Monday, 12 November 2018

What it Takes to Become an MSP

MSP Kate Forbes has been the representative for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016. She has contributed to many campaigns since her election, such as the ban of plastic straws, the promotion of teaching Gaelic, and closing the gender pay gap in the Highlands to name a few.

I spent an afternoon in the Houses of Parliament in Edinburgh speaking to Kate about what it takes to become an MSP.

      1. Which degree/qualification do parliament look for a candidate to have?

The whole point of being an MSP is that you are a representative of the people, and that means there should be a diverse range of MSPs in every sense of the word, including their educational qualifications. Therefore, there's there no set path in becoming an MSP in terms of education. There are so many varied routes and everyone has a different one. 

      2. What makes an exceptional MSP?

There are 3 key points - and all 3 are not skills you will ever learn through education. The first is being an MP for people. People are talking at, to and through MSPs every minute of the day so you must have a love for people or you'd go mad! It is constant interaction, so you must have empathy. Secondly, an ability to communicate. It's all fine and well if you're doing amazing things, but if you can't tell anyone about it then nobody knows about it. the bread and butter of being a politician is speeches and debates so this is obviously a key skill. And thirdly, being able to multitask. This is in terms of being able to pick up a variety of issues quickly to a high standard so you're able to talk to people about it in a sufficient way. 

      3. What impact do graduates/young people have? 

Everyone can have an impact if they get involved. As much as MSPs can encourage young people to have their say and make them feel welcomed, it's really up to them at the end of the day to participate - to join parties and campaign. And once you've got involved, you have the same say as everyone else, despite age or time or experience in the job. 

      4. What do graduates/young people find most challenging?

Probably one of two things. Firstly, it is the fact they may not feel welcome. On a daily basis someone could come up to you and say "you look awfully young". You can take that to heart or you can move on. Secondly, there are plenty of people with a lot more experience that we need to respect and learn from and it's not a factor of coming in and feeling you have a right to be there and share their views, as everyone else has got to the same place and you may end up drowning everyone else out.

      5. Why should someone become an MSP?

It is probably the only job in Scotland that blends the fence of public duty and desire to serve people, with the variety of subject matters and also can be done in every corner of the country. there are likely jobs that share the first two characteristics but you cannot necessarily do all over Scotland. Being an MSP means you can work everywhere and anywhere. It is a widespread role both geographically and in terms of subject matter. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Crafting your Future Career with Brewdog

Brewdog was founded in 2007 and since then they have become a market leader in cutting-edge beer, restaurants, and bars. They are renowned for their chilled out and community focused culture.

I spent an afternoon at DogTap, their distillery in Ellon, speaking to people of various roles in the business - Head of Distillation Stephen Kersley, 'The Job Whisperer' Nicolle Sinclair, 'Brewcruiter' Alex Mair, 'The Helmsman' Mark Dalgarno, and Recruitment Resourcer Bex Hislop. Here's what Brewdog had to say...

     1. Which degrees/qualifications do you look for candidates to have?

Brewdog don't offer graduate schemes, however, they welcome candidates from many different backgrounds if they fit the job description and company culture. There is a huge emphasis on there being no set path to end up working with Brewdog. If it's brewing and distilling you're interested in then a degree in chemistry or engineering points you in the right direction. Heriot-Watt offer a Brewing and Distilling BSc and there are various other qualifications you can attain which are very tailored to the skills required for a job at DogTap. 

However, the main focus is on passion points and to have a love for the process. If you're innovative, creative, and experimental and love brewing you own beer at home, you'd fit in with the team - Stephen, Head of Distillation, summed it up as requiring a "relentlessly curious" personality and drive.

     2. What makes an exceptional employee?

Someone who is exposed to the Brewdog way - they know the language, they have a passion for the brand, and they have a willingness and aptitude to learn. If they have a degree and experience in the field, then great! But if they are proactive, self-driven and have great social skills then they will stand out. It's these extras on top of a degree that make a person a great employee, said Nicolle, Global Head of Talent.

