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11 thoughts on “Ex-Students”

  1. I am currently going into my 4th year of physiotherapy at Robert Gordon university. I have really enjoyed it so far, its a very practical course and I was working in hospitals as a physio from as soon as 1st year. It is important to realise that very little of physiotherapy is about sporting injuries – the majority of work is hospital based and more often than not working with the elderly. It is important to to be able to work as part of a team, be good at communicating and problem solving. Physiotherapy is a very rewarding profession and is very popular and competitive to get in. It is essential that you carry out work experience prior to applying as there are very few places and this shows the university that you have a good understanding of the profession. I worked in Leuchie House, and wrote to the main hospitls in Edinburgh to shadow physios for a few day. During my placements so far I have worked in amputees, womans health, outpatients, care of the elderly and there are many more including stroke, respiratory, paediatrics, oncology… Throughout the course there is only one placement that is arranged by you – your elective. I did mine in a golf clinic in Australia and had the best time of my life!! Unfortunately the job prospects for physio graduates at present are very poor however this has to change over the next few years so don’t let that put you off.

  2. Vicky
    Thanks for this.
    If you are an ex-pupil and would like to add your comments, please feel free to do so! These are very useful when advising the current S5 and 6 about careers and courses.

  3. After working as a Microbiologist for 13 years I decided to take a year out and travel Australia and Thailand. The year before I left I had started studying Conference and Event Management via open learning to determine if I would like to pursue this area upon my return. I decided that this area did interest me and started the HNC full time at Edinburgh’s Telford College last year. Having experienced studying at University level previously I was not sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. The class had a wide range of students – and I wasn’t the oldest! The college is nice and shiny new with lots of excellent facilities and the course was very practical which I think is particuarly beneficial in this area. We were able to work in groups to pull together an event – we held a charity art auction at Lulu gaining invaluable experience and raising 3,500 for Breast Cancer Research – so it was really worthwhile. Part of the reason I wanted to change direction was the fact I like working more directly with people. When I left my job I managed staff and thoroughly enjoyed this aspect and the interactions, I was however frustrated with the repetitiveness of science. Lab work can tend to be very routine and although I was interested initially I like to work on lots of different projects and have a variety of tasks. This was another reason for my change as the Events Industry can present this type of work. There was also the chance to gain further practical experience with a work placement – I managed to get a position at the Assembly Rooms and am still currently there part-time. After my HNC I looked through the summer for related jobs and did some speculative letters. The jobs I was particuarly interested in required a degree in a related field so I decided to apply to University. I have now started at Napier University doing Festival Management with Entrepreneurship. This initially seems much more intensive and challenging but if you are interested in an area this definately helps. There is more theoretical application instead of practical learning but I think both are useful and will hopefully increase my employability chances. There are lots of options at Napier to do this as a joint degree (or singly) so if there is a specific areas that interests you then you can tailor make your qualifications. Incidently if you do level 2 then there is a work placement at Uni too. This area is still expanding and offers a diverse range of employment. This is reflected in the fact that colleges and universities are offerering specific studies in this field that were previously not available.

  4. I currently work as an Applications Engineer, for a company called Wolfson MicroElectronics, in Edinburgh. We’re the company responsible for the audio chips inside things like the iPod, Xbox, PS3, Mobile phones, TomToms – that kind of thing. My job is to support all these well know companies on all things audio and power, to ensure the user – you – have the best quality sound and long battery life etc.
    I started my career as on a Trainee Engineer scheme with GEC-Marconi (now SELEX) in Edinburgh, where I worked 4 days a week, and they paid me to go to university one day a week. Yes I had the best of both worlds – the student life, and getting paid as well. I studied Electronics & Electrical Engineering at Napier on a part-time course (the one day a week bit), and at work I was trained on everything from LASERs and Gyroscopes to my specialist field of Power Management (converting electricity from one voltage to another). After 7 years with GEC, I moved to Raytheon Systems as a Senior Design Engineer, where I designed power and control systems for next generation military products. My friends and family thought it was great the fact I worked on Top Secret projects!
    As most engineering students focus in on Digital design, there is a growing need and lack of Analogue designers across the world. I was really lucky to have noticed this early in my career, and after 4 years with Raytheon I started to look to other non-military companies to see where my expertise could be used. Last year I moved here to Wolfson, who design seriously small audio chips to convert all those digital MP3s and CD info into the analogue music you hear through your speakers. One day I was working on a missile with Raytheon, the next working on an iPod! It’s amazing the number of ‘big name’ companies that operate in the central belt. Scotland is still a leader in technology, and there is an abundance of really good, very high paid jobs in the area – if you know where to look. I didn’t know what career I wanted to do when I left school, so I followed a job where the products and applications I found interesting – I fell into engineering because I wanted to know how things work amd in 12 years of working – I’ve never had two days even remotely the same. You’re going to be spending around 40 hours a week doing a job – you’re as well doing something you enjoy and get a kick out of.

