As her work placement comes to a close, Stella Hosier looks back at her last 6 months at Always Be Content.
For my third year of university, I had the option of doing a 6-month work placement or participating in a group consultancy project alongside a standard module. I chose the placement because the idea of gaining practical industry experience appealed to me. I saw it as a means to enhance my future employability prospects and also a challenge through which I could learn more about myself and what I want my future to look like.
At Edinburgh Napier, there is a strong emphasis on developing “employability skills” which include communication, collaboration, initiative, and problem-solving. I hoped that by stepping into a professional work environment, I could develop these skills more effectively by working on real projects as opposed to theoretical applications.
Before starting the placement, I was a little nervous. I had no experience in the industry and therefore had a limited idea of what to expect. The first couple of weeks were spent getting to know the team, my role, and how the two fit together. In the early stages, I also spent time understanding how the company is structured under Holacracy. This way of organising processes and workflows increases agility while encouraging a culture of accountability and transparency. The induction process was extremely thorough, and in the spirit of Holacracy, I was given the autonomy to work through it at my own pace. From the very beginning, I was met with respect and kindness and treated as a member of the team, rather than just a temporary addition.
A major highlight of the placement was a trip to Hawick to raise awareness of Scottish Water’s Back the Ban campaign. It encourages the public to support a petition to ban wipes containing plastic, and participating in the campaign at ground level helped me appreciate the importance of its message. It was also interesting to see how Scottish Water is delivering the behavioural and systems changes required to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050.
Another highlight was helping to organise a pop-up shopping fundraiser for Edinburgh Business Beats Cancer. It was a great event in aid of a fantastic cause, and I was blown away by the hard work and dedication of the EBBC Board. They invest substantial time and resources to run various fundraising events throughout the year, creating a real sense of community in the process.
Overall, my placement has been an incredible learning experience, and the team at ABC has made me feel entirely welcome and supported throughout. I have gained so much confidence in my abilities and sharpened some of my technical skills including data analysis and knowledge of marketing strategies. I have also developed an interest in social marketing, particularly in the context of sustainability, and enjoyed learning about the various tools which can be deployed to encourage sustainable behaviour change. In addition, working for an organisation with a strong focus on ESG has given me a unique insight into the stakeholder value created by integrating ESG practices into the business model and operations.
A lesson I had not anticipated taking away from my placement experience is how important looking after your mental and physical well-being is to succeeding at work. Reflecting on my time at university, I found I often prioritised my workload over my well-being, which paradoxically harmed my productivity. “Hustle culture” is a pervasive pressure emerging from social media. It has become normalised among students and is now casting a long shadow of anxiety, self-doubt, and burnout. At Always Be Content, a culture of well-being is promoted throughout the organisation, which helps to minimise stress and create a positive working environment. Seeing how my colleagues approach their work-life balance prompted me to re-evaluate mine. I’ve now identified areas for improvement, which I will carry with me into my final year of university and beyond.
Going forward, I plan to utilise some of the skills and knowledge I have gained on my placement. I like the idea of giving something back to the university, whose efforts ensure students like me continue to have these life-changing opportunities. With this in mind, next year I will take on the roles of well-being officer and joint social media manager for the Napier Hiking and Outdoor Society. In the longer term, I hope that once I graduate, I can continue to grow both personally and professionally, using the skills I have acquired to make a positive change in the world.
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