My time as a #SaltireScholar

I am Eilidh Corrigan, I study International Business and Modern Language at the University of Strathclyde and I’m currently interning with Pencil or Ink. I applied to be a Saltire Scholar way back in 2019 and was successful in obtaining an internship which was planned for 2020. Like a few other very lucky scholars, my internship was postponed due to the events of last year and I can finally write about my long-awaited opportunity!

I still remember receiving the phone call back in 2020 to confirm my placement. I had slipped out of a lecture and was in disbelief that in roughly 3 months’ I would be out of the continent for the first time and headed to NYC. Unfortunately, the world had different plans, but my experience has been every part as engaging and interesting this year.

Initially, I felt a little nervous to begin. I had so many questions and thoughts in my mind about how the internship would work. Throughout the year, I was able to keep an eye on Pencil or Ink’s website and wonder how my placement would unfold.

From the very beginning of the internship Ellie, the founder of Pencil or Ink, asked me “So what do you want to gain from this experience?”. I was a little caught off guard having never been asked this at the start of a job before! But this is testament to the culture which Ellie emulates through Pencil or Ink. Her coaching and leadership expertise were evident from the first interaction we had. In the same week, I had the opportunity to meet Alyssa, who manages social media and interaction with clients for Pencil or Ink. I felt at ease and in control of my own work, Ellie and Alyssa were both very supportive of my research being something of interest to me.

My first task was to investigate the post pandemic workplace and to write a report with insightful information that can be used in workshops with clients. There is an abundance of information about this topic, and it was really interesting to research how different countries reacted to containing Covid-19 in the workplace. Although the pandemic has had somewhat of an omnipresence upon the past 18 months of our lives, I didn’t fully comprehend how it would shape the future of work until now. It was interesting to learn about hybrid working and how society’s attitude towards structured working days may change in the future. I think something which has always been so interesting for our generation is that the world of work is going to change a lot.

The pandemic has definitely accelerated this change, but I think one of my biggest personal learning curves through the internship is that we have to be adaptable and open to what our careers may look like. However, it was also incredible to learn that the potential of employees within the workplace is changing and growing as work life balances have been incorporated into more people’s lives through the pandemic.

I was given the opportunity to feature on Pencil or Ink’s blog with two feature pieces. This opportunity was exciting and made me feel like part of the team. I would recommend having a look at their website and blogposts, there are some really pertinent posts for us graduates at the start of our careers.

Although, I was working remotely, I was given the opportunity to attend an online workshop hosted by Ellie. It was interesting to see how engagement has changed online and I picked up on a number of ways to keep people present. Pencil or Ink can provide a type of self-awareness test and I was lucky enough to have one. This is something that I think will help me in the future in work and in personal life too. Unlike a psychometric test, it didn’t give me a score, it simply told me what my strong points are and what kind of a person I am. A lot of the points were scary in how specific they were to my personality!

I can’t believe I am at the end of my internship with Pencil or Ink. This internship has been more than working to support the needs of a business. I have learned so much about myself, about how I work and about what I want from my future career. I do believe Ellie and Alyssa’s influence and coaching will have a significant impact on my working life in years to come. I am so grateful for the opportunity and as much as I am sad to be waving goodbye to my time as a saltire scholar; I now grow more excited to see what life has planned for me next and look forward to supporting Saltire Programmes in the future in any way I can.

Written by: Eilidh Corrigan, University of Strathclyde, Research Consultant