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Case Study: Anne

Personal details
Degree:Geography MA Hons Profile picture
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences
Year of Graduation:Jun-2007
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus
Job title: Student Recruitment Officer
Occupational Sector: Human Resources
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I realised that many of the skills from my Geography degree were relevant to careers in marketing. I also wanted to travel! I completed a marketing fast-track course in London, but decided agency marketing and the ‘hard-sell’ wasn’t for me. I decided marketing higher education would be more up my street. It uses similar skills but it’s also something I feel very passionate about and have experienced myself. I feel more comfortable with the ethos. I did a Student Recruitment Internship with the University of Edinburgh, then moved to a post at a newer university in England on a six-month contract, working on Widening Access to HE. This gave me great experience of the English system and recruitment of students from different backgrounds. I then moved to my current post and have been here for three years.
What does your job involve ?

My role covers undergraduate, postgraduate, local, regional and international student recruitment and advice, and brand awareness for the University of Glasgow’s Dumfries Campus. Responsibilities include:

  • Strategic development of marketing and recruitment plans for the campus
  • Developing publications and web material
  • Schools liaison (working with secondary schools across the UK)
  • International recruitment (in 2012 I travel to Kazakhstan, USA, Spain & Germany)
  • Working in partnership with many institutions across Scotland and further afield
  • Marketing our new research centre, the Solway Centre for Environment & Culture
  • Building on our study abroad and international exchange provision
  • Marketing our public events programme
  • Social networking for the campus – yes, I get to sit and play on Facebook and Twitter as part of my job!
What are the best bits of your job ?
  • The satisfaction of encouraging and advising students towards a degree or research programme, meeting them on campus when they arrive in September, and ultimately seeing them enjoy their degree, graduate and move into a successful career.
  • The international travel! It’s challenging but enables me to visit places I may never have gone under my own steam, for example Kazakhstan. Working in a country enables you to understand the culture a lot better than just travelling or going on holiday there.
  • Working in a constantly changing sector. I have been able to develop my role a lot since I started – no year is ever the same and the new opportunities are endless.
  • Working as part of a small friendly team at the Dumfries Campus, yet having the support, reward and opportunity afforded by a world-leading university in Glasgow
Why were you successful?
It was absolutely key that I understood how my skills and knowledge were relevant to the roles I wanted. Interpreting a job description, applying my transferable skills, and marketing myself accordingly were really important.

I was also realistic, willing to work my way up and not necessarily walk into the ideal post straight away – these things come with time and experience, and are a lot more secure and sustainable if that’s the case.

A lot of top graduates are automatically propelled towards the prominent graduate schemes. I took some time to look past their marketing material and think about whether this was really the best thing for me – I decided it wasn’t. I’m suited to my role because I have a genuine passion for higher education. I still work for a world-class organisation but in a unique job that I’m confident gives me flexibility, genuine opportunity, great personal development and the chance to work with some of the brightest minds on the planet
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
  • Presentation skills
  • Teamwork, particularly group research skills gained during the 3rd year field trip
  • Qualitative and quantitative data analysis and statistics
  • My dissertation was around the geography of education, working with focus groups of secondary school pupils
  • Topics we covered such as culture and identity are definitely useful
  • Tourism and authenticity are also important, as I market not just the university but Dumfries & Galloway as an education destination
  • Much of my knowledge about geography and SD as disciplines – a lot of the degree programmes for which I recruit are connected to environmental studies
  • Knowledge from my additional subjects in 1st and 2nd year. I studied management, languages (obviously handy for travel) and also philosophy, which taught me to structure a bombproof argument should the need arise!
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?

Student Recruitment is becoming a popular graduate career, as it requires generic transferable skills and a knowledge of the HE sector – something all good graduates have! So you need to stand out.

  • Get involved as a Student Ambassador during your time at St Andrews, and in large clubs and societies which require strategic, high level organisation
  • Get some marketing experience, ideally through a business/internship or other institution, in addition to marketing student events or societies
  • Develop business skills in writing for the web and effective use of social networks
  • Make sure you are a seamless, confident, experienced presenter to large audiences
  • Keep an eye out for Student Recruitment Internships – several universities offer them.
  • Look for administrative/temporary/support roles in Student Recruitment – these often provide a springboard to the outreach and marketing roles.
  • A driving licence, flexibility, willingness to travel and to work long, irregular hours are all absolutely essential.