections.

When I’m not at my desk I’m with a client for maintenance and calibration of their equipment, or for a meeting about a project (like Abbotsford where I meet monthly), or to advise them on their temperature and humidity. I cover all of Scotland and the north of England, and sometimes am away for several days at a time.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, I wanted to be an artist, but didn’t think my parents would approve. I never asked them though!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They were quite open about what I wanted to do, but at the same time I thought they wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job. They were pleased when I did secretary training (my mum was a secretary), and were fine with my choice of teacher training college. My only regret is that I didn’t ask them what they would have thought of me going to art college.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I would advise anyone interested in any career to follow their heart and their interests and not worry too much about ‘earning a lot’ or ‘having a career’. Nearly every job will give you opportunities to acquire skills that can also be applied elsewhere. As part of my career I learned to use computers, word processing, spreadsheet and database programmes as well as the internet, I learned to solder, to do minor repairs, to be able to maintain finance admininstration and accounts for my small business. Most of all I learned to identify and solve problems and to use lateral thinking for it. All of these skills would be of use in other types of jobs.

The fullfillment of the jobs I have done has been in the pleasure that I have got out of them for doing my job and doing it well, helping people wihere they didn’t have the skills or knowledge themselves, the many different museums I have seen, and the fact that I was (and am) working for and with charities (many museums have charitable status), and not for organisations where my or the organisation’s main goal is to make money.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could work in a museum or historic house organisation rather than be self-employed;

I could focus on the development of sustainable approaches to the care of collections, looking at energy use for the provision of good environmental conditions and how energy could be saved;

I could combine with my teaching background and teach conservation students about preventive conservation and sustainability; 

I could combine with my secretary background and become administrator at a museum or conservation course.

What do you do for a living?
High School English teacher.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
My mother was also a teacher, although a Physics teacher! I was very fortunate to have maintained strong links with my High School so I quickly gained work experience which allowed me to feel more confident in my career choice. Speaking to people within the profession was invaluable.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I completed my undergraduate degree in English Language before moving on to a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. The PGDE year is quite intense, as it involves three placements in different schools, with ‘crit’ lessons that are observed by tutors from the University. We also had to complete a number of assessed units, with detailed lesson plans and worksheets for pupils. In order to fully qualify as a teacher I had to complete a probationary year in a school, which involved several observed lessons, CPD sessions and personal reading/research.

Since becoming a teacher I have continued to attend CPD events, and I have been fortunate to have experienced roles within the school which have challenged me as a professional. Most recently I have been involved with pupil support, and also as a supporter to a teacher in their probation year.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Working in a school, your days and indeed years are very structured. I will see a variety of classes each day, introducing and working through activities dependent on the year group. If I have ‘non-contact’ time, I will often be found marking or preparing material for a lesson.

Due to the nature of the English curriculum, I often have quite a bit of work to do when I return home too!

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Whilst I harbored some desire to become a journalist, I always knew that teaching was an incredibly rewarding job. It’s fair to say I’ve always thought that teaching was something I wanted to do.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
When I was very young my mum thought that I would make a good nurse (because I smiled a lot), but I don’t think they ever really had a fixed idea in mind for my career. They were happy to let me find my way for myself!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I would strongly advise observing lessons and get some experience working with young people. You will know very quickly if this is something which suits you and if you enjoy the role. I would not say teaching is easy, but it can be easier if you are passionate about your subject. You have to know your stuff, love the subject, and love sharing it with others.

What other directions could you go in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Educational policy and government work is often a draw for teachers. I have known of several teachers becoming politicians and social workers, as ultimately teachers have a strong desire to help improve the lives of others.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
I absolutely love teaching, and whilst I find it stressful at points, I would say to anyone interested in it to give it a go. You get so much back for what you give.

What do you do for a living?
I am an international hot air balloon and thermal airship pilot working most recently in the UK, Burma, Tanzania, Turkey and Canada but having also flown in Spain, USA, Italy, France and Germany (to name but a few)

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I worked as ground crew at Glasgow airport and was invited to take a flight in the company hot air balloon. I enjoyed it so much the pilot, who was leaving the company, suggested they give me the balloon and I find somebody to teach me to get my pilots licence.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I left school with very few qualifications and got a job at the airport working as ground crew. After that first flight I found a pilot willing to teach me and I studied for my pilots exams including air law and navigation, meteorological studies as well as the technical aspects of ballooning. Once I qualified as a private pilot I built my hours flying in Scotland, throughout the UK and overseas in Italy.

I became qualified as a commercial pilot after gaining the requisite number of flying hours and was offered a job as pilot for a Hot Air Ballooning company in Skipton, North Yorkshire flying the general public.

After a year with the firm in Skipton I decided to set up my own operation in Scotland and over a number of years built it up to become the largest Hot Air Balloon operator in the north of Britain, before downsizing and moving into corporate sponsorship.

A few years ago I suffered a bout of extreme ill health and with the family made the decision to fulfil a lifetimes ambition to fly an overseas contract. My first job was 5 months of flying in Tanzania living and working in a national park with elephants, zebra, lions and giraffes. This was followed by 5 months flying balloons in Turkey before moving on for 3 months to fly in Canada. I spent the last part of 2012 working in Burma, flying balloons over the many temples. I am returning to Burma again in October 2013 for 3-4 months.

Whilst ballooning I have also qualified to fly Thermal Airships. Whilst balloonists are a rare breed it is a fact that there are more astronauts in the world than there are Airship Pilots.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Whilst in the UK I will drive to an event, such as the London Marathon, tether the balloon ensuring it gains as much publicity for my client as possible before packing up and returning home. If I’m flying I’ll set up at an event, meet and greet the clients, fly for an hour and return them safely to the launch site.

Whilst overseas I am woken at 5am by my crew, driven to the take off site where my balloon has already been inflated and the guests collected. I step in to the balloon, fly for one hour, showing the passengers the sites before landing. Once landed I am then driven back to my accommodation for some breakfast after which I am free for the rest of the day. Generally speaking I am finished by 9am and can enjoy my time either going on Safari drives (Tanzania), visiting temples or sunbathing by the private pool (Burma) or going for motorbike rides into the Rockies (Canada).

Being a balloon pilot overseas is an incredible privilege. Pilots are treated extremely well with a very high standard of living. The camaraderie with colleagues, both crew and other pilots makes for a very enjoyable time away from home.

Because I have so many free hours and have gained many contacts within the Media I have been able to come up with TV Show formats leading to discussions with production companies both in the UK and the US. This is something that Scotair Global Ltd will be building on in 2013/2014.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, for many years I was in a band as a drummer and it was my dream to make it big in the music industry. We came close but as the saying goes ‘close but no cigar’

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They didn’t mind. They were very supportive of my wish to make it in the music industry and supported my decision to become a pilot with equal gusto.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Come and speak to me.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am one of the very lucky few to be offered contracts in some of the most beautiful parts of the world with the best companies in the world.

What do you do for a living?
I work in Human Resources – in the past have done generalist roles and currently specialise in Employment policy.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I started as a young management trainee with Marks and Spencer, which involved training in all aspects of management before I chose to specialise
in HR. The career support was very poor and I did a lot of personal research to find this opportunity.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
As above, management training scheme, learning on the job, augmented by business lead development in workshops. Opportunities exist to do professional development qualification, which is now very desirable although when I was training it was less so. I would encourage everyone now to do it.

Talk us through a day in your life.
I work in a Group (or head office) based role, therefore the work I do impacts the entire company which employs over 100,000 people. I might have meetings with key stakeholders for a project I’m managing or a policy I’m developing to gather feedback or views. I might have to meet with our Union representatives to discuss and negotiate any changes that need to be made or any developments that we want to explore.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes, when I was 18 I knew Iwanted to work in a people role and in a management capacity. However, from the age of 10 until I was about 16, I wanted to be a journalist and my other options when I left school were related University courses which I had secured offers for.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents wanted me to do what would make me happy, although my Dad, having had to do his degree at night while he worked full time, had wanted me to go to university as he saw it as a fantastic opportunity. He was surprised when I told him I wanted to do the Management training course instead, but he was supportive and very proud of my achievements.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Now, I would advise them to explore a HR/business degree and complete their CIPD. I would also encourage them to explore the various options that exist as HR management is, from my experience quite different to the standard grade curriculum.

What other career directions could you go in?
I currently specialise in Employment policy, but could also work in Reward, Learning and Devlopment, Employee Relations, Employee engagement or I could work as a business partner working to support the managers who lead the business. With the skills I’ve developed, I could also work in Change or Project management

What do you do for a living?
Executive IT Architect for IBM. I design large scale computer systems for banks, insurance companies and public sector. My most famous project was London Congestion Charging I am Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for IBM outsourced clients in the financial services sector for UK & Ireland.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
My father was an IT executive so I started learning about technology from a very young age and in those days computers filled entire rooms. My father coached me in my career choice. Careers advice at school was there were no jobs in IT!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Practical computing experience from age 12. Computer Science & Physics at University. I chose the right companies to work for to get large scale systems experience which meant moving around the country and employers to step up in career challenge and responsibility. I am a Chartered IT Professional and member of the British Computer Society – a professional body for IT professionals.

Talk us through a day in your life
I manage a team of 30 people on a project to re-engineer the world’s financial markets. My day starts with a review of the technical problems that may have occurred. I review technical designs from my team of architects and advise on problem resolution. I started as a computer programmer and now lead teams who do the design and building of systems. I also have responsibility for the technical integrity of solutions IBM is proposing to a wide range of financial services clients so I review and coach the sales and design teams to ensure the solution is what the customer really wants. I spend a lot of time listen to customers to understand their business challenges and find innovative ways of using technology to solve them. Every day has a different set of problems to solve so no two days are ever the same.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes I only ever wanted to do what I do now.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents were supportive on my career choice from age 12. No other career path was explored.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Have a passion for technology. Learn as much about technology as possible but do not just be a techie. Gain the widest possible business acumen and communications skills to be able to communicate with those who are not IT literate. Learn to sell yourself. All the technical knowledge in the world is no use if no-one wants to use it.

What other career directions could you go in?
Chief Information Officer (CIO) for a bank or insurance company. Freelance IT consultant.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a lecturer at Edinburgh University.  I lecture plant biology, ecology and physiology

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I’ve always been interested in the natural world and enjoyed biology at school.  Very little advice was available – in fact I don’t ever remember receiving any!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I did sciences at Standard Grade level (called ‘O’ levels years ago), then ‘A’ levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths.  I then did a degree in Plant Biology at Lancaster University.  After that I moved to Imperial College, part of London University, to do a PhD.  I then did three post-doctoral research contracts and a qualification in University teaching and finally got my proper job aged 31!

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
It’s extremely varied.  I normally give a one hour lecture at some point and may give a three hour practical class.  Different members of staff within our department have different responsibilities and apart from lecturing my main two jobs are:

i) Being a Personal Tutor
This means I have a group of students (about 25 of them) who I ‘look after’.  I see them at the start of every semester (term) and advise them about their course choice and talk to them about study skills and problems they might be having with their studying.  I also see them for short catch-up meetings throughout the semester.  I look after the same students for all of their four year degree.

ii) Being the Selector
This means I ‘select’ which students can come and do our degree (in Ecological and Environmental Sciences).  Lots more people apply for a place on the course than we have spaces for, so many applicants have to be turned away.  I see their University application form (called an UCAS form) and decide (along with people in the College office) who to accept.

I also supervise PhD students and do my own research into plant-insect interactions.  I write this work up into ‘academic papers’ and publish it in scientific journals.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Not at all.  I didn’t ever plan my career – it just sort of happened!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
No idea!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It’s a great job, but lots of people want to do it and it’s extremely competitive.  It also takes a very long time to train and you don’t get paid much.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could teach in schools or work in a research organisation.  I could work for Environmental Consultancy companies or publishers.  I could also use my degree and experience as a way into general managerial jobs – I suppose!