     3. What impact do graduates have on your business?

They have a huge positive influence as they aren't pigeon holed in the business. Employees are given their own PDP and use this to their benefit as they can set their targets for the next job role they want, and move there at their own pace. 

The local outreach programme that Brewdog undertake in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire (Ellon Academy, RGU, Aberdeen University, etc) gives back to the community but also allows Brewdog to attain the insight of fresh minds and innovative young thinking.

     4. Which elements do graduates find most challenging?

The business is always modernising and changing, so it's sometimes hard for new recruits to keep up. Brewdog doesn't have the "it's not broken, so why fix it" mentality. They don't play safe and always strive to innovate and change the way the business works for the better. There's also a high expectancy to perform, with a "have your shit together" mindset, says Mark.

     5. Why should a candidate chose your business as their grad job?

Recruiter, Bex, had a very personalised path as she began at Brewdog part-time whilst completing her schooling at Ellon Academy. She says that the Brewdog culture is so unique and inspiring - it's a "Monday is the best day of the week" type employer and they offer many great benefits for their employees. Alex, who is also a recruiter, says that the company is so mission-led and they are sincerely a good employer that the staff feel proud to work for. 

Find out more about Jobs at Brewdog here

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Oil and Gas Route

STATS Group is an engineering services business operating in the oil and gas industry. They are known for their excellent reputation for providing a responsive, client-centred approach to the industry. Their core values include team work, innovation, delivery and respect.

I spoke with CEO, Leigh Howarth, who gave an insight into what STATS look for when hiring graduates...

1) Which degrees/qualifications do you look for a candidate to have?

We recruit across many functions but the one function we do look for a degree in is engineering. In the oil and gas industry, and in our service offering of pipeline isolation and repairs, our clients look for a product and service that gives them confidence. A degree provides a baseline of confidence backed up with work experience which leads to competence.

By the very nature of our business and the markets we work in, there is a need to employ dynamic staff who are able to work well in small teams and on their own initiative. Fit is everything when working in small teams so although the degree is a must for an engineering role, the fit and the right attitude is what will make the difference for applicants wanting to work at STATS.

2) What makes an exceptional employee?

An exceptional employee of STATS Group is one who understands our culture, our clients culture and our client needs. They will “go the extra mile” to ensure our clients needs are met whilst maintaining the core values of our business (Teamwork, Delivery, Innovation, Respect). Someone with a “can do attitude” will go a long way in the business – recognising we are a service provider and that the safe, efficient delivery of our services is essential. An exceptional employee always challenges themselves to ensure they continually evolve in line with the demands of the role and the business.

3) What impact do graduates have within your business?

Graduates bring a fresh dynamic to our team here at STATS Group. Graduates are absorbed into teams and projects to be active participants in jobs from a very early stage in their career with the business. This steep learning curve encourages graduates to ask questions and challenge norms. This can only be good for the business and for the graduates as they are being exposed to things they might not normally see as a graduate. Whilst our graduates are expected to learn quickly, both the business and the graduate benefit.

4) Which elements do graduates find most challenging?

Being a fast paced business, getting up to pace with the technology and the pace of how things work here can be hard. If we have selected well though, we have the right people with the right attitudes and work ethic to fit into our teams quickly.

5) Why should a candidate chose your business as their grad job?

Graduates would enjoy working at STATS Group as they get a broad exposure to all parts of a job. From client kick off meetings to delivery and installation of our products, a graduate will be exposed to every element of the process. They won’t be sheltered, but mentored and supported throughout a project ensuring the learning process is accelerated. Our graduates tell us that this is the most rewarding part of their development, being involved all the way through the service delivery process.

Find out more about opportunities at STATS Group here

Friday, 12 October 2018

Do you have a future in Academia?

Head of Aberdeen Business School at RGU, Professor Elizabeth Gammie, talks about choosing academia as your potential graduate route.

       1) Which degrees/qualifications do you look a candidate to have?

We usually look for applicants to have a PhD or be in the process of writing up their PhD. The PhD topic is usually related to the area that they have applied to teach in. For example, if you have applied for a lecturing post in Entrepreneurship, then we would expect the PhD to be in Entrepreneurship. The subject matter for the first degree us less relevant. 

