Hometown:  Falkirk, Scotland

 

About You

How did you come to choose the course and why QMU?

When applying to university I considered a range of courses from journalism and politics to English and history. Ultimately, my long term career goal was to enter the PR and communications industry. When I discovered the Public Relations course at QMU, I found a degree that provided professionally relevant teaching alongside practical tasks and work experience which I thought would best prepare myself for a role in PR. I also wanted to get more than just a degree out of my time at university, I wanted cultural experiences too, and so chose a course which provided the opportunity to study abroad. QMU was the only institution in Scotland which combined these aspects alongside the location of a world class city.

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?

I knew I wanted to stay in Scotland to study and preferred to stay relatively close to home in Falkirk. Combining the location and QMU’s strong course offering, Edinburgh became my ideal choice. The city provides year round cultural experiences, living up to its reputation as the Festival City, whilst also supporting a strong student culture with four universities based here – as a result it was never hard to find work, accommodation or something to do in Edinburgh.

Living Away from Home

Where did you live whilst studying? If you were living in halls what’s was the best part?

I lived in halls for my first year at university - this is where I met friends who I lived with for the rest of my time in Edinburgh. Staying in halls was a great way to meet new people and made it very easy to expand my social circle beyond those on my course. Being on campus made the commute to lectures very easy, although Edinburgh’s great transport links meant that living in the city centre for the remaining three years was also convenient.

Life in Edinburgh – what was the best experience you had in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?

I’ve met many students who rarely ventured out of Edinburgh’s city centre, sticking to the student staple areas of the Meadows, Bruntsfield and Newington. If you are looking to escape the waves of students, head to Leith. Our flat on the Water of Leith was just a few minutes walk away from the picturesque Shore area and conveniently close to Ocean Terminal. Hidden next to the government building on Victoria Quay, Teauchter’s Landing pub provides a bustling stop to grab a drink and dive in to some great pub grub served in a mug – all with a waterside view.

The Course

Did you attend an Open Day? If so was there any aspect of the University which made up your mind for you?

I recommend attending the Open Day as it provides an opportunity for you to experience how it will feel to study at QMU. Arriving by train, I was first struck at how easy it was to get to campus from the city centre. I was able to attend course specific talks which covered course content in depth and potential destinations for students after graduation. I was also comparing the facilities I’d be using for the four-year duration at QMU. Contrasting with other institutions, the campus is modern and boasts lots of different study areas – from computer desks in open spaces, to group and individual study rooms.

What was the most interesting part of the course? Either something you learned or a particular activity.

I found the group tasks the most interesting part of the course. Each year we have had the opportunity to work with live clients on a range of briefs and topics (from campaigning for Vitamin D prescriptions to tackling poor working conditions in Bangladesh). These tasks are challenging, but bring the theory to life in an exciting way which isn’t possible on other courses. These also provide great content for your CV and mean you are never stuck things to talk about in job interviews.

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Don’t just consider the coursework and content when choosing a course - think about the additional opportunities and experiences which the course can offer. This course has allowed me to work with live clients, undertake three internships and study abroad twice during my four years (once via a summer study programme and once as a QMU Exchange Semester in Australia). I also volunteered with the QMLink project during Freshers week which was a rewarding experience that demonstrated the real world use of communication and how it an influence public opinion and behaviour.

Did you work during the course?

Yes, I have worked throughout the four years in Edinburgh. My first job at uni was a temporary role in a Princes Street store, the nature of the city’s festival seasons means that temporary roles are often advertised – which is great if you are searching for work during semester breaks. After this, I moved to another retail position in Portobello, where I have worked part-time around my studies for almost three years. In addition to this, I have undertaken paid and unpaid internships at a national garden centre chain, water utility company, PR agency and a local travel company. This has taken me to all corners of Edinburgh, so I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know this fantastic city, whilst boosting my confidence and CV.

When applying to internships and study abroad schemes, I visited Colin in QMU’s career centre who really helped prepare for those tricky interview questions and fine tune my CV.

After Graduation

What are your plans for after graduation? Have you lined up a job or are you considering another option i.e. internship, voluntary work, travelling?

Immediately after completing my coursework, I started a Santander funded two-month internship at O’Leary PR. This was my first agency experience and allowed myself to get hands on working with exciting clients, I even found myself working as part of the press team for the Royal Highland Show.

Would you consider further study?

I have accepted a place at the University of Glasgow to undertake a postgraduate course in Public Policy and Management. The course at QMU underlined the wide range of roles a PR practitioner can take in the workplace, which was clearly demonstrated in the internships I have completed so far. I want to focus more on policy and political communication and hope that furthering my education will not only provide the knowledge but the additional opportunities to work in a policy focused PR environment. Whatever you decide to do after graduation, I think that the PR courses at QMU will give you a head-start in the workplace after four years of practical, hands on experience.

 

Story published 2016-2017