Finding a subject, you are truly passionate about can take a long time and sometimes you have to try a different path before you find your ideal fit. 

That’s exactly the experience of 30-year-old Seonaid Heeps. After initially trying Psychology at QMU, she left to complete a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Media and Communications at Forth Valley College.  

With her HNC she returned to QMU as a direct entrant on the BA (Hons) Media and Communication course but later changed degree again, finally graduating in 2016 with a BA (Hons) PR and Media course.  

After securing her honours degree, Seonaid went on to work for Police Scotland and the Scottish Government. Now, she has a job she loves working as a social media account director at the prestigious Edinburgh-based integrated communications agency, Stripe Communications.  

Seonaid speaks to us about her unique journey through further and higher education, finding a degree she was passionate about, and how QMU helped her secure her dream role at Stripe Communications: 

What were you doing before coming to QMU?  

 After I finished school, I originally came to QMU to study psychology, but realised psychology wasn’t for me so I dropped out. I went to Forth Valley College to study an HNC Media and Communications which I really enjoyed. It was practical and hands on, and I got to try my hand at film production, radio production, writing for web and press.  

After completing the HNC, I did direct entry to the second year of the BA (Hons) Media and Communication course at QMU.  

After second year, I deferred for a year to undertake an internship in the communications department at Edinburgh College. In that role I worked on the College’s social media channels, its website, as well as on events and stories for press. This led to my decision to change my course again, and I returned to QMU to complete my final two years on the BA (Hons) PR and Media course. Not every learning journey is linear, and I am certainly an example of that. 

 Why did you choose to study at QMU? 

 I have always lived in Edinburgh and wanted to stay at home for university. The PR and Media course at QMU interested me because it was quite broad, covering lots of disciplines in media and communications. I wanted to explore the different areas to find my interest, so this course appealed to me more than other, very defined courses such as journalism or production. 

Why did you choose to study this course in particular? 

I switched to the BA (Hons) PR and Media course after getting a year’s work experience in the field. I was less interested in the film elements of the media course, and I knew that the practical elements covered in the PR course would allow me to further develop the skills I had learned during my internship.  

During my third and fourth year on the BA (Hons) PR and Media course, I had the opportunity to work on live client and dialogue projects, as well as studying the academic and theoretical elements of PR practice. 

How did you find the academic support? 

I found the lecturers to be very supportive, especially during my third and fourth years when I was involved in more projects and working on my final dissertation.  

During my fourth year, as I was working on data projects, I was able to access an appointment with an educational psychologist where I was diagnosed as having dyscalculia. The Effective Learning Service supported me with extra tuition and access to software to get through my data module. 

What did you enjoy most about your course? 

"The best part for me was the opportunity to work on live client projects. We worked in teams as mini agencies to respond to a campaign brief - from strategy and approach, to research, to creative ideation. It was a great way to apply theory and get some practical experience that could be used as examples in job applications and interviews."
Seonaid Heeps

I also really enjoyed the international PR and persuasive communications modules. 

What advice do you have for someone just entering the course? 

My advice would be to just get stuck in. Look for opportunities to get involved with extra projects, make connections with the staff, other students and any guest speakers that come in. Making a positive impression on your peers will always reap benefits down the line. Also, use the services that are in place to support you. Student support, the staff in the LRC and the lecturing staff are all there to support you to do well.  

Were you involved in any extra-curricular work at university? 

I got involved in a dialogue project that one of the lecturers was working on with a third sector organisation, conducting dialogue research with students around Scotland’s drinking culture and young people’s relationship with alcohol. It was really interesting and gave me a chance to put into practice some of the things we had been learning about in class. It also helped me to develop my relationship with that lecturer which has been useful.  

How did you start your position at Stripe Communications? 

After graduating, my first role was with a small charity where I was able to get really hands on with different aspects of digital marketing, communications and PR. I then spent four years in international marketing at the Scottish Government, leading the social media campaign for Scotland’s nation brand. I spent a year at Police Scotland, managing their social media channels, and then I decided to move into an agency role. I applied through LinkedIn. 

How are you finding your role? 

It’s fantastic. I’m working across a broad range of different clients which each have unique objectives and challenges. It’s really interesting to apply what I’ve learned over the years to help brands step up their social media marketing. The team is incredible as well and I can genuinely say I enjoy my job!