COMMENT: On the surface, the job wasn’t a fit – but I love it

Through the ScotGrad website, employers can recruit graduates to help them, says Kennedy.
Through the ScotGrad website, employers can recruit graduates to help them, says Kennedy.

We’ve all heard this ­particular tale of woe.

The one where someone grafts for four years to earn a degree in a subject they love, and then applies for job after job, only to be continually turned down because they have limited experience.

But thanks to a savvy careers advisor signposting me to the ScotGrad scheme, that story – thankfully – did not apply to me.

I graduated in 2016 from Glasgow ­Caledonian University with a BA in ­Fashion Business, a course that was roughly a 50:50 split between the fashion and the business aspects. I soon realised that if I wanted to focus purely on fashion, I would probably need to move to London. That didn’t suit my circumstances at the time, so I began to look for suitable jobs in ­Glasgow.

The careers service at Glasgow Caledonian University is really proactive and helpful, so it was through them that I was lucky enough to hear about ScotGrad. It is a scheme that was launched in 2013 by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland.

Through the ScotGrad website, employers can recruit graduates to help them on projects lasting anywhere from three to 12 months. Scottish Enterprise pays part of the graduate’s salary and also carries out a rigorous vetting process of each candidate before suggesting a pool of graduates for the business to interview in person. This saves the recruiting company both time and money.

When I looked at the organisations advertising on ScotGrad at the time, most of them were in construction. I wasn’t sure this sector would be right for me, as I really wanted the chance to use my creativity and I wasn’t convinced that it offered the best opportunity for me to do this.

Then I recognised Rearo’s name. I knew that it manufactured kitchen and bathroom surfaces, so I realised that there must be an element of design involved in what it does. I thought this would offer me the chance to be inventive, so I decided to apply for its marketing graduate role and was successful.

In fact, during the application ­process I found out that Rearo had previously ­taken on a graduate through ScotGrad, who had been given a permanent role after the placement ended – so this was really encouraging. I’ve been at Rearo since March 2017, looking after its marketing activities with an emphasis on digital.

I’ve been tasked with helping the company stand out from its competitors, which has really given me the opportunity to use my imagination and come up with marketing campaigns that are a little bit different. From my experiences I would encourage ­other girls to get involved in what was ­previously considered to be a ­male-dominated industry.

As is the case with many working environments, at Rearo ­everyone is encouraged to help the company prosper.

One of the best things about my placement is that I have been supported and encouraged every step of the way. I think this is partly because they regularly take on apprentices, so they are used to the training process, but also because they are a family business and you are made to feel that your contribution is valuable.

I’ve discovered through this placement that I love marketing, so I’d love to progress this aspect of my career while also growing my own fashion business in my spare time.

ScotGrad says that 94 per cent of graduates on their programme go on to graduate-level employment after their placement, so I have high hopes that this scheme has given me a head start into a fulfilling career. I can’t praise ScotGrad and Rearo enough for what they have done to kickstart my working life.

Fiona Kennedy is a marketing graduate at Rearo, which supplies surfaces for kitchens and bathrooms