    If you’re not sure about a company or exactly what to study – drop the company an e-mail, speak to your schools careers adviser, or someone who works in the industry – it’s amazing what you’ll find.

  5. I am currently in my second year as a trainee solicitor with a firm of solicitors in Edinburgh. When I left school I studied Law with French at Glasgow University. The course was hard work and very different from school but I enjoyed it. It was good to be learning something completely new that I’d never studied before. There’s not much choice about which subjects to study for the first couple of years and some parts of it can be a bit dull, but overall it’s a really interesting and stimulating subject to study.

    Because I studied French as well as law, I was able to spend my third year in Lyon in France, which was a fantastic experience. If you’re at all interested in languages I would definitely recommend studying a language, even if only as a small part of your degree, not only because it gives you a great chance to go off and have fun in another country but also because employers seem to be quite impressed by it. It’s also possible to spend some time studying abroad without a language, which I think is definitely worthwhile.

    When I started my degree I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a lawyer and I had never done any legal work experience, so I did a five-week summer placement in the summer after I came back from France. This gave me a great insight into what it was like to be a lawyer and convinced me to give it a go. If you’re interested in law then I would certainly recommend looking for some work experience to give you a better idea of what it involves.

    After I graduated from my degree, I did the Diploma in Legal Practice at the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. This covers much more practical skills like dealing with clients and appearing in court, and tries to prepare you for life as a lawyer. After that I started my traineeship in Edinburgh. To become a lawyer in Scotland, you have to do a two-year traineeship, which is usually with a private firm but can also be with places like the Procurator Fiscal service, the Scottish Government, local councils or law centres. I work in a big commercial law firm that does many different types of law, mostly acting for businesses. It is a really varied and interesting job and I’ve decided to stay on and work for this firm once I qualify, which I’m really looking forward to. If you enjoy working with people and like a challenge, then I would say law’s definitely worth considering.

  6. I left school at the end of S6 and went straight into employment with Her Majesty’s Royal Household with the hope of later becoming a Footman (Butler).

    For the past year I have been working within the Royal Collection Branch but also within the Master of The Households department. I have a wide range of duties, I work with the public for the majority of my time guarding items in the Royal Collection but also acting as the first line of security to the Royal Household. It is necessary to have great people, social and communication skills to carry out the job successfully. For the other part of my work life I polish silver, prepare rooms for evening events, carry out general maintenance and when a member of the Royal Family are in residence meet them from their vehicle and escort them and their luggage up to their private apartments. There is a very strong hierarchical structure within the Royal Household and you cannot take anything to heart. Sometimes people of a higher rank than you won’t acknowledge your presence. The Royal Household does not pay well but it is enough to get by, it is a privilege to work for HM The Queen and we are thanked every year with Christmas presents and on certain anniversaries a glass of champagne with luncheon. All meals are provided and some accommodation

  7. I left high school in 2006 at the end of 6th year and went straight from there to Aberdeen University where I am going into my 3rd year of studying music. It was daunting moving to a new city so far away from friends but I quickly adapted and have made so many new and very close friends. I’ve found that music is a completely different subjet to study than most others as the year group is so small so, although it sounds corney, we’re really just one big family. The music course doesn’t have that much lecture or tutorial time but it is a full time course as you really have to put in alot of work yourself, most of it practising and alot of research is needed. I admit I wasn’t prepared for the amount of practise I should have put in, but I have turned it around and its beginning to look better. University is a humbling experience. Even if you were top of your class, you can’t hold onto that title forever so you just need to step up the work effort to keep your standard of work as high as possible.
    However, university’s not 100% about academic achievments. There are so many groups and societies you can join, and it just makes the experience of uni even better. I can say this because I joined the uni’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society in my 1st year and have’nt looked back.