I might be useful for students filling in their UCAS form as I see lots of them and know what we look for

What do you do for a living?
As it says on the tin, I’m an area librarian! I am in based in a library in Midlothian and have overall responsibility for managing 3 public libraries.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
As a child I was always interested in books and reading, but never really saw it being any part of what I would do for a living in the future. I never had any career advice which prodded me towards this profession, but sort of got there under my own steam.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
It took me two goes to get the higher I wanted before moving on to university. I got an MA Hons in History and Politics at university but then, like a lot of graduates, found I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I quickly found out that teaching wasn’t for me, and so did a variety of short term jobs for a year until I decided to apply to a postgraduate one year course in Information and Library studies. One year didn’t seem a lot of time to invest in getting a job-related qualification which if I did well enough could earn me a second degree (MSc, which I got, by the way). Librarianship heavily involves dealing not only with books and information but also computers, and I was interested in information technology at the time, which was another factor that influenced my choice.

After graduating I worked in a college library, then a school library, then moved into public libraries, initially managing one branch before becoming an area manager. Not all libraries are the same, and the things you would have to do as a school librarian is very different from what you would do as a public librarian, even if the basics are the same.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Its very varied being a Librarian in a public library; its a service which is open to absolutely everyone, so you never know who could walk through the door. On any given day I would have to spend some time at the front desk talking to people, handling enquiries and requests for information (even the very odd complaint!), helping new members to join, issuing and returning books and DVDs, ordering things people want which we don’t have in stock, and helping people with the computers and printing. I also have to manage my staff, prioritising what tasks they have to carry out and what training they need to develop, and arranging that the libraries are staffed when someone is off sick or on annual leave.

In any given day I would also frequently have to attend meetings either within the library service or with other organisations. Nowadays libraries don’t have a huge amount of money, so when we offer extra services it’s often because we are working with partners to provide something both of us would struggle to do alone. These things could and do include working with others to set up a Science festival throughout the area, working with volunteers and other council departments to provide 1-1 tuition for older people in the basics of using laptops, and opening the library in evenings out with normal hours to allow youth work projects to take place. There is loads more going on, these are just examples.

Basically, the old image of a librarian as some stern person going around saying ‘shhhh’ all the time is long gone. To be a librarian now, everything is about organising, communicating and talking to people. You have to be a good talker!

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I had vague ideas about being a Modern Studies teacher. It didn’t work out that way – although a school librarian does deal with students and classes all the time, so I suppose I did get a taste of teaching when I was doing that job.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
If they had an idea, they didn’t tell me!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
At the moment, libraries, like every public sector service, are being squeezed, so be aware that the job market may be quiet for a while. I would say that being a librarian, whilst it may not be a very financially rewarding profession (don’t expect to get rich in this field, guys!), it can be rewarding in other ways. I remember one old lady saying ‘I don’t know what people like me would do without people like you’; moments like that make the job feel really worthwhile.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
There is a bit of overlap with Community Learning and Development, and librarians could probably fit reasonably well into a lot of jobs that require management ability and face to face dealing with the public.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
It’s not a 9-5 office job! You have to be prepared to work flexibly, working at different places, working evenings, weekends, etc. Its variety, as well as the variety of people you meet and deal with, is one of the best things about it.

What do you do for a living?
Management Consultant

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Always wanted to pursue an international career with different challenges and meeting (engaging with) different people all the time

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Journey was not to plan for a specific career but to create a wide base of opportunities within my areas of interest to allow me to choose in the future – i.e. international organisations, different cultures, etc. – all pursued through international schools, the International Baccalaureate, and continuing to study programmes like International Relations

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
No two days have appeared the same – sometimes it would be being assigned to a client in the most northern parts of Sweden to assist with food processing plants whereas in others, it would be sitting by the desk, and trying to work out how best a customer could develop a new product. What is the same, wherever you are and whatever you are trying to achieve, is the process of understanding the people you are working with, what the issues are, and push yourself to find a better solution – even by having to think outside of the box – that my standard day.

Was it your planned career when you were 18
International organisation like EU Commission, UN or international insurance (Lloyds)

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Fairly supportive of anything I wanted to pursue

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It is not a career for those who look for stability, certainty, and guidance, and requires personal flexibility, a high degree of personal integrity and being comfortable in areas of unfamiliarity

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Majority of management consultants end up working either as executives in a specific industry of choice, pursuing entrepreneurial paths, or – because of the continuous learning process and flexibility required by occupation – tend to make even greater “leaps” in career paths to completely different starts in life (not being worried about not being able to do it)

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
There is no definitive role description for a management consultant, and the tasks will vary from one environment to another, and from one project to another – however that is what is most appealing about the career; many negative and positive comments have been made about the management consultant but at the same time, many value the insights and experience they bring to businesses and particularly individuals – the best management consultant is one that shares his or her knowledge and does not guard it like some golden possession

What do you do for a living?
I was an account director then commercial director for a graphic design and marketing agency based in Edinburgh. The agency designed and produced corporate identities, exhibition stands, brochures, point of sale items, university prospectuses, websites and lots of other marketing materials.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I became interested in working in a marketing agency during my time studying at Napier University – I did a general commerce degree specialising in marketing and French. During that time a large advertising agency came in to talk to us and we had to work on a pretend project with them. This sparked my interest.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I chose to do a general business degree that allowed me to also keep my interest in languages. The majority of my Highers are language based.
At Napier after my degree I chose to do the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma (this was not as part of course it was an extra case study that I sat in my own time).
However on leaving Uni I started off in more of an IT based job and then was a recruitment consultant for 3 years – before starting at a sales promotion agency in business development. So it took me a number of years to eventually get to where I wanted to be!

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

I would take briefs from a client – perhaps for their new marketing campaign, an advert or brochure (face to face or over the phone). I would proof read the visuals provided by the designers in the studio. I would brief design and web team on new projects. Present project ideas to clients and take their feedback. Invoice clients for work carried out to date. Work on mailing ideas to generate new business for the agency. Work with more junior members of the team on their accounts and projects, providing input and advice. Attend brainstorms for new projects where the account manager tells the team the brief and we all think of ideas (sometimes a bit wild and wacky). A real mix of administration, client facing and team work.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I wasn’t sure but I did think I would work with my languages. As part of the Napier degree I worked in France for 6 months in a bank as a stagiaire (placement student). It was after this that I realised that although I enjoyed it, I was happier working in the UK in the short term.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Teacher or something secretarial

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

It would probably have helped me to have taken more business focused subjects at school – such as accounting or economics in my later years. Not essential but would have given me a head start for my business degree.
Keep your options open – not everyone who ends up in marketing has a specific marketing degree – a general business degree gives you a good basis and you may change your mind once you are at Uni.

One point to note – when I worked at KLP (a large sales promotion agency) lots of the account team were not graduates – they had just worked their way up – some of them from being sales promotion boys and girls at events.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

You could work for any organisation in their in-house marketing department. Everyone requires marketing from a small business to large banks (who employ hundreds of marketing personnel).
I could have also chosen to specialise in an area of marketing – such as sales promotion, direct marketing, PR, digital, events.

Q.What do you do for a living?
I work for Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s Economic Development Agency, which is trying to bring inward investment into Scotland to create employment.

 

My role is to attract companies to come and work in Scotland and to support Scottish companies export abroad. In particular, and most recently, in renewable energies.

Q.How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
When I was about 16 at school I was given a job aptitude test and one of the career options that my abilities and personality seemed to suit well was sales and marketing.

Q.What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
It all started whilst I was still at school. I had a very enjoyable summer job on a market stall selling fruit and veg! I learned the discipline of working hard, dealing with the public, persuading people, how to display goods attractively. Also I learned how to use pricing effectively to reduce waste e.g. to sell off short dated stock at reduced prices. Also, how to get along with colleagues and people from different backgrounds to my own. Latterly the business owner, who was a great mentor to me, gave me responsibility as a teenager to manage his staff one day every week.

I got good A level results so that allowed me to choose which University I went to. Thirty years ago there was only one University in England that offered a Business Studies/Marketing degree which was Lancaster. In Scotland it was only Strathclyde University.

I did quite a few graduate “milk round” interviews with big companies and I was offered a number of jobs as a graduate trainee. The most attractive offer was with Scottish and Newcastle to market beer in Edinburgh now called Heineken.

Following a year as a graduate trainee in marketing, I was then asked to work in sales in the South West of England for about 18 months before moving back to Edinburgh where for the next 8 years I worked my way up to being Marketing Manager for the Scottish Pub side of the business who sold beer to all of Scotland’s pubs, sounds like an ideal job – even got free beer!

I was then offered an opportunity to set up a new Design Agency in Edinburgh and be the Account Director in charge of new business which was really interesting and useful in giving me insights into other businesses which I had not worked in before.

I also took the opportunity to do a post graduate course in marketing to refresh and update my knowledge which I did in my own time in the evenings and weekends.

This was around the time that I had rejoined the beer company and did marketing for a range of beers and lagers.

I did further work in marketing for Higher Education and Health Scotland before being offered a role working for my current employer Scottish Enterprise 5 years ago. This was doing marketing to help regenerate the business community on the Clyde in Glasgow e.g. this project brought the BBC and STV to the Clyde but most recently I added the marketing of Scotland’s energy industry including Scotland’s renewable energy.

Q.Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Actually there isn’t a typical day it is very varied and challenging in that respect.

However, the main elements range from planning marketing promotional activity ( need to be good at maths and analysing information), communicating either in meetings, via presentations or via publicity material including the web, twitter and as a result I have learned more about social media. I am often involved in meeting partner organisations and suppliers across Scotland. There is a big need to monitor results and expenditure. Importantly you then must deliver your promotional/advertising campaign activity and plans which might include exhibitions and publicity events. I am also involved in media campaigns or being interviewed by the media. My type of job can involve travel and in my days with Scottish and Newcastle I visited many different places from Brazil to Monte Carlo!

Q.Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Yes I think it was.

Q.What did your mum and dad want you to do?

They encouraged me as my Dad was in recruitment at the time and my mum was a teacher and they thought it would suit me.

Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It is a great career because marketing should be at the heart of any customer orientated organisation and it is a nice mix of organisational, creative and people skills whether with internal or external customers.

You don’t have to have studied marketing at University but it helps but you need to be a hard worker willing to work independently or in a team setting.

If you do get the chance to work for a company that is really good at marketing then grab it with both hands as you will learn so much that you can apply it almost anywhere e.g. today that might be Diageo, Heineken ( used to be Scottish and Newcastle), Tesco or O2.

Q.What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
You can certainly acquire the skills in marketing to move on to be in Project Management (e.g. each marketing campaign or new product launch is like managing a project). It is possible to move from management of tasks to do more management of people rather than products or services eg at Health Scotland I managed 20 people so these are transferable skills to any sector, which my career in the last 10 years has proven.

Q.If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.

Marketing involves lots of things e.g. in addition you also learn about procurement, managing agencies, I learned a bit of law in my degree which you need as there are increasing rules and regulations in marketing. As the Scottish Government are our boss I need to learn how the Scottish political system works and what the main economic objectives of the Scottish Government and certain local authorities are.

What do you do for a living?

Master Carpenter at the Royal Lyceum
Theatre.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

As a schoolboy I volunteered to help the youth theatre shows, doing the lights and sound for their productions. I really enjoyed the teamwork and the camaraderie of this kind of work and I also enjoyed the buzz of working on a live event.
We had a very good youth theatre at my school and the teachers involved were inspiring to work with because of their passion for theatre and live performance, they even convinced me to take to the stage for a while but lets not get into that.!!
It was all hard work but I found it really gratifying to hear the buzz of the audience after the show.
There wasn’t a lot of guidance for careers it was all about getting a degree but this just wasn’t an option for me as I had no idea what I wanted to study.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I actually took a year out from education and worked my way around Australia and Asia for 9 months. This was the best thing for me as I wasn’t actually sure of what I wanted to do with my life. The travelling gave me life experience and confidence and when I returned I had decided to work in theatre/Film but I wanted a course that would give me broad and diverse skills that could be transferable if I ever wanted to travel again. ( which I did )
So this led me to what was then called the RSAMD, now the RCS in Glasgow to study Production and Technical Stage Management. It was a two year practical course that gave a wide range of skills in all aspects of theatrical production. However I was taken under the wing of the Master Carpenter at the time who basically gave me a trade and an unofficial apprenticeship after I finished the course.
It is the good people you meet in life that often influence what you end up doing for a living I have found. I went to college to do lighting and sound and ended up a carpenter. Go figure huh!!?

