Alumni advice: from your degree to your dream career

Alumni advice: from your degree to your dream career

Whether you are a new or well-established PGR at UofG, sure of your career path or keeping an open mind, it is always  fascinating to hear personal accounts from previous UofG students who have gone on to exciting and successful careers. The UofG Sound Tracks Podcast is one way to keep up with these inspiring people. UofG careers also holds events such as the Human Book Project, where students have the opportunity to meet with UofG alumni. Through this event, I met Annie Lyden, UofG History of Art graduate (1994). Annie has always wanted to pursue a career in the museum sector and is now the Curator for International Photography  at the National Galleries of Scotland. These are some of the take-home messages for UofG students she shared with me:

“Take advantage of every opportunity”

While studying at UofG, Annie carried out an impressive number of extra-curricular activities; volunteering at different museums including the Kelvingrove and Hunterian Art Gallery, undertaking guided tours at the Glasgow School of Art, and holding down a paid job too. She notes that all these experiences helped her to confirm the career she wanted to pursue, and sometimes served as a healthy form of escape if studies were becoming too stressful!  

The University provides a wide range of career-supporting opportunities, including career events and internships for PGRs, and Annie advises on how to make the most of these: ‘I think this event hosted by the careers service, for example, is a great opportunity. Students can contact people within the workforce, and most people will make time to talk to them. There are two things to gain from such events. Firstly, you can build your network and learn from other peoples’ experiences. Secondly, an important part of it is building confidence. As a young graduate starting out, it’s a useful experience to meet esteemed colleagues, talk with them, and find out that they too face challenges. It may not necessarily be a job that comes out of this, but the interaction and exposure help to build your confidence.’

“Invest in your relationships here” and “Diversify”

Image credit to Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Annie also highlights how a strong and diverse support network of peers can help you through university life and beyond. ‘People sometimes think networking is going into a room full of strangers and handing out business cards. But fellow students and colleagues form an important part of your network too. You may know students who aren’t from Glasgow but another country – this is all building on your global network. If you have a diverse range of associates, you can hear about more opportunities and respond to them.’

“Early on, I did suffer from imposter syndrome…but remember that you do have something to contribute”

Imposter syndrome, doubting your own accomplishments and feeling a bit of a fraud, can actually be a common experience for PGRs, as we have previously explored. Annie recalls a challenging time in her own career when she left the UK as a postgraduate to intern in Los Angeles, where she worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum. While she loved it there, she remembers moments when she felt out of her comfort zone and challenged. ‘It was easy to ask myself, “What’s little old me from Glasgow doing in Los Angeles?” But it’s important to remember that it’s okay. You’re there for the experience, and you do have something to contribute.’  

“You don’t need to do everything” and “Worry less!”

These are two pieces of great advice from Annie. ‘There will be plenty of opportunities. Listen to your own voice. Completing studies is the priority, so don’t feel you need to do everything on top of this. Even in your job, don’t say yes to everything. This will only give you a headache! Choose wisely.’

“Remind yourself that in being here, in studying here, that’s a major accomplishment”

Image credit to Artur Kraft on Unsplash

‘I loved my time here. It was one of the best periods of my life. The city is so vibrant. There is so much to see and do. I really do believe that ‘People Make Glasgow’. It’s a very warm and friendly place. I would say to current students to really immerse yourself in the city, and the same for the University. It’s a very well-respected University, globally, and we should take pride in that.’

Have you been to, or are you planning to attend, similar careers events? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us @UofG_PGRblog any inspirational stories or advice for UofG students that you’ve come across too!. Also, if you are interested in PGR careers outside of academia, come along to our PGR experience Townhall meeting on the 28th February 2019 at 9.15.

Header photo credit to Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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