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The Highlands - An unexpected learning journey
20/08/18

This is a story about how my life was about to change unexpectedly - it would never be the same again...

I grew up in Athens, a city with a population of 5 million - the capital of Greece. In 2016, I moved to a much colder (but warm at heart!) Glasgow to study for my Masters’ degree in Entrepreneurship, at Strathclyde University. ‘Big city life’ had always been my mindset; Glasgow and Athens were large enough to give me everything I needed in terms of education and career. If I’m honest, it was hard to see my future evolving anywhere else!

After I graduated from Strathclyde, I received a job offer with the support of the Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) ScotGrad scheme. It was exactly what I was looking for. The only condition? I had to move to Inverness in the Highlands, a stone’s throw from Loch Ness and what might lie beneath. Being at the beginning of my career I didn’t think twice about the opportunity, so I accepted the offer, packed my bags (and thermals) and ventured north.

Inverness being a small city, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I was very pleasantly surprised! When I arrived at this beautiful city, I was really amazed by my new place of work, the Centre for Health Science. It has a very modern infrastructure and collaborative style. Start-ups, laboratories and University departments - they ALL work under the same roof.

My job is ‘Marketing Coordinator’ for MIME Technologies. This is very much a real job, and not just a ‘project’ written for a graduate. I have faced many challenges so far, but all of them have pushed me forwards in my learning process, which was exactly what I was looking for. The constant support from HIE and my mentors at MIME Technologies helped me to improve my skills. I think one of the best things has been access to local training opportunities. For example, I attended seminars and courses about digital marketing and PR activity. They are also more personalised and with smaller numbers, enhancing the learning experience.

Another thing that surprised me was how the ScotGrad scheme works. I thought that being employed under this scheme automatically made me just another ‘number’. I was wrong. The ScotGrad admin team and mentors know all graduates personally. They have been in touch with me – as well as with my employer – regularly reviewing progress and our welfare. Their main focus is our constant development, so they actively encourage all graduates to attend additional training to improve their skills.

As part of my learning I participated in a three-day business training course in Cromarty, a tiny village by the water on the north east coast. Everything – accommodation, food – was arranged by ScotGrad, giving us the head space to learn. The tutors focused on developing our business skills, covering a wide variety of themes; sales, customer relationships, business strategy etc. However, the ScotGrad scheme also prioritises personal development. For example, we were encouraged to explore our personality. Online tests and real-time ‘games’ made us question “who am I?”. I think we all left Cromarty with more knowledge about our strengths and weaknesses. On the final day I was lucky enough to win the award for ‘best presentation’, although all the graduates’ presentations were amazing. You could see how everyone had used what they had been taught.

I have now spent almost a year in Inverness with MIME Technologies, and to sum up, “never say never”. Be ready to be surprised by life! I was wrong about life and work in the capital of the Highlands – I have improved my knowledge in so many aspects of Marketing and I really enjoy my life in Inverness. ScotGrad is without doubt a highly-credible Graduate scheme. I would totally recommend it!

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