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

As the Master Carpenter I have overall responsibility for the health and safety in the workshop and the overall construction of the sets for the Lyceum. My days are filled by doing all the construction drawings for each aspect of the set on Vectorworks, I would then discuss these with my team and ask for their input as no one is infallible!! We would break things down into individual jobs before we start cutting the timbers marking things out and constructing the pieces. Once the set is constructed and painted (in usually 4 weeks) as a workshop we then have to transport the pieces up to the theatre to begin the “fit up” process and put the whole set together ready for performance, this all has to happen in a day and a half. It’s a tight schedule but we always get there.
There is a lot more to the job but it would take a bit to long to write it all down.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Not at all I had never used a saw or a chisel before I got to college.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Actually although they weren’t impressed by the course I had chosen they hadn’t offered any alternatives, I think they were happy for me to sink or swim by my own decisions.
I have been out of work for approximately 1 month in all over the past twenty years ( apart from the 6 months and 2 months travelling in South America )

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Things are all a lot more organised these days, in fact my lowly HND is now a degree so I guess that’s where I would head now. I am still in contact with the college and I regularly take on their students for work experience. What I would say is that even if you don’t have the skills or the experience it’s all about the passion, good nature and the willingness to work, the reason you go to college is to get the skills and the experience.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I have actually started my own company making bespoke furniture and I hope to expand this into running my own commercial workshop supplying local and corporate industry in materials and bespoke pieces.

What do you do for a living?
Lead Research Nurse at the RIE Clinical Research Facility, Edinburgh.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I did a BSc (Hons) in Health studies at Queen Margaret University part time and really enjoyed the Research part of the course. Only advice was from the Professor of the ward I worked with. Research Nursing was not really very popular then

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I trained as a Registered General Nurse, then did a Diploma in Nursing then a BSc (Hons) in Health studies (part-time at night-school) Before I specialised in Research Nurse nursing, I had worked as a General Nurse for 15 years. Most of my general nursing experience was in the acute admissions units and high dependency units in the RIE hospital

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I am responsible for a Research ward in the RIE Hospital . It has 16 beds and a small laboratory space. I have 30 staff who work here . I am responsible for the care and safety of the patients and volunteers and responsible for the staff and their training. My day is varied as it is often busy.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I started nursing at 18. Before this I was going to be a PE teacher but changed my mind at the last minute

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
To do further training after school and do something I enjoyed and was worthwhile

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
You will never be rich or bored, and it is a really rewarding career

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Nursing has a wide and varied remit. Getting your general training is just a start. There are so many areas to specialise in. e.g midwifery, mental health, paediatrics. The hours of work are varied and unsociable. You must always be updating your knowledge and lifelong learning goes along with nursing. It is a fantastic career

What do you do for a living?
Specialist nurse

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
Nursing was something I always wanted to do but the type of nursing I do now was not an area I was familiar with then. Unfortunately I was not given any advice but was supported in my decision by my family.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

At the time when I started nursing it was not a degree course as it is now. I needed o grades and highers in English and a number of health sciences. I gained general experience in different areas as well as working as a ward sister before deciding to become a specialist in my chosen field. I did post basic education in my field and then a Masters degree.

Talk us through a day in your life.
The area I work in is neurology and it is very diverse. I see patients who have been diagnosed with neurological illnesses throughout the disease trajectory so I may see a young person who is newly diagnosed or an older person who has had a condition for many years. I may see someone with little or no disability or very secretly disabled. I see people in my outpatient clinic in their home and help them manage their their illness. I also provide education to other health and social care professionals about neurological illness.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Although I wanted to be a nurse this was not how I thought I would be working. It is very different to how the traditional role of a nurse is perceived and in this current health climate it is how nursing of the future may look.

What did your parents want you to do?
Whatever I wanted to do and what would make me happy.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Do not specialise too early. Gain different life experiences as well as in the area or profession you want to work.

What other career directions could you go in?
Research
Education – nurse
Management

What do you do for a living?
Paramedic. I currently work within the education and training deaprtment.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I completed my degree and wanted to go into healthcare, the ambulance service were advertising so i decided to apply and was lucky enough to be accepted.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I completed a BA (hons) applied social science before joining the ambulance service. I then completed an IHCD technician and paramedic course – these are both courses run internally by ambulance services. I then continued to complete a community practitioner course with the university of derby. Since moving into education i have completed a Post Graduate certficate in professional and higher education with the Queen Margaret University. I am due to start an MSc in September. I have completed many CPD type courses, ALS, PHPLS, PHECC, ITLS (instructor), PHTLS,SMHFA (instructor), dementia champion, silver commander.

Talk us through a day in your life
As a Paramedic, you resond to calls as dispatched by ambulance control, these can range from emergency, urgent or transfers. My current role within education i manage a team of practice placement educators and we look after all the students within scotland, arranging all their placements, visiting them on a regular basis, and supporting them until they achieve the required standard to qualify in their job role.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
I wanted to be a vet when i was at school but wasn’t clever enough! Police force was my second career choice.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents weren’t keen on me joining the police, however they didn’t have any other career advice.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It’s not like casualty or any other TV show around the ambulance service! It can be very demanding both physically and mentally but also very rewarding.

What other career directions could you go in?
Managerial roles, special ops. response team, clinical advisers, critical care (helimed), education,

“The most exciting phrase to hear in Science, the one that heralds new discoveries , is not “ Eureka ” but , “that’s funny?”
(Scientists at GSK discover the on/off switch of genes affecting Heart Disease while looking for something completely different!) Picture of DNA Helix.

 

What do you do for a living?
My last job was Regional Director for an International Pharmaceutical ( Medicine) Company.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Interestingly it was via my University Careers department. I graduated in life sciences and had a post graduate teaching qualification too. They told me about this whacky thing I actually couldn’t pronounce properly or had ever heard of! Both I and a friend decided to give it a go!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Medicine companies usually look for a Science degree or medical, pharmacy background but not always. There are lots of different roles in the industry e.g. Finance, Engineering, HR, IT, Secretarial too and everyone gets great terms whatever your job. However. For my particular role Science is important and luckily that is what I studied.

My post graduate teaching course was a big help as it gave me confidence in communication and taught me skills in education which were a big help later on when managing people. Although I did my teaching practice I didn’t teach full time but I am so glad to this day I did it. (I also earned some dosh tutoring in holidays when I was broke!)

Find a company that is very interested in training and developing people, I was lucky both Beecham (now merged with Glaxo) and GlaxoSmithKline had very high expectations. Don’t be afraid of that -you will stretch along with it if you try your best.

There was lots of medical training, later lots of training in Management ( e.g. we did external courses at Cranfield University) working with external consultancies in “change management” ( e.g. when we merged or acquired a new company and we had to redesign the business) Examples might be Boston Consultancy Group ( for you business studies folks – the famous Boston grid guys!) or McKinsey – they really challenged me to rethink how I worked and I used to genuinely hope if I stood close to these clever people some of their brains would jump into my head!

I also studied for a post graduate diploma in Marketing at Uni the year before I got the Directors job as I had never worked in a pure marketing role and my career progression relied on me knowing marketing science. This course also teaches you about International Business which ended up being handy too as we increasingly worked closely with our European colleagues. I did this course in the evenings.

How the job progressed-first of all I entered in the sales organisation and during that time I was trained over a few months in classroom environment on a residential course. Once out calling on customers which I did for 18 months (Hospitals, GPs and pharmacists) you then need to study in your own free time for the professional standards exam. (ABPI)- done within 2 years of coming into the industry. It wasn’t hard to pass as you know it already from your company training but it was hard to get a “distinction” which is was what a good company asks for and tough as you are working during the day.

Career progressed from Medical Sales (18 months) to working with only Teaching Hospitals (about 2 years) and then I was able to become a Manager in charge of 8 staff in Nottingham. After that I moved company and became a Business Manager (in charge of 30 people) and the whole of Scotland. Lastly I became Regional Business Director with about 195 staff responsible for Scotland, Ireland and Northern England but based in London at head Office. The business was about £200 million in turnover. In addition the role put you in charge of a speciality across the UK (this is called Matrix management) in my case this was Health Policy (i.e. all the political issues affecting health) which was good as I was able to go to political party conferences which I enjoyed.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Long days and lots of travelling. I loved the fact that very few days were the same but hope you like the inside of hotel rooms as you will see lots of them!

In my last role it involved (when in Head office) lots of meetings to design how we are going to do our very best for our customers who are medical professionals trying to make people well. People might have you believe business is all about money, THINK AGAIN most people are doing this job to make people well otherwise they would work in another industry.

There were lots of visits to see customers (out in my Region) listening to what they wanted us to do more of or get better at. I had lots of meetings with my team and helping them manage their business. We did lots of business planning, lots of number crunching and lots of brainstorming /new ideas and creativity in our marketing planning. No day passed without learning something new. There was a lot of “paperwork /admin stuff” too but what job doesn’t? – Boring! By the end of a day your head usually hurts as your hard drive is full!

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I was advised at school to be a Science teacher.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My Mum and Dad wanted me to get a good education as they always felt you enjoy life when you understand the world around you. I wanted to go to teacher training college but my Dad thought best to go to University as it would give me more options later then go on and do teaching as a post grad and he was right- isn’t it annoying when adults are right? I look back now and realise it was the best thing.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Get a good all round education – if you want to work in the Medicines business then life sciences are a good bet. (Biological subjects/chemistry or physics). Find someone who works in the industry and ask them all about it. Then you can apply direct to the company or via a recruitment agent who specialises in the sector. Get any work experience you can working with people in any business or working in the sector. I had a job one summer in a wholesale pharmacy- whew all I did was lug about great boxes of medicines but it was a good insight.

Here’s one website to have a look at one UK company and get a feel for it:

http://www.gsk.com/

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Business Management, Project Management, Marketing and People management are very transferrable skills. Interestingly after a while the knowledge of a sector is the quickest thing to learn, it is the skills of how to do things that take the longest. Also many people worked all over the world for short or long spells. If you have worked for a great company- in this case Britain is a world leader -then you can open doors all over the place.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
At school take the opportunity to learn as much in IT, it makes your job easier and quicker .You will find, particularly in a job where often you are dealing with people far away, these skills will be worth their weight in gold.

In addition the competencies looked for can be learned in lots of settings e.g. During the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, volunteer work or summer jobs e.g.:

Teamwork

Personal Accountability (i.e. do you need to be told to work or do you do it on your own)

Leadership

Communication skills

Planning

Personal Organisation etc

I’m a self employed professional portrait and wedding photographer.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I’ve always loved photography from when I was 12. I think you need to start with a fascination for the actual process of taking pictures. I did not get any career advice with regard photography during my years at high school. I had several brief and unproductive meetings with my school careers officer about becoming a vet. And also an accountant. Their misplaced focus (back then) was not on what you really wanted to be. But on how best to get you into a course, any course in further education.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
20 years ago, I left Uni with a degree in Accountancy (not a bad background for any entrepreneur actually) I decided not to be an accountant. And do something I really enjoyed. So I worked for other established photographers for very little money and often for nothing at the weekends. Just to be around people who have are ‘doing it’ successfully and are able to make a living from wedding and portrait photography. Life was hard for the first few years earning very little. But all the time, you’re learning, observing and most importantly getting hands-on work experience. Gradually you’d pick up your own clients and word of mouth spreads.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve? 
see diagram. pretty accurate reflection.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do until I actually left uni. University or any form of further education is a wonderful life experience. From that point of view, I would encourage any child to live it. But in terms of the value of the qualifications themselves (particularly photography qualifications) and how further education prepares you for the next stage of your own life (i.e. making a living in the outside world), it’s absolutely hopeless.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Be an accountant or something just as safe. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
There are so many people in love with the IDEA of being a photographer. Don’t be one of those!!! It’s not glam. It’s not cool. But it is rewarding for those who actually want to learn and want to get better at their craft. Go into it with your eyes open. Try get unpaid work experience with working photographers to see first hand the hard work that is required every single day just to get work in. And simply to survive. Time is split between admin tasks/marketing yourself /improving your photography (see diagram). It’s not a joy ride, it’s not an easy option and certainly not a glamorous option.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
With talent and experience as a photographer you could turn your photography skills to most things. The idea is to try and specialise early on so you become known for being excellent at one thing e.g. commercial work, product shots, babies, pets, press & PR, interiors, weddings, stock photography, landscapes, fine art.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
In terms of a list of attributes crucial to (as far as possible) ensuring success and longevity as a portrait and wedding photographer.