        2) What makes an exceptional employee?

Someone who is well rounded, can deliver well prepared material, and who the students relate to and enjoy their classes. Alongside publishing good quality research papers and attracting research funding. What really determines exceptional performance is someone who is a proactive employee, constantly striving to improve what they do and what the School does, who innovates and is creative in their thinking.

        3) What impact do graduates have within your business?

Staff are the lifeblood of a university and all employees have a significant role to play in delivering on both our teaching and academic commitments.

        4) Which elements do graduates find most challenging?

Probably standing up in front of a large class and keeping their attention. The first year is incredibly challenging as the preparation time for lecture material always takes much longer than expected.

        5) Why should a candidate chose academia as their grad career?

It is challenging but incredibly rewarding career. There are also lots of opportunities for career progression. Making a difference to young people's lives by inspiring and empowering them to reach their full potential is very gratifying. There is also lots of variety - no day is ever the same. It is very flexible in terms of workload with lots of opportunities to work at home and also travel. For example, this year I have been to Las Vegas, Kenya, New York, Mexico, and I am going to China soon! 

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Grad Jobs at The Data Lab

The Data Lab is a collaborative environment which enables industry, public sector and university researchers to innovate and develop new data science capabilities. They have Hubs in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh in which organisations of all types can build relationships through the shared working space.

Here's what Head of Business Development, Jude McCorry, had to say:

        1) Which degrees/qualifications do you look for a candidate to have?

This year we at The Data Lab have recruited grads for different roles across the business, such as data science, marketing, and communications.

For the technical data science positions we are looking for a mix of technical ability – data science or writing reports – and ‘soft’ skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. The Data Lab deals with both public and private sector, therefore, we hire for the persons attitude and then train for the required skills. Some of our employees have degrees, masters and PHDs but others do not. We are looking for the right people to fit into our culture.

2) What makes an exceptional employee?

An exceptional employee at our organisation is someone who lives our values and our culture. Every month we celebrate an employee who has been exceptional by living and breathing these values.

3) What impact do graduates have within your business?

The Data Lab is an innovation centre, and we expect innovation to come from the people within, we encourage flexibility with responsibility and we want employees to be accountable (find solutions, own it, and make it happen) this is with their own workload but also in a team environment.

4) Which elements do graduates find most challenging?

Probably the most challenging thing for graduates - particularly tech graduates - is the softer skills. While technical ability can be slowly gained through formal work experience or part-time jobs, the 'soft' skills are often forgotten and not really taught at University.
My advice to graduates is try and gain some of the softer skills during your education so you are an “all rounder” when you do come into the workplace.

5) Why should a candidate chose your business as their grad job?

All of the graduates who have worked with us say the benefits of working with us are:
Our openness to their ideas and new ways of doing things. Our non hierarchical way of working, means they can enjoy access to our network, interesting projects and people! We are very diverse and really want more women in Data Science and in the workplace. And finally, it's fun! We are a great team who work and play hard, and also look after each other! Grads are staying in touch and being part of The Data Lab family if and when they move on!

Find more information about Grad Jobs at The Data Lab here

Wednesday, 3 October 2018


Are you a student ready to graduate in the near future? If so, I'm sure you have thought about future prospects and graduate jobs. 

I want to discover the ins and outs of graduate recruitment in order to understand exactly what happens once we leave education. I hope to help my future self and anyone else that needs advice when it comes to applying for these opportunities.

In each blog post I will interview a different business on what they look for when recruiting graduates as well as asking about what their own graduate opportunities entail. I aim to approach companies from a wide range of industry sectors to gather as much information as possible. Each business will be asked the same 5 questions:

  1. Which degrees/qualifications do you look for a candidate to have?
  2. What makes an exceptional employee at your firm/what are standout qualities?
  3. What impact do graduates have within your business?
  4. Which elements do graduates find most challenging?
  5. Why should a candidate chose your business as their grad job?

Feel free to let me know through the comments section if there's a business you want to hear from!

What it Takes to Become an MSP

MSP Kate Forbes has been the representative for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016. She has contributed to many campaigns since her elec...