  8. I hope what I’ve written will be helpful to other students looking to do a dance career.

    I did mainly ballet when I was younger but it wasn’t until I was 16 when I considered looking into dancing as a career option for when I left school at the end of 6th year. There are soo many courses available nowadays that you are sure to find something that appeals to you. You can even audition for some that require no previous dance experience or you can do at any age.
    The course I decided on was at Telford college. This was an NC course which covers ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap and even choreography. This is a 1 year course where you get to experience all forms of dance and get assessed throughout the year. Its really good if you aren’t quite sure what style of dance you are really interested in or if its teaching, performing or even becoming a choreographer that you are interested in. It’s really good for dancers who want to have a year to improve their technique or decide exactly which way they’d like to take their dancing.
    After this course you have an opportunity to audition for two types of HND courses, Professional Stage Dance covers commercial dance, singing and acting. Dance Artist is more to do with teaching and choreography but both do the same amount of ballet, jazz and contemporary technique.

    Other places you might like to consider are Anniesland, they have only 3 hours of practical a week though and are more jazz orientated. If you are more interested in contemporary then there is a contemporary school in Dundee which has had very good reviews. Also you might even try Reid Kerr in Glasgow, I think they run courses for becoming a dance artist but have a look at their website. Most of the dance courses also have acting courses as well if this interests you.

    Some useful websites you might like to have a look at:


  9. Hi Mick

    thought I would bring retained firefighting to the attention of your readers. I currently work at North Berwick High School but a couple of years ago I applied to join as a retained firefighter at our local station. After interviews and intensive training I was delighted to join our local crew. I’ve now been a retained firefighter for about 18 months and love every minute of it. Every call out brings a new challenge from assisting in major incidents in Edinburgh to rescuing pigeons stuck in trees (yes really). I am learning new skills and challenging myself all the time. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, at 5′2” I’m not as strong as the guys but I am more ‘compact’ than them. We all work as a very effective team. Although I personally won’t move onto full time firefighting I know a lot of the crew have and been very successful with their careers.

    This may interest some of your readers and indeed their parents as it may well be a career that hadn’t been considered in the past

  10. Hi, i hope thsi will be of some help to anyone looking to attempt business at uni…

    I am currently at strathclyde uni doing international business just finished my 2nd year and so in aug will be heading into my 3rd…..the year marks start to count for something oh oh. I really didnt know what to expect from this course and in all honesty chose it as business came easily to me and i get the compulsory opportunity to study abroad for a year.

    So far the course has allowed me to identify aspects of business that i do not want to further as a career which i suppose is a benefit. Although i feel the course is not as practical as it could be i do enjoy it and at strathclyde you have the added benefit of Managemnt development programme (MDP) where you are thrown in to groups and given real business assignments and creative thinking exercises with constant presentations. This is what i feel, is what really goes on in business and MDP gives strathclyde students a major edge over others, and so far many older friends in the hunt for graduate jobs have benefited from having this on their cv, the course work reports doesnt prepare you for working in a team,compromise,leadership and presenting but MDP does.
    If you are an aspiring to open your own business…i would only suggest uni will be 4 years wasted life and business experience!
    I am due to go the america for my 3rd year, which will not only look good on my cv to future employers but it will give me life experience and a different outlook to business in a different economy, this is a benefit and edge that will not be gained from an average business course. Nowadays you need to find ways to seperate yourself from the crowd and i so far have found international business doing this for me.
    good luck

  11. I left school after S5 to take a gap year before university. I left a year early because I had the grades I needed and I wanted to spend the year doing something a bit different to school and I felt ready to leave. I juggled three jobs in order to save to go to India and work in an orphanage for four months. It was a very challenging year but definitely worthwhile as I met so many new people, gained new skills and had the opportunity to see a completely different part of the world.
    I’ve now accepted a place at Glasgow University to do a joint honours degree in English and Music which I am looking forward to.
    I would definitely reccomend a gap year to anyone as although it is a lot of hard work, I feel glad that I’ve experienced something else after school before going on to study again.

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