In order of importance –

1. A willingness and the ability to work long hours and extremely hard on a daily basis. Be it on improving your photography skills or on all the often mundane tasks related to running your own business. It’s daily and it’s never ending.

2. You must must must be a people person. Be patient, likeable and fun to be around. The ability to mix freely and communicate confidently in any situation is something that can only be gained with experience, I’m afraid.

3. Actual talent for photography or photography qualifications (is deliberately 3rd – and most certainly nowhere near as important as the top 2).

And in all honesty, when I interview students etc looking for an assisting role, I only look to the first 2 attributes.

I don’t even care about number 3. I know given time, I can teach number 3. 

What do you do for a living?
Physiotherapist

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I was always interested in sport when I was growing up.

My Father worked in a Management Role in NHS and so I had an interest in Health Care.

Initially, however, I chose my work experience placement in an engineering role since I also had an interest in this field and enjoyed maths and physics. However I did not enjoy my work experience, as I realised I wanted a people focussed role in my future.

Careers advisors at school and a friend of the family suggested Physiotherapy. I obtained information about the University Courses and then organised independent work experience with two different physiotherapists – one working on hospital wards and one working in an out-patient clinic and I really enjoyed both experiences therefore decided to follow this path.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I went to school in Northern Ireland so at the time the requirements for entry to Physiotherapy Courses were 3 ‘A’ Levels, 2 of which had to be sciences. The required grades were 3 B’s. I then undertook a 4 year BSc Honours Degree course. All the courses in Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen) are now 4 years Honours Courses.

I qualified in 1991 and consolidated my knowledge by taking on a junior physiotherapy role at a large teaching hospital in Northern Ireland. This is a great way of starting your career because you are in a rotational role, which allows you to spend anything between 4-8 months in each clinical area.

Physiotherapists have many different roles:

· Sports Injuries in an out-patient setting;

· Neurological Rehabilitation – helping people regain function after a stroke, traumatic brain injury or neurological condition such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease;

· Chest Physiotherapy – helping people with Cystic Fibrosis or breathing difficulties such as asthma or Obstructive Lung Disease;

· Orthopaedics and Trauma – helping people regain function after joint replacement or a broken bone;

· Care of the Elderly- helping elderly people to stay as independent as possible and deal with health issues;

· Paediatrics – working with children:

· Lifestyle Management Programmes – helping people to manage long-term conditions using their own resources and local community assistance – reducing their dependency on the health-care system.

After working for two years to consolidate knowledge Physiotherapists will then often choose one of the specialities to work in and will then progress their career in this field. However there is scope to change as many of the skills learned are transferrable. I for example first specialised in Orthopaedics and Trauma but then changed to working in Neurology and have now taken those skills into Lifestyle Management and Private Practice Role.

Throughout your career there is a responsibility to stay up-to-date with the latest research and evidence based practice so Continuing Professional Development and attendance at post-graduate courses is essential.

I have gained qualifications in acupuncture, mobilisations and manipulations for treatment of joint and spinal conditions, specialist neurological treatment techniques and have also trained as a Pilates Instructor especially for people with joint and back problems.

Once qualified there is also the opportunity to travel. I have worked in both Canada and Australia, however to practice as a physiotherapist in both of these countries now does require you to sit further exams set by their registration bodies.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I have various roles

My role within the NHS is on a Lifestyle Management Programme for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so is very much an education role where I am assisting people to tap into their own resources to manage the multiple symptoms that this condition presents with. I work as part of a team with Psychologists which is proving very interesting. I assess people and find out how their symptoms affect them, I then work collaboratively with these people over a few weeks to relieve the impact of their symptoms and use health behaviour change techniques to educate them on how best to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

I also work on the weekend rota on the Orthopaedic and Trauma wards assessing and treating patients following joint replacement surgery or musculo-skeletal injuries. This involves teaching people exercises to regain muscle strength and range of motion and to mobilise/ walk independently again following surgery.

I also work in a Private Practice where I teach Pilates to people after back or limb injuries or to people with Neurological Conditions. Pilates is used to regain core/ abdominal muscle strength and balance and help people move more easily. I also treat people with Neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease or Stroke or Brain Injury. This treatment is often about gaining movement and strength/ control of limbs affected by the condition. It can also involve teaching exercises to help with Balance or walking ability.

I also work for a Case Management Company writing reports for legal cases for people who have sustained injuries and need on-going Physiotherapy. This assists the Courts in deciding how much funding a person may need for on-going care. This involves assessing clients and reporting on the effects of their injuries and how this will affect them in the future and therefore what Physiotherapy Care they may need.

This means I have a very varied career and goes to show some of the different roles a carrer in Physiotherapy has to offer.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I had considered a career in Engineering but decided it was not people focussed enough to hold my interest.

Working as a Physiotherapist has been really enjoyable and my career has changed a lot over the last 10 years allowing me to try lots of different things.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Mum and Dad encouraged me to work as a Physiotherapist. They both believed it would be a very rewarding career – and they were right

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I would say arrange a work-place visit with a physiotherapy department and get a feel for what the job involves. Try to arrange this visit at one of the bigger hospitals so you can find out about all the different specialities that Physiotherapists work in.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

As outlined already there are many different roles within Physiotherapy itself.

What do you do for a living?
Chartered Physiotherapist specialising in musculoskeletal problems.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
Initially I was a regular attender at sports events and noticed I started to spend more time watching the physios and medics on the pitch than the game
itself! I knew I wanted to have an active job working with people but was uncertain what direction I wanted to go in.I had a strong interest in human biology particularly the muscles and how they work. Limited advice was available to me however my mother was a PE teacher and had similar interests and encouraged me to visit a variety of physio departments for more information. From there I was hooked on the idea.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I applied for Physiotherapy training in Aberdeen. My training took 3 years but it is now 4 years. Competition for a place is high and training is demanding. I was expected to work clinically in Hospitals as well as attend lectures in University. There was a lot of practical work. When I qualified, I applied for junior jobs and experienced different fields of physiotherapy before deciding I wanted to specialise in musculoskeletal conditions.This includes having worked for some sports teams and abroad. I have done some post grad training and now am in a senior position at my work.

Talk us through a day in your life
My case load is varied and works on an appointment system.
Predominantly I see people with bad necks or backs but regularly see people who have been in accidents and are ready to start strengthening and moving their joints and muscles. I may spend part of my day in a hydrotherapy pool or even in a gym. In the last number of years I have been trained to specialise in people who have persistent pain. A high proportion of what I do is educational but also may involve manual therapy or exercise management.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Definitely. I was initially keen on all the sports side of physiotherapy but as I have become older I have digressed. I wanted a job which I found rewarding. This is still the case for me today.

What did your parents want you to do?
They were keen on me following this career.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
If you are a good listener, enjoy being with people and are prepared to work very hard then I would recommend this career.

What other career directions could you go in?
Physiotherapy is a very diverse profession. I could change direction and work with people who have neurological conditions, respiratory issues, heart problems, lost limbs,burns or hand injuries etc I could go into private practise or perhaps branch more into NHS management. I could even work out in the community and visit people in their own houses. I could also choose to return to sports physiotherapy and could have applied to work at the Olympics or Commonwealth games.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
As medicine and evidence improves Physiotherapy is having to evolve. Physiotherapy is taking a greater role within health care support. It is not unusual now to see physios working with doctors in clinics. We can send people for scans and injections and physios are now allowed to prescribe drugs. Its is an exciting time for this profession.

What do you do for a living?
Police Officer – Local Police Commander – Lothians and Scottish Borders Division

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I wasn’t given any career advice at school and ‘drifted’ into policing. However, this is not the message I’d want to portray to students!!!!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I have been a police officer for over 30 years spending some 20 years in the Metropolitan Police as a detective; latterly specialising in Murder and
Serial Sexual Crime. I transferred to Lothian and Borders Police in 2005 as Detective Superintendent, holding the portfolio for Major Crime Investigation, Drugs and Surveillance. I then progressed to Head of Special Branch prior to being promoted to Divisional Commander for West Lothian.
I was appointed Local Police Commander for the Lothian and Scottish Borders in April 2013.

I have attended numerous specialist courses as I progressed through the ranks including Senior Investigating Officer, Firearms, Kidnap, Counter Terrorism, Sexual Offences, Leadership and Management. I attended a Leadership in Counter Terrorism Course at the Kennedy Business
School, Harvard University. I hold a BA in Business Studies from Napier University, which I received after studying on a part-time basis.

Talk us through a day in your life

No two days are the same!!! I normally hold a morning Tasking and Co-ordinating Meeting to review crime and operations over the previous 24hr period and ensure that resources are suitably tasked for the proceeding 24hrs. I attend a wide range of meetings on a daily/weekly basis which included a number of business areas including Divisional Management, Event Planning, Criminal Justice, Child Protection and numerous partnership meetings across the four local authority areas. During Serious or Critical Incidents I convene Gold Meetings to determine the strategic direction of the particular incident or event. Although my role is predominantly at a strategic level, I still get involved in operational issues and regularly work late evenings and night duty.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No – I wanted a career but I was unclear exactly what I wanted to do.

What did your parents want you to do?
Get a job!!!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It’s a very interesting and rewarding career, with so many opportunities.

I intend to stay within policing and may seek promotion to the next level.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Previously, I worked for a building society (now a bank) and was bored of the daily grind with each day being far too similar. I had a good think about what occupations offered more variety and found lots of advice and guidance available from the police recruitment department.

 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I didn’t give any thought to my current occupation while in my formative years. Having left school at 16, I was employed by a Building Society in Edinburgh. After carrying out various roles there, I decided to do something completely different and at the age of 23 became a police officer.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
It depends upon your role, you have no idea what incidents are going to happen at any given time, providing advice and assistance to anyone in need of it. You may be sent to a serious road traffic collision, a pub fight, domestic dispute, theft or a large public event.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
I’m not sure.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Complete your education first, or do another job first. Generally, the Police prefer to wait until someone is about 23 years old before employing them. The reason for this is that it costs a lot of money to train a police officer and younger people are more likely to leave the service. It’s best to have seen a bit of life and then be sure this is the correct career path. You can join the service as a Special Constable before applying to join, this gives you a flavour of what to expect.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Once you are in the service, there are many options, community policing, road policing, CID, surveillance, forensic computer examination

How did you get interested in what you do?

 

As a child I remember being keen to go into teaching. At primary school I had a teacher who really inspired me and I wanted to be like her! During 5th year at PHS I was choosing subjects and aiming my education to help me get into university to study Primary Education. The school was helpful in that they allowed me to use a study period to go and gain experience in a local primary school and gave advice on open days and prospectuses for courses available to me. .

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

As mentioned earlier, I chose my Highers to support me in my aim to be a primary teacher. I took 4 Highers because I felt that would be what I could manage to achieve with quality grades and used my spare study periods to visit a local school. I visited some open days, at that time to decide my subjects for 6th year, but was told that if I achieved my expected grades there was really nothing for me to do in 6th year. As a result I applied and gained interviews, which the school helped me to prepare for and finally secured a place at University.
My career has since followed the normal path of gaining a Bachelor of Education with Honours, probation year, temporary job and finally permanent. To further extend myself I have recently been undertaking my Masters in Education

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

I work with one class planning, preparing and delivering lessons which I hope will excite and enthuse the children. There is then the assessment/marking and follow up planning to cover any issues, I manage support staff within the classroom and work closely with colleagues. There are also meetings; both in school and with other professionals, training to improve in certain areas and of course cups of tea and chats at break and lunch with my friends and colleagues.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Yes

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

I was lucky in that my mum and dad were keen for me to follow the path I had chosen and they pushed me and supported me in my effort to achieve this.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Find out what the universities want in terms of grades, keep up to date with any current news about education and find some way to get practical experience as the job is a very practical one and that can really help make you stand out from the crowd

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

You can advance up to Depute Head and Head Teachers, then possibly further within the council. Also there are opportunities to be involved with education organisations if you have an interest in a particular area.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.

I love the fact that when I am working with the children, everyday is different. I find it exciting to investigate new ideas and gain new knowledge along with the children.

