If you’ve recently graduated or are about to graduate from a Scottish university, chances are you’ll have heard of ScotGrad (and if you haven’t then you’re about to thank me). ScotGrad essentially provide graduate placements for growing businesses. These businesses will have identified a gap in their business plan/strategy that could be supported by a recent graduate – this means that the graduate isn’t just making tea, they’re making a worthwhile contribution to the business and in doing so gaining valuable hands on experience. Throughout the placement, ScotGrad provides support for the graduate and offer a 3 day residential training programme which aims to help with business and leadership skills.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined 17 other recent graduates at the Jury’s Inn in Edinburgh for ScotGrad residential training. We had a pretty intense 3 days lead by Dr Russell Matthews from Strathclyde University and Dr John Park, who previous ran graduate programmes for P&G and Pepsico – both of which were fantastic. Not everyone who attended the course had a business related degree. We had engineers, designers, scientists and a few from an IT background but due to the nature of the tasks and discussions no one was at a disadvantage – everyone was in the same boat and was just looking to make the most of the training.
Throughout the training course we covered a mixture of business skills which made us think about our companies from an outside perspective and we were encouraged to think critically and really challenge our company’s existing business model. Where ScotGrad really differentiates itself from your typical graduate programme is the emphasis on personal development. Not all placements will become permanent so learning how to sell yourself and understand how to take advantage of your network was discussed at length and for those attending with permanent positions this would have been greatly beneficial for understanding your own value and, of course, for future career progression.
The final day was presentation day. We were asked to reflect on our placement and discuss how we would be able to incorporate what we’d learned during the training into our work. Some of the managers (my own included), ScotGrad and Scottish Enterprise employees as well as some employees from the likes of Business Gateway were in attendance – which sounds a lot scarier than it was. There was a very supportive and encouraging atmosphere so the presentations ran smoothly (and I felt rather silly at getting as stressed!).