Emma Bathgate graduated from QMU in 2011 with a BA (Hons) Public Relations and Psychology. With a passion for creating websites and a love of Scotland's capital city, she is delighted to now be working in her dream job as Digital Marketing Manager at Marketing Edinburgh.
Emma tells us more about her life as a student at QMU and her career progression.
*Note the BA (Hons) Public Relations and Psychology is no longer offered at QMU, instead we offer a BA (Hons) in Public Relations and Marketing Communications in 2022/23
What attracted you to the course and why did you choose QMU?
I knew at the time that I wanted to get into media, and I really liked the range of courses QMU had available at the time, with the flexibility to mix my subjects. I started doing PR and Media, but once I recognised my interest in persuasive communication, I was able to make the transition to PR and Psychology pretty smoothly.
Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh?
Having grown up “just across the water” from Edinburgh, I knew it was an exciting and cosmopolitan city. During my teens I would regularly take day trips over the bridge and I couldn’t wait for the day that I could move over and live there myself.
Living Away from Home
What age were you when you came to QMU?
I took a year out after high school, so I was 19 when I started my studies at QMU.
Where did you live whilst studying?
I lived with my close friends in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh. Public transport was so cheap and easy, it was an absolute breeze to get to campus.
Life in Edinburgh – what was the best experience you had in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?
I loved living in Edinburgh - so much so that I now promote it for a living! There was always something on or lots of places to go and enjoy a pint. When the August festivals came to town there was always such an exciting buzz about the place, and you couldn’t help bumping into the odd celeb or two.
Did you attend an Open Day? If so, was there any aspect of the University, during that event, which helped you make up your mind that QMU was the place for you?
I attended an open day after I had submitted my initial application. The passion the lecturers had for their subjects was probably the biggest deciding factor in choosing QMU. The academic staff clearly had a lot of knowledge and expertise, and that is what convinced me to accept my offer.
What was the most interesting part of the course, in terms of something you learned or a particular activity?
My favourite part of the course was learning web design with Mark Gillham. It was very long ago and I can’t remember the technology we used, but it was then and there that I realised I wanted to work with websites for the rest of my life. The learning was very-hands on and I quickly learned the problem-solving skills that I still use to this day.
Did you get involved in any activities or learning experiences which you found particularly useful?
The fourth year placement was invaluable for applying what I had learned in the real world. I was placed at Dobbies where I worked in their ecommerce department and helped manage the content on their website.
We also had an on-campus networking event which gave me the opportunity to talk to real-life PR professionals and I used that opportunity to secure yet another placement at an Edinburgh PR firm.
Any advice for students who might be interested in your course area?
Enjoy the course and try to get as much real-life experience as you can. Attend networking events and gather contacts, because you never know when a chance conversation will turn into an exciting opportunity!
Tell us what happened immediately after you graduated and about your first job with the agency?
After I graduated I quickly secured a paid internship with a digital agency in Leith. Just a few weeks after I started, I was employed on a permanent contract. I was very grateful at such an early stage in my career to work for big brands such as British Airways, confused.com, Debenhams and Etihad.
Tell us how you got the job with Marketing Edinburgh?
Outside my day-job at the digital agency, I started to create and build websites for fun. One of these sites was a guide to Edinburgh, which also had its own social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. When the job opportunity at Marketing Edinburgh came up, I had to apply - I already promoted the city as a hobby! My enthusiasm for Edinburgh shone through at the interview and I was offered the job.
What does your role involve and what do you most love about your role?
My role mainly revolves around maintaining edinburgh.org, which is The Official Guide to Edinburgh. I also develop the strategy and help run This is Edinburgh social media channels, which now have over 435,000 followers. It is my dream job, because I get to promote the city I love to people around the world every day.
Of course, I am still building my own little websites in my spare time. My latest project is veganedinburgh.com, a guide to vegan restaurants and cafés in Edinburgh, which is proving quite popular at the moment!
In your role with Marketing Edinburgh, what have you learned about the city and its people?
For a relatively big city, the sense of community in Edinburgh is astounding. Everyone is so open and friendly, and there are lots of opportunities for collaboration. I have also learned never to take our beautiful city for granted: even though I have lived here now for over a decade, the view I get from North Bridge on my way to work every day never fails to take my breath away.
How do you stay connected with QMU?
I have made lifelong friends at QMU and still keep in touch with many of them. Sometimes I will bump into my fellow alumni at industry networking events!
Can you share any of your ambitions for the future?
Who knows? Maybe one day I will be heading up my own web design and content agency, but right now I can’t think of anywhere else that I would rather be.
"The passion the lecturers had for their subjects was probably the biggest deciding factor in choosing QMU. The academic staff clearly had a lot of knowledge and expertise, and that is what convinced me to accept my offer."
(Published February 2019)