What do you do for a living?
Essentially I am a project manager working as part of the Property function of a large financial organisation. I work as part of a team looking at ways we can be as flexible as possible with the way we work. This could mean flexibility in terms of the hours we work, the location we work from or the equipment we use.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I didn’t really choose this career direction is just sort of happened. I joined the bank in 1999 as a Purchasing Manager and was heavily involved in tendering contracts for the Property Department. I found it a diverse department which encompassed topics as varied as industrial cleaning, air conditioning, catering, physical build, interior design and mail rooms. Although I did not come from a property background I found it easier to be in negotiations on contracts on the topics mentioned above than buying for example IT equipment or services, where I was clueless as to the “lingo” and so I kind of began to understand a bit about commercial property and how such multi-occupied premises were run and quite enjoyed it. As a result when a position came up working within Property itself, I applied for and got it and have kind of not moved on since!

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I think my “journey” to the role I’m in today was one undertaken without a map! I have never been one of those people who knew what they wanted to do when they grew up (still don’t but that’s another issue). I used to be envious of my class mates at school who could say with certainty.. “ I plan to be a ….doctor/ lawyer/ teacher etc) I was pretty OK at most subjects in my mid-teens and so when it came to narrowing down to 3 subjects for A level I found this really difficult as there was no subject I particularly excelled at. As a result the advice I was given was to take sciences as they meant I would have greater flexibility in choice of degree and or career choice at a later stage (when presumably a light bulb would go off in my head and I’d “know” what I was meant to be). Looking back this was disastrous as my leaning was much more towards an “Arts” profile rather than a “Science” one, but I just didn’t recognise this at the time.

I took Chemistry, Physics and English at A level and let’s just say results day was not a happy one! I ended up re-doing a year at 6th form college and taking English, Economics and Sociology A levels instead. This time round was far more successful, not only in my subject choices but also my results. Although painful at the time when I failed my first attempts at A levels I think it was a good learning for me as I had never been exposed to the subjects of Economics or Sociology before then, and ended up really loving them. So much so, that I took a Sociology Degree at Southampton University.

Although a fabulous 3 years away from home, and a subject I enjoyed, I was not certain that a career in social work or academia was for me, and so came the next dilemma….. what was I qualified for with a BScSoc? The answer was I didn’t know, so ended up leaving university with my degree and getting a job as a sales assistant (a job I began to loathe) as I suddenly realised that I was now supposed to be in the working world and had to earn money!
To cut a very long story short, I left my shop job to take a temporary office job with the British Council relocating their London based staff to Manchester – this exposed me to “office life” which was very eye opening after 3 years studying and then hanging around a shop floor. This role lasted some 18 months and meant I became an official London commuter and having had the office experience I then applied (and got) a job with the American Embassy in London working as a Consular Officer. This meant I officially went to work in the USA every day (albeit the USA in Grosvenor Square London) and I stayed there for 6 years. Starting off in the Consular office working with Visa queries (of which there were thousands daily) then moving to take a role as PA to the Head of the Consular Department. My boss was a lady who had been one of the hostages in the US Embassy in Iran in the 1980s interestingly enough and from this role I got a much broader view of what other jobs there were in the Embassy as I had to liaise with all departments outside of the Consular section. As such this was a very educational stepping stone to my next role which was as a Procurement Manager with the US Embassy London.

Here again I wasn’t really qualified in purchasing, but decided to gain a post graduate qualification from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply by studying at night. I learnt a lot on the job and had to buy and write contracts for an array of goods and services including freeze dried meals for the US Marines, building & construction works in US Embassy official’s homes including that of the Ambassador himself and photocopiers for Presidential visits. I regularly liaised, and sometimes visited other US Embassies abroad and was sent on training courses regularly to the State Department in Washington – a nice perk of the job! In 1995 I was part of a team sent across to Belfast to support the serving US President – Bill Clinton’s visit to Belfast. Long hours, hard work, but an interesting experience!

After 6 years working with the Americans I decided it was time to move on and now, fairly experienced in the world of purchasing, I applied for, and got a job with RBS in their purchasing Department in London. It was just before RBS took over National Westminster Bank and so I joined a team of 2 Procurement professionals in London only to be subsumed into a 50 strong team 6 months later when the 2 entities merged.

I have basically stayed with the same organisation since then although have held maybe 3 or 4 different roles in that time. I had the opportunity to move into the area of Continuous Improvement (WorkOut, Lean, Six Sigma etc) Innovation and Best Practice for some years which led to my move from London to Edinburgh and since then I have moved to focus on the Flexible working arena. This subject area I find very fascinating and important since it is not only a relatively new topic in many industries, but one which requires all the skills of a change manager to encourage others to embrace an historically unfamiliar concept, and move away from “line of sight” management towards a more “grown up” style of working. It also requires the bringing together or 3 areas in order to make the concept work – namely Property – we must have flexible offices and other spaces, Technology – we need the IT equipment to be able to connect remotely to our work IT systems and HR – we need contracts and People managers to allow varying options in the way we work. Although I am not saving lives or solving “world hunger” I do get some sense of satisfaction from my role, when I can see that truly helping teams and managers to embrace flexibility in the workspace, can bring not only work/life balance rewards, but also common sense cost savings in these austere times.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I don’t think I ever have two days the same, but as with most office jobs I have numerous team calls, downloads, working groups to attend on a weekly basis. On top of this when working on a delivery project I would be liaising with the various contacts in the different businesses within the bank to move the particular project along – whether that would be at the early stages of educating people about the concept or actually mobilising work to undertake utilisation studies etc to see how frequently or infrequently space is used. There is a lot of face to face interviewing of managers to build a deeper understanding of the business unit with which we are working and making sure the right people are communicated with at the right time, with the right message. Currently I am liaising with a lot of university academics regarding a benchmarking piece of work we are doing and that has proved very interesting and eye opening. Not least because everything moves at a very different pace in academia!

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do at 18 but was told by the careers department that, having filled in some questionnaire, I should become a librarian!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My Dad wanted me to be a Solicitor or something in the legal profession (as I think secretly he had wanted this for himself). My mum wanted me to be a journalist – largely I think because she wanted me to read the news on TV!?

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
I’m still not actually sure what my career is – if’ it’s project management then I guess getting some form of qualification in Project Management would be helpful – although not essential – a lot of the time I use “common sense”. I think the best piece of career advice I ever received was to try as many things as possible and if nothing else it will tell you what you don’t want to be and this will help narrow down your choices. I think this was very true for me as I hated being a sales assistant, so a sales role was never going to be on the cards. That said I wouldn’t have known that unless I’d tried it.

I think for anyone I would say in my experience having a degree (albeit a non-vocational “ology”) and trying different jobs – learning from each one – have stood me in the best stead. Unless you are really sure what you want to do from an early age, I think the only way to explore and learn it to try things, talk to others and experience as much as you can for yourself. Often what the job description says and what the job is actually like are miles apart!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I guess with Project Management you can deliver projects in all sorts of project areas so I could in theory go on to work outside of the Property field and leave my comfort zone of “buildings”. When you think about it most jobs involve some degree of Project Management just to put some order around your “things to do list” so any form of Administrative or Organisational role might also suit. For a while I did some training in Continuous Improvement Techniques so I guess I could look to move into being a trainer of some sort – although that may involve obtaining some sort of accreditation first.

What do you do for a living?
Project Manager for Pharmaceutical Company

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
When I was at school I wanted to study medicine. I did not achieve the grades, so decided to study Pharmacology as I was really interested in developing new medicines.

I discussed this with my guidance teacher at school, who suggested that I study Pharmacy.

At the time I thought that being a Pharmacist meant working behind the counter in Boots and this did not seem so exciting. I now know that Pharmacy and Pharmacology are actually very similar degrees and if I had studied Pharmacy I would actually have had more options in my career choice, but I really enjoyed my course and love what I do now, so this is not a problem.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did a BSc (hons) in Pharmacology at Edinburgh University, followed by a PhD in Neuroscience at Edinburgh University.

My PhD was sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Company GSK so part of my time was spent in the labs at GSK.
This gave me the opportunity to have experience working in a Pharmaceutical Company, which I really enjoyed, so I decided that I wanted to further my Career in a Pharmaceutical Company rather than in Academia.

I then did Post-Doctoral work for 2 years at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for a Pharmaceutical company called Amrad, which focused on trying to isolate the active ingredients from Aboriginal Medicines.

On returning to Scotland I started working for a Contract Research Company. I started as a Study Director, managing studies in the Pharmacology department and progressed within this department to be the Associate Director over a period of 10 years. I was then offered a transfer into the Project Management team, which I really enjoyed as this allowed me to gain experience in other aspects of the Drug Development Process.

Talk us through a day in your life
My job is very varied, which I really enjoy. I am currently managing 3 products which are Commercially available (they are sold all over the world),
a tablet for breakthrough pain in cancer, a testosterone gel for testosterone deficiency in men and a cream for anal fissures (not very glamorous!) in
addition to a new product which is being developed (in clinical trials) for blood cancer.

My job is to liaise with all the different departments (Manufacturing, Quality, Regulatory Affairs, Clinical, Marketing, Commercial, etc) to ensure
that the Projects stay on track with respect to timelines and budgets. I organise regular team meetings to discuss and review the project progress and
to deal with any problems which may arise and I provide reports to the Senior Management team on Project Progress.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
At 18, I was really not sure where my degree would take me at all, but its worked out quite well.

What did your parents want you to do?
Medicine

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Biology, Chemistry and Maths are probably key to a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry, however there are many different types of jobs
within the Pharmaceutical Industry so (for example) if you particularly enjoyed English and Biology then an option of Medical Writing may be something you might be interested in.

Look for opportunities to gain experience in laboratory/scientific work over the holidays.

What other career directions could you go in?
There are a wide variety of different directions my career could go, as a Project Manager I have a good understanding of how the different functions work.

What do you do for a living?
Consultant Psychiatrist

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Psychiatry attachments and course as part of medical degree (MBChB)
Intercalated BSc(Hons) Degree in Psychology
I never knew when at school what I wanted to do. I was advised, mainly by family, that a medical degree was a good first degree to have, since there is such a variety of different career pathways within medicine.
It is also harder to change to Medicine from another University course, than vice versa.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Aberdeen Grammar School (left 1985), Edinburgh University Medical School (MBChB 1991), Intercalated BSc(Hons) Psychology (1989), ‘House jobs’ as Junior Doctor in General Medicine and Surgery (1year 1991-1992,Edinburgh and Livingston), Senior House Officer job in Old Age Medicine (6 months, Edinburgh), BasicTrainee Psychiatry jobs (Edinburgh and Tayside, 3 years 1993-1996): Membership of Royal College of Psychiatrists 1996, Research Fellowship, University Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of Dundee 1996-1999 (PhD 2003), Higher Training in Psychiatry (2000- certificate of completed training 2006 (flexible training), Consultant Psychiatrist since 2007.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Clinical Lead for multidisciplinary team in Substance Misuse Service, Clinics with patients requiring medical/ psychiatric assessment who have a dependence on drugs/ alcohol, Prescribing and Consultative role, liaising and referral to other services, writing letters to/ communicating with GPs, Teaching medical students often during clinics, also lectures, tutorials, workshops, supervising trainees. Clinical Audit, Quality Improvement and Research. Managerial and Governance responsibilities, Attending and Chairing meetings, Continuing Professional Development and Appraisal.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No. Except that I went to medical school. I had a vague idea that I might want to end up doing Research.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They never overtly commented, but did advise me that Medicine was a good idea if I was unsure, since it was such a diverse field and the job security was good. I come from a very medical background

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Speak to as many doctors as you can before you decide. Be prepared to work harder than you might imagine, sometimes to the point of sacrificing other areas of your life. On the other hand, there are big rewards that follow from hard work in terms of job satisfaction and interesting life experiences.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Many very diverse fields eg. Pathology, Haematology, Anaesthetics, Surgery, Cardiology, Psychiatry, Public Health.
Being a Psychiatrist is very hard work and can be stressful, but it is highly rewarding and is never dull. It is probably the medical specialty where you get to know your patients as people the most. You learn a lot about other people’s lives, which is a great privilege.

How did you get interested in what you do?
I love meeting people and working as part of a team. I also wanted to travel and worked my way abroad.

 

What was your training to reach the role you are in today?
I did an HND in Hospitality Management

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
I plan what staff are required for the restaurant. I plan and track what stock is required and how to organise the whole restaurant.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Yes

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My mum and dad wanted me to study maths at Edinburgh University!!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
The harder in life you work, the luckier you get! Seriously it is a fun job. There is lots of variety and the experience and training can take you in lots of different paths and directions.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Conference Co-ordinator, contract catering, work in bars, weddings/functions, hotels.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
My initial position was as part time first aider and was advertised via Scottish Borders Council. More hours became available as a school assistant and I applied and was successful and combine the role as first aider and office administration.

 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
I have an ‘ONC’ is physiological measurement and worked at the ERI for 5 yrs so when the first aider position came up I was ‘qualified’ and experienced.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
All aspects of first aid, from pupils being sick, not feeling well to epilepsy and diabetes. not a day goes by without a lot of blood, cuts and grazes! the phone rings non-stop in the office with questions, queries, complaints and very strange requests! i have to make sure all pupils are registered and accounted for throughout the day. i have to carry out tasks directed by teachers and smt at the drop of a hat and therefore have to be organised and disciplined.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No. I always wanted to be a PE teacher but didn’t have the qualifications to get into university.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
As long as it was a full-time job with propects in a well structured organisation and made me happy then they were happy. My parents have always had an excellent work ethic which was passed onto myself and siblings.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Even if you don’t have the necessary qualifications apply anyway! fill your applications with lots of enthusiasm and positivity. Experience, whether it’s voluntary or paid work always helps. Enrol on an evening class or open learning course.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could apply to work in other organisations within an office environment or apply to work in the care/medical sector.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
A lot of what goes on during my day cannot be planned and the day never ever goes the way you want it to go and I regularly go home with a spinning head! Working in close contact with the pupils is both very rewarding and very frustrating especially when they start crying or shouting at you! However, I do genuinely my job and don’t want to leave it until I retire!

What do you do for a living?
Scientist at Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Enjoyed Science at school. Chose a degree in Biochemistry. Careers advice was limited at this stage.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Studied Biochemistry & Immunology at University of Strathclyde. Chose Strathclyde because my brother went there before me and it was nearest to home. (told you I didn’t have much careers advice). Didn’t know to try and find out which University was best for the subject I was interested in.

Finished 4 year honours degree and looked at options. With an honours degree it basically came down to a choice of a job in industry (Pharmaceutical companies Research & Development) or as a technician/research assistant within an academic laboratory. Without a postgraduate qualification options are limited as is career progression. On that basis I took a position that gave me the option to study for a PhD within the Medical School at the University of Aberdeen. PhD took 3 years to complete. I then took up a post-doctoral position at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh. Obtained a Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust which gave me the opportunity to develop my own independent research program. Subsequently obtained a position at the Roslin Institute.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
These days I get little opportunity to work in the lab. My job now mostly involves directing research staff within my group, writing new funding proposals, preparing manuscripts for publication in scientific journals, supervising postgraduate students enrolled in Masters of PhD programs within the University and some teaching of undergraduate students studying to be Vets.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I had no real idea when I was 18. All I knew by then to my disappointment was that I wasn’t good enough to be professional footballer!!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Probably to be a Priest!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Look for opportunities for work experience in research labs during school holidays and if you have an idea of what subjects you are interested in then find which universities have good reputation in that subject. Visit departments on open days.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Other options would have been to work in the Pharmaceutical Industry either in research or as a clinical research associate who helps liase with medics to run clinical trials of new drugs/therapies. Other options are to work in Scientific publishing or increasingly in the area of public understanding of science and public engagement. One other possibility might be in the area of Patent law and intellectual property.

What do you do for a living?
Scottish Government lawyer

 

How did you get interested in what you do?

Through the study of history, which led to an interest in current affairs (history in progress…) and the decision to study law, and from there to the wish to use my legal skills to help shape current events.

School careers advice was very basic in my day – stuff along the lines of ‘you have the grades to do x, y or z’. University open days were however very useful and helped me to decide both what, and where to study. The best advice came from family and friends.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did the ‘arts’ highers at school, coasted shamelesly in 6th year, and then completed a 4 year LL.B at Edinburgh University.
I took a year out before deciding to train as a lawyer, and worked in local government for half that year.
I then did the one year Diploma in Legal Practice at Edinburgh University, followed by a two year training contract leading to qualification as a solicitor.
I worked in private practice in Peebles for 10 years, before leaving to join the civil service where I have been for 11 years. I am now a senior principal (middle management).

The civil service has a very strong focus on continuing professional development, and I carry out many hours of training every year, including delivering a lot of training both internally and as a guest lecturer on EU law at Edinburgh Napier University.

(I also went back to college and completed a part time history degree. Still my first love…!)

Talk us through a day in your life
I lead the Environmental Protection Team in the Scottish Government Legal Directorate. The work is very varied and covers climate change, nature conservation (including genetically modified organisms and wildlife crime), pollution prevention and control, water industry and waste (including radioactive waste).

I discuss any ongoing issues with my team, mostly relating to compliance with the many EU directives regulation environmental matters such as the Water Framework Directive and the Waste Framework Directive.

I will check on progress in any of the court actions against SG that raise environmental issues, typically involving allegations of non-compliance with the nature protection rules in the Habitats Directive and the Wild Birds Directive. I will check or draft advice and instructions for the Advocates we use in such cases.

I will deal with any advisory work that has come up, typically making sure that the Scottish Ministers are acting within the law, and in particular making sure that what we do is devolved and is fully comptatible with human rights and with EU rules.

I will draft any new secondary legislation that is needed (also known as statutory instruments), and instruct specialied Parliamentary drafters to prepare any new primary legislation that is needed. Recent Acts of the Scottish Parliament handled by my team include the Wildlife and Natural Environmental (S) Act 2011 and the Water Resources (S) Act 2013. Was this your planned career when you were 18? Yes – I always wanted to work in Government. I just took the tourist route to get there…

What did your parents want you to do?
They wanted me to do what I wanted to do, and gave me very strong support when I was studying.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Take an interest in the world, particularly current affairs. Be outgoing – being a good lawyer needs an equal mix of good people skills and intellectual rigour. Above all, be prepared to work hard. If you do, the rewards will come.

What other career directions could you go in?
The legal profession is very varied, and legal skills are highly transferrable. I could move to another area of law quite easily, and probably will – the civil service encourgages staff to move around.

I could move into policy advice in the civil service, or advice delivery in the third sector. I worked for three years on secondment as the lead adviser on bankruptcy and court enforcement, including putting a large bill throught the Scottish Parliament (now the Banrkuptcy and Diligence (S) Act 2007).

I could move into legal research, perhaps at the Scottish Law Commission.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
A good lawyer will look to put something back into the pot. Many lawyers give free legal advice to people and to charities (called ‘pro
bono’ work – a smattering of latin is still useful…). I for example have worked for many years with the Citizens Advice Service, and am currently Chair of Peebles Citizens Advice Bureau.

We would be happy to talk to anyone who is interested in volunteering with us

What do you do for a living?
I am a qualified social worker with about 20 years experience. I have worked within residential care, including secure and close support facilities. I have worked in a busy practice team, specialising in child welfare and protection, have been in the voluntary sector, worked
within Youth Justice and now work with families.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I became interested in social work after working as a volunteer in a psychiatric hospital when I was an undergraduate student studying Fine Art. I organised art classes for some of the residents which culminated in us gaining sponsorship to exhibit their work in a gallery. I have to be honest that I am also very inquisitive about people. I think you have to be intersted in people to want to do this job. You have to make some really tough decisions and work under extreme pressure at times. I knew nothing at all about social work when I firsted started out, but it all just seemed to fit when I started working with young people and their families.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I had a great experience of school, studying O Levels and A Levels which led me to University to study a BA Hons in Fine Art. A fabulous experience – but one that didn’t really open up many job opportunities. I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher but chose instead to do a Masters Degree in Social Work. This was a 2 year post grad but can also be done as an undergraduate course too over 4 years. You have a variety of placements to help you decide what area you would like to specialise in. I have also followed this up with a further qualifiaction from Stirling University in child protection and welfare. I am now working for the Family Decision Making Team which looks at bringing in the wider family network to support their families where there are concerns about the child.

Talk us through a day in your life
I work fulltime – but with very flexible hours to suit the needs of the families I work with. My minimum week is about 36 hours although it is often more than this. Sometimes I will spend all day out of the office travelling up and down the country meeting with family members helping them to become involved with family they may not have been in contact with for many years so they can contribute to the planning. It can be emotional and really tough, but can be incredibly rewarding too. Sometimes we have to do a bit of detective work to trace family members. I will meet with a variety of professionals involved with the young person – social workers. teachers, doctors, health visitors etc. I oraganise a Family Meeting and invite everyone to attend and support the family to come up with a plan that will meet the needs of the young person. We also have responsibilities for areas development and one of my key areas of interest is domestic violence.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Absolutely not! I had visions of owning my own gallery – being a famous painter and living a very lavish and cultured life. However what I would say about Social Work is that I am NEVER bored and from time to time meet families and young people I have worked with in the past and am overwhelmed when they remember me and speak positively about the role I had in their life. That kind of feedback is priceless.

What did your parents want you to do?
My father was a police officer and my mother was a teacher. Both of them were very supportive of my choices and very focused on my education. Neither of them went to university and were extremely keen that I should have that opportunity – as I hope my children will.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Get some life experience first. Go travelling if you can. Do some volunteer work too. Be clear that Social Work is an extremely demanding job and a very emotional one at times. You have to be confident and a good communicator. You have to be interested in people, but have a desire to see strengths in people and want to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

What other career directions could you go in?
To be honest I dont really know. I am very happy in my current post. Sometimes things happen for a reason and opportunities present themselves – when they do grab them.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
Not that I can think of. There are loads of different opportunities in social work – adults, criminal justice, Substance misuse, disabilities, older people, hospitals, courts etc etc. Lots of potential to learn new skills.

What do you do for a living?
I go into companies and help them improve their software development (consultancy) and I train software professionals

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I saw a computer at the Science Museum in 1975 and played with the BASIC programming language at school from 1977 onwards. While still at school I got a holiday job programming accountancy software for a small company. (My previous holiday job was as a cleaner at a service station – my salary went from 60p/hour to £3/hour and I never looked back!)

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I decided to study Computer Science at university. I was given advice about ‘good’ courses and chose to come to Edinburgh. Since graduating I have spent a lot of time reading books, learning new techniques, going to conferences and user groups, writing articles and speaking at events. All these things bring me into contact with interesting, knowledgable people and help me acquire new skills.

Most of my professional life has been spent as a ‘contractor’, doing short assignments for various employers, mainly in and around Edinburgh. I’ve also had some ‘permanent’ roles for companies like IBM and Amazon, although I’ve frequently spent longer with an employer as a contractor than I have as a permanent employee.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

Where to start. Every day is different at the moment.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

Yes

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

They supported my choice

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Start programming at home. There are plenty of online resources.
Speak to people about becoming a programmer.
Look for a local computer club.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

Project management, business, innovation, quality assurance.

What do you do for a living?
I am a solicitor and partner in a law firm.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I had some family connections with the law. There wasn’t much career advice, though I remember speaking to a solicitor at a career’s evening at school. There are always lots of lawyers protrayed on TV and that might have had a subliminal influence too.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I was interested in English and History at school , but studied a wide range of subjects. I went to Edinburgh University for my law degree and post graduate diploma. I was then a trainee solicitor for two years in a law firm.

Talk us through a day in your life.
As a partner, I spend a lot of my time supervising other lawyers, answering questions about their work and checking what they do.

I also spend a fair amount of time helping to run the business, trying to get new clients for the firm. My legal work invloves defending accident claims against clients of the firm. That invloves reading a lot of paper work comprising accident reports, witness statments and working out whether there is a legal case or not. I also have to consider medical reports and records to work ouit the vlaue of cases and negotiate settlement of claims with other lawyers. One of the most interseting aspects of my job is visiting the scenes of accidents and taking statements from those invloved. I have visited submarines, aircraft carriers and fighter bases on my career. However, most of the time is spent writing letters to clients, drafting e mails, on the phone and in meetings. If cases don’t settle, then I will need to appear in court to argue the case or instruct an advocate ( a specialist in court appearances ) to do so. Not many cases end up in court and it is nerve wracking when they do.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Pretty much.

What did your parents want you to do?
They never expressed a view, but I think they were pleased I chose this career.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
You will need to study very hard to get good grades to go on to study law. Although the legal profession has taken a beating in the last few years and traineeships and jobs for newly qualified lawyers are scarce, it is a degree well worth studying. There are many career options open to you other than being a lawyer. Even as a lawyer, you can have a hugely varied job – from criminal law, to famly law, from property law to multi milllion pound deals as corporate lawyer. If you do want to study law, I would start thinking about what you’d do afterwards early and think beyond simply being a lawyer.

What other career directions could you go in?
The law is hugely varied and most people will end up specialising in a few areas -criminal, family, property, wills and trusts, to name a few. You might start to think about that during your degree and in particualar, your traineeship. You can become an advocate ( who specialising in appearing in court) or a judge. Beyond the legal profression, law is an excellent degree to have to enter a buiness career or the civil service. The actor, Gerard Butler, was a trainee at the firm I work in, so you could end up in Hollywood!

What do you do for a living?
Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for the deaf/Team co-ordinator.

 

What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
No advice from school.The idea came from a friend who was a nurse and she had wanted to be a Speech and Language Therapist but hadn’t made the grades.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Obtained 4 highers. Applied to 3 universities to do the degree BSc in Speech Pathology and Therapy. Shadowed aSpeech and Language Therapist in her job. Wrote an essay on what I had found out about Speech Therapy and submitted it to the Universities. Had a day’s interview at the universities. Obtained a place. Did the an ordinary degree in 3 years,now 4 years with honours. Got a job straight after I qualified. Then specialised in deafness and did a 3 week course with an exam in London and did some signing qulifications in BSL and Paget Gorman signing. I did some management training over 2 weeks in my job and I do regular CPD and keep an on line diary to keep my HPC and to stay a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Talk us through a day in your life.
Check e-mails and keep my computer diary and paper diary up to date.Book in children/patients.Phone parents and schools to bookrooms.Travel to various schools and Health Centres, assess and treat children with language and speech delay/disorder using various assessments.Children might have a communication difficulty or have a disabilty- downs syndrome,autism,deafness,cleft lip and palate. Liaise and demonstrate with the parents and school staff on how they should carry out the treatment over the intervening week before you see the child/patient again.Write up assessments and treatment notes for each patient and write reports. Prepare treatment e.g. make up programmes. Attend review meetings with other professionals about certain children that you work with, give advice about the children’s communication.Attend staff meetings and senior staff meetings and help make up policy documents, carry out staff appraisals and do statistics.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes

What did your parents want you to do?
Didn’t mind,gave me no direction.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
They must be good at English and Biology at Higher level. They need to be good communicators and be confident and outgoing.

What other career directions could you go in?
None it is quite a narrow field.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a network diagnostic technician for the telephony network.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I was always very practical and had an interest in electrical things. There wasn’t a lot of advice from school at the time so I researched different types of work in my general field of interest and asked a lot of questions of people I found who I thought would be of help. My parents helped me with this at the time.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I didn’t really want to go to university so I chose to take up an apprenticeship instead and learn the job by doing it. However, I was expected to get more specific qualifications in the field and I gained my HND in electrical and electronic engineering by going to day-release college courses and night school classes.

Talk us through a day in your life
Due to the nature of the network I help to maintain there is always a need for my colleagues and I to be available 24/7. We have the opportunity to do differing shift patterns but I choose to cover the day shift as this suits my personal life. I have an earlier start than most but I’m finished by 4pm. My work is office based and I ‘drive my computer’ during this time. The entire telephony network is electronically monitored for incidents and major customer faults. When a problem arises I diagnose the problem and fix it remotely if possible. If I’m not able to do this I arrange for site engineers to attend with instructions on what they need to do to repair the fault. I also provide them with phone back-up advise and instruction should they need any help.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Yes and no. I knew I wanted to be an engineer but wasn’t fully committed to a very specific path. That became clearer as I continued to work through my apprenticeship.

What did your parents want you to do?
They wanted me to be content and happy in my working life and have enough money to do the other things I loved to do! Both of which I’ve managed to do over the years.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
The industry I work in is much more diverse than when I started in it. The telecommunications industry has a major part to play in almost all parts of modern life (mobile phone, the internet, TV, etc). There are so many different paths to chose. Pick subjects which would give you a good potential grounding, like maths, physics, computing and so on.

What other career directions could you go in?
I’m lucky to work with a large company who cover most aspects of the telecommunications engineering business. I would be free to apply for many different posts in many different parts of the business all without having to leave the same company.

What do you do for a living?

 

Tennis coach

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I started playing tennis when I was in Primary 4, competed all through my childhood with a local club and for county and continue to play today. There was lots of advice available through the LTA website and also the head coaches at Craiglockhart tennis centre helped me a lot. The website has all the information on how to become a coach and develop yourself as a coach.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I left school with 7 Highers and one Advanced Higher (including PE and Biology) which allowed me to attend Edinburgh University and do my undergraduate degree in Applied sports science.
After this is went on to start a Masters Degree in Sports Performance Enhancement but while here decided I wanted to get back into tennis and start coaching. So I quit the course after a couple of weeks (couldn’t be doing with writing more essays!) and contacted Craiglockhart and the coaches I knew from when I trained there as a junior. They put me in the right direction and I did my level 1, 2, and 3 coach qualifications. While on my level 2 course I met my now business partner and we decided to start up a coaching business in the Borders. Now I coach classes to a variety of players in Tweeddale (from 5 years to adults, and from beginer to district level).

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

Coach a ladies improver class from 9.30 to 11am (must be one of the best ladies classes I have ever coached, soon to be professional!). May coach a private lesson after this. Then start coaching again at 3.45pm and finish at 8pm (these are junior classes for players aged 5 to 16 years). I coach at different outdoor clubs in Tweeddale, also do some schools coaching, and coach indoors at Craiglockhart.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I wanted to go to university and do applied sports science……then have a job in sport! I didn’t realise when I was 18 that I could have a career as a tennis coach.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Mum and dad were great! They never pressured me towards any career but think they always imagined I would do something in sport…..possibly become a PE teacher.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Get as much experience as you can coaching or assisting a tennis coach. You do not need a degree to become a tennis coach however I strongly believe that a sports based degree gives you an in depth understanding of the subject and helps you focus your coaching (I am quite techincal as I did a lot of biomechanics at university…..some people may have a greater interest in sports psychology, nutrition, or physiology).

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

Potentially could go back to university and do a 1 year course to become a teacher. Could also look into a sports science job – research or hands on.

What do you do for a living?
I am a self-employed textile conservator, dealing with the care and preservation of historic textiles for museums, organisations such as the National Trust, and private individuals. I also undertake short contracts for organisations such as the National Museums of Scotland, when they have particular projects ongoing that require additional assistance.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I found out about this career option when at school doing a needlework O-level. However, I went to a very academic school and needlework was discouraged – they wanted to produce scientists! – so there was literally no advice available about this career. I found out that the only training available at that time was a post-graduate qualification so I did as I was told and concentrated on the sciences to get a degree, intending to go back to conservation once I graduated.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I have a very science-based education, with A-levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. I then went on to do a degree in physics at Warwick University and, on graduation, was offered a job as a broker with UBS in the City of London. I sort of ‘forgot’ about the conservation and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated (though I’d worked out I didn’t want to be a physicist!) so I’d applied for all sorts of jobs and, to be honest, the broker’s job paid a lot more than the others I was offered, so I took it! Mistake – I could do the job OK, but I didn’t like the pressured atmosphere and the constant need to be cold-calling possible clients – I felt I might just as well be selling double glazing, but with much more pressure! After about two and a half years, I left and went into conference management – again, quickly obvious it was not for me, but I’m glad I did it as it enabled me to travel and work in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Australia. Finally, at the grand old age of 26, I went back to the conservation option, applied for the post-graduate course and was accepted. It was a 3-year, full-time, post-graduate diploma course and had to be entirely self funded so I managed to obtain a bursary for the fees and several small grants from charitable trusts (lots and lots of letter writing!) for living expenses, but I also had to work through all the holidays plus a shelf-stacking job at M&S in the early mornings, before college, to make ends meet.

The training course was brilliant, recognised the world over as the only way into textile conservation and, when I did it, it was based at Hampton Court Palace – so every morning I walked up the drive to ‘the office’, not quite believing I was there! The curriculum covered all the appropriate treatment methods – including sewing – as well as the chemistry required to understand degradations processes and possible reactions to treatments. History and context of textiles were also studied as you need to know how and where an object was produced in order to understand how it was likely to have been made. All of this could impact on the suitability of various treatments.

Continuing Professional Development is now an essential part of being a conservator. Generally, it is a self-regulated profession with ICON (the Institute of Conservation) overseeing standards via the accreditation process. This involves submitting a portfolio of work and having an interview with assessors (the great and good of conservation) to prove that your methods are well thought out, carefully executed and appropriate. This is an on-going process, with reviews every 3 – 5 years, and being accredited has a huge impact on the amount of work you can do as many organisations and institutions are only able to commission conservation work from accredited conservators.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
If it’s a workshop day, I might be working on an object in my workshop at home, undertaking a treatment that has been discussed and agreed with the client. Typically, objects would be relatively small in size – embroidered samplers, a chair, items of costume, flags or banners. Treatments are as non-interventive as possible as we’re aiming to preserve what is there rather than restore an object to its previous glory (restoration is a different career!), and we also aim to make any treatment reversible as a better way of doing it may be found 5 years down the line. Everything has to be photographed and fully documented, so that future conservators can easily identify what is original and what I have done/added. I also may be preparing estimates – I have to examine an object, propose a treatment, then break down how long that will take and what materials will be required, cost the materials and finally sum it all up with a price for which I would be prepared to undertake the work. Some of the larger organisations put work out to tender, so there is a constant pressure to do the work as cheaply as possible.

If it’s an ‘in-situ’ day, I could be visiting clients at a museum, church or stately home and working on the object where it is. This often happens if an object is too large to move, or requires such a small treatment that it isn’t financially sensible to get it back to the workshop. It can mean working in difficult situations and conditions, such as standing all day in a freezing cold, stately home trying to stop my hands being too numb to stitch a giant curtain, or up a ladder while the visiting public pass by below and enquire what you’re doing. I’ve worked crammed into the very small space in the footwell of a carriage, and I’ve climbed up the scaffolding supporting the giant tapestry at Coventry Cathedral. I’ve been very lucky to visit parts of these places not generally open to the public.

If it’s a museum contract day, I will be working at the NMS Conservation Centre at Granton in their workshops. Recent projects have included the re-display of the Royal Museum, where I was responsible for the textiles in the Ivy Wu Gallery (lots of kimono!) and, some years back, the military museum at Edinburgh Castle (where there is an amazing ‘camp bed in a trunk’ which some poor soldiers had to carry around so that their officer could sleep in comfort while on campaigns!).

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
No, but I was aware of it as a possibility. As the only training course in textile conservation in the country (and the world!) was a post-graduate course, I knew I had to get a degree and physics was my natural subject – then I just got distracted into other, glamorous-sounding jobs before I realised conservation was what I really wanted to do.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
No pressure in any direction, but I think they always knew I’d end up working with textiles, despite the circuitous route!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Check out the various options with ICON – www.icon.org.uk – which should lead you to the appropriate training. Each specialism (textiles, paper, paintings, sculpture, furniture etc) has a very specific training, although there are some courses that address conservation more generally, with the possibility of specialising later on. The place to study textiles is the Centre for Textile Conservation, now based at Glasgow University. There is no substitute for practical experience so try and do some voluntary work with a museum or other heritage organisation (or even a paid job if you can!). Training courses in this area have a huge number of applicants so any indication of commitment is very valuable. And I must say that it is unlikely you will ever get rich – generally, conservators and curators are considered to do the job because they love it and salaries are not high.

