From applicant to Saltire Scholar

Sehar Mehmood

English and Politics Student, University of Dundee

Operations Intern at Entrepreneurial Scotland

Hi, welcome to my first blog post!

My name is Sehar Mehmood and I’m working as an Operations Intern at Entrepreneurial Scotland (ESF) this summer. As part of my internship, I’m helping the ESF team to prepare for the next cycle of the Saltire Scholar’s programme, a very surreal experience having just gone through the cycle myself.

I am a soon-to-be fourth-year English and Politics student at the University of Dundee and since becoming an undergraduate I’ve taken on various jobs. Currently, I spent my time volunteering as a current-affairs writer with a non-profit and working part-time in the heritage sector, helping to improve the representation of POC communities in museums and galleries. In between all of this, I am a bookworm with a soft spot for the ‘whodunit’ genre and a true crime/horror podcast lover.

As any humanities student knows, suitable internship opportunities are in the few and after having searched many different prospects, I was stressed, consistently running into problems such as location, timing and affordability. It was during this time that my university invited me to an online-information session run by ESF on their Saltire Scholar programme. Through it I learned about the sheer amount of internship opportunities they offered from various sectors and the support systems in place for students who went on to become scholars. I saw it as one of the best options for humanities students, especially since the skills and experience gained would be invaluable, acting as a guide for my next career steps.

The application process was challenging, reflecting ESF’s dedication to finding the right candidates for the programme. As an applicant, I had the chance to learn the importance of asking for help and applying the advice given (an often-overlooked skill!). I made the decision to seek guidance from the people I worked with, they became a great source of encouragement for me, working as my sounding board as I wrote my CV and cover letters and practised my interview questions. Because of this, I learned how to better manage my anxieties and doubts, becoming more comfortable and confident in ‘selling myself’ both on paper and in person.

I came across the role of Operations Assistant quite a bit into the programme, having gone through lists but not finding anything which touched on what I was looking for, whilst still sore after receiving a rejection from my first application. But in reading the role I realised how much it suited my aspirations and how it targeted areas where I wanted to grow; the role itself involves reviewing operations and processes within the foundation and asking questions like what can be improved and how can we adapt to the needs of workforce? This is what attracted me to the position, the opportunity to challenge and problem solve, helping to make positive changes to communities whilst being supported by the ESF team.

My first week was a memorable experience as I met members of the team, recognising names as ones I had exchanged emails with during my time as an applicant, to suddenly be on the operations side of the process I had just been through was very uncanny, especially as one of my projects involves assisting in the launch of the 2023 programme. Sitting in the office with the ESF team is always an enjoyable experience as I often overhear team members celebrate the wins of their scholars and hear about their career journeys. As the weeks go past in this role and I delve further into my projects I’m excited to learn more about how the team functions together and learn how I can position myself to assist in the best way I can. I also aim to become a master of Excel, present my project work at a meeting and leave this role having developed a stronger sense of where I want to go when I graduate. I am excited to see who I will come across during my time in this role and to watch the work I do develop and become part of the changes happening in ESF.

I wish the best of luck to future applicants and encourage them to pick an internship which will challenge their skill set and target the areas they want to grow in.

Written by: Sehar Mehmood
Sehar Mehmood ESF Intern