In terms of subjects to study at school/degree level, sciences have proved invaluable to me. A degree in physics made me stand out from other candidates when applying for the training course and I am quite sure this helped me get a place. This background has also given me a different, more analytical approach to problems to my colleagues (almost all textile conservators have an arts/history background) and this means I can work really well with others, covering all the bases between us.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could have chosen to work for a museum as a conservator – usually a wide variety of objects, but much more workshop based, and under pressure of time from curators/exhibition managers. Many of the larger organisations have a departmental career structure, which enables a conservator to rise at least as high as a departmental head – although this would usually entail doing so much admin that you become distanced from practical work. Conservators can also become consultants to the heritage industry, working closely with exhibition designers (to try and reconcile what the designer wants with what is possible!). However, for me it is a love of the objects that keeps me in practical conservation, and the ability to be my own boss that keeps me self-employed.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
I love it! I feel really lucky to be able to work with so many beautiful objects and visit such lovely places (though you do sometimes find yourself doing condition surveys of 1920s underwear that may not be too clean, or dealing with curtains that are suffering from the attentions of dogs peeing on them!). I’ve worked on mummy wrappings, archaeological fragments, a Partick Thistle flag from the club in the 1990s, a shoe reputed to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, couture costume and military memorabilia – it is very varied,and never gets boring.

What do you do for a living?

 

I have three jobs at the moment. I am a Training and Development Consultant working mainly within the Financial Services sector. I am a Crew Manager in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (retained) and I run my own Antique and Curios Shop.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I started out in Financial Services purely by chance. When I left the Royal Air Force I had no idea what I was going to do and a friend said I would be good at selling and got me a job as a Financial Adviser. It sounded like good fun and the money was very good, so I thought why not! I found out I was very good at it and was asked to train other people and pass on my skills, which got me into training and development. I found out very quickly that I really enjoyed training people and for some reason I seemed to be very good at it.

There was no advice for this, as with most of my life I look at the opportunity and see if I can make it work and go for it. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.

I joined the retained Fire Service because it sounded good fun and I had a fear of heights and enclosed spaces so I thought this was a good way to overcome these fears. I had never thought about being a firefighter till I saw the advert, but the adrenaline rush is hard to explain. Again there was no advice but I started this when I was 30 so I probably didn’t look for any!

I started my own antique shop because I like antiques and history and my dad used to do it as a hobby. When he died he left a lot of stuff so rather than sell it at auction I started a shop to see if I could make it work and it turns out I can. The only advice I had was not to do it, or only people with years of experience can do that. Bring it on I thought and so far so good!

Q What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

Pure trial and error. I left Peebles High School with 2 Higher grades, went on to college and got another 3 Highers ( I wasn’t allowed back for 6 year. I don’t think the Rector liked me). I then tried a University Degree in Social and Management Sciences at Napier but to be honest I spent more time in the Union playing pool and drinking so that came to quick end after 1 year. I then started another course in Film and Photography and even made it to Rome film school. But again I found the course a bit dull and gave up.

I became a barman and DJ in Edinburgh for a few years as well as working on building sites. My girlfriend (now my wife) was not impressed with my career choice at this point. I then saw an advert in the paper saying photographers wanted. Having done half a course in this I thought I was more than qualified so I went along to the address and it turned out to be the Royal Air Force!!! So in order to impress her with my maturity and commitment I joined the Royal Air Force. Nobody I knew thought I would even get in let alone make it through training. I did however and had a great job in the Intelligence world mainly photographic but lots of other sneaky beaky stuff. This was the making of me, it helped me mature and find out what I was capable of and what I could do with a bit of discipline. It’s not for everyone but I loved every bit of it.

After 3 years I decided they weren’t going to let me be the boss so I thought I would move onto something else and thats when I ended up in Financial Services and moving back to West Linton, (something that I had promised myself as a teenager I would never do!!! Ha)

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?

As you can imagine my life with 3 jobs can be very busy, no day is the same. On one particular day all three of my jobs were involved which is not uncommon. It went like this:

0200 in the morning when I am called to fire at a large agricultural shed. I spend 2 hours up to my knees in mud trying to pump water up to the fire. I get back to the station at 0400 to sort out all the gear and remember that I have a flight at 0700 to London for a financial services business meeting at 1030. I get home, shower and change and jump in my car for a mad dash to Edinburgh Airport. I attend my meeting where everybody thinks I have been out partying all night as I look rather rough and tired. I then have a mad dash across London with some antique watches to sell to a dealer I work with in London. I finish with a fine dinner in London with friends and nice bottle of wine, thinking who else has a day like mine!

Financial services is very fast paced and exciting environment which is both challenging and rewarding on many levels but most days are about helping people fix problems.
The Fire Service is different every time we go out the station but it normally involves physical hard work, lots of lateral thinking around problems and incredible team work.
The antique shop is all about spotting opportunities, taking calculated risks and more often than not hoping for the best.

Was it your planned career at 18?

No way! At 18 I was going to be a film director and was going to change the world with my amazing vision and talent!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

Stay out of jail! That is no joke! I think my mum would have liked me to be a minister and my dad just wanted to get rid of me as a financial burden so any job would have suited him! My elder sisters were very academic and stable in what they wanted to do so I was a bit of a worry. I think my parents worried that they would be stuck with me for ever, little did they know that living with them was my worst nightmare and I would have joined the foreign legion to get out the house. However Napier university seemed like an easier option!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Have a bash if it doesn’t suit you, try something else and if that doesn’t work try something else and if you keep doing that till your 70 at least you can say you have lived.

What other directions could you go in/ work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

Who knows, tomorrow I might decide to become an astronaut! I have used my training skills to work with young people and young offenders and if you learn how to sell you can sell anything anywhere/

I remember someone telling me a story (made up I think, but it sounds good anyway). He said that a famous writer was booked to give a lecture at Cambridge University on how to become a writer and to pass on his advice and words of wisdom to students. He had an audience of 300+ wannabe writers waiting for his words of wisdom. He stood up and said ‘Hands up who wants to be a writer?’ which everyone did. He then said ‘Then go home and write!’ and he walked out the door. Sometimes life is that simple, everything we need is there in front of us, we just need to take the first step.

In the case of brain surgery I like my surgeon to be qualified and trained but other paths in life just require the courage to have a go!

What do you do for a living?
University Lecturer…currently in charge of the Creative Industries Academy for Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

 

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
Started teaching on a part-time basis when my first child was born. Chose it because interesting and flexible role.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Studied modern languages at university and then a postgraduate in marketing after my first degree. I’ve carried on with CPD over the years and also acquired a postgraduate teaching qualification in 2001.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
In my new role liaising a lot with Edinburgh College (our partner in the Creative Industries Academy). Visiting schools to give presentations and interview pupils and meeting with potential work experience employers.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Always considered teaching as a possibility but had hoped to enter the diplomatic service or be a librarian!

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Definitely teaching.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Worth pursuing as a very interesting and rewarding role.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I could go back to working in the field i.e. marketing/PR practitioner role.

What do you do for a living?
University lecturer in Computer Science

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
A little computing at school, followed by exposure to computer programming at University made me decide to switch from my initial choice of subject (chemical engineering) to computing. I became interested in lecturing as a career after doing at PhD in Computer Science and enjoying the experience of teaching students.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Took maths, physics and chemistry at A level; chose a chemical engineering degree based on my interest in chemistry; switched to computer science; did a PhD in Computer science, followed by post-doctoral research work. Appointed to a senior lecturership at Strathclyde in 2004.

Talk us through a day in your life
It varies a lot depending on the time of year! Typically during the teaching term I would give one or maybe two lectures and/or tutorials; I’d attend practical lab sessions and try to help students with their work; I’d see my PhD students and give them advice on their research projects; I’d review some research papers that have been submitted to conferences or journals and try to see if the work is worthy of being published; I review teaching work for other universities as their external examiner; I set exams; sometimes I give research talks at other universities on the research work I do. During the summer I do more research work and might try to prepare grant proposals, do my own research or write papers. I will also prepare lectures and other new materials for the coming year.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No.

What did your parents want you to do?
My parents gave me no advice towards my choice of career. My dad was a foreman at Beckton gas works in East London and my mum was a housewife.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Computing is a very exciting subject and I would recommend that everyone should try it and build up the analytical and logical skills required to program computers.

What other career directions could you go in?
Working for a company, I could be a programmer, a project manager or a systems analyst. I’ve worked in higher education for all of my career, which I have found very satisfying.

What do you do for a living?
A senior lecturer in Electrical Engineering at The University of Edinburgh.

 

How did you get interested in what you do?
I started out at school being interested in Computing, with a bit of Electronics, so took this at University. I realised I really enjoyed the electronics so continued it on to a PhD. At that point I recognised that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and research, so continued on to a lecturing career. In other words, it wasn’t planned in advance…

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Undergraduate at University, followed by a PhD at University. Then a short period as a post-doctoral researcher before taking up an academic role

Talk us through a day in your life.
As the deputy director of teaching, with responsibility for student recruitment and admissions for Engineering, and also the academic representative on a University wide project, my days are highly varied. Over the course of a year, where focus changes from one activity to another depending upon the time of year, I would be: monitoring, planning and taking part in student recruitment activities; meeting with my research and project students to discuss the work they are doing; preparing and/or delivering lectures/tutorials/laboratories/workshops; presenting papers at international workshops; meeting with partner Universities (for example a recent trip to China); advising on project progress; preparing applications for funding; and occasionally interviewing applicants. for employment.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
No.

What did your parents want you to do?
They were very supportive to let me do what I was interested in doing.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Look to see how to get the best training, with as broad an experience as possible. Engineering is not a field where work is done in isolation, so having an appreciation of other areas is very important. I’d also recommend working hard at Mathematics and Physics/Chemistry as these are the most relevant school subjects for the academic material.

What other career directions could you go in?
I could have gone into Industry, or business. Others in my field have gone into finance. Essentially, an Engineering training is a good basis for any job requiring project management, or analytical skills, particularly those requiring good numeracy.

What do you do for a living?
Veterinary Surgeon, currently working as a senior lecturer at Edinburgh Vet School

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I decided that I wanted to be a vet when I was 7 ( just after I decided that being a zoo keeper wasn’t such a good idea) From then on all everybody asked me was “what are you going to do when you don’t get in to vet school?”- so I became determined to show them that I could get in and didn’t really give any further thought to whether it was what I wanted to do.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I enjoyed and did well at maths and science at school, I chose Maths, Biology and Chemistry at A level and needed to get at least AAB to get into vet school ( the requirement is now AAA at A level, AAABB at higher+ Advanced higher in science/maths)

It’ a 5 year degree course. You are expected to complete 38 weeks of work experience on farms and in vet practices during your holiday times. The course is very intensive and compared to other degrees (other than medicine) you have more lectures and exams throughout the course. You graduate with expertise to work with any species. Work availability for practicing vets is around 85% small animal, 10% equine, 4% farm 1% other. Most new graduates start working in practice, but many other job opportunities are available as you progress through your career e.g. research, industry, government

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
For 16 years of my career I worked as a practicing small animal vet. Typical day starts at 8.30 am and finishes around 7pm. Sometimes there was time to break during the day, but not always. It’s a very rewarding job if you enjoy working with people, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who just wants to work with animals. During the day you may spend 4-5 hours consulting seeing 4-6 clients per hour dealing with a wide range of issues from puppy vaccination, to seriously ill elderly patients. Often 3-4 hours would be spent in surgery, anaesthetising patients and performing both routine procedures (castrations, spays, dentals etc.) and more complicated surgery and investigations( lump removals, fracture repairs, radiography etc.)

The rest of the time is spent caring for inpatients, dealing with client queries, researching and planning treatments.

For 11 years I ran my own surgery so had control over my working environment and the conditions for my staff which was very satisfying and financially rewarding. It was a very demanding job and once I started a family I found that it was very difficult to be the parent that I wanted to be as well as run a veterinary practice.

I sold my surgery and now work at the University training undergraduate vets. My time is divided between teaching, student support and research. The hours are much shorter ( 35 hour week) but the job remains very rewarding.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Not lecturing – I thought I would stay working in practice for my whole career.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
No- they wanted me to be a doctor- I’m glad I chose what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
If you want to be a Vet make sure that you enjoy working with people as well as animals. Unless you run your own practice salaries are low compared to other similar professions (less than half that of doctors/dentists/lawyers)

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Research, pharmaceutical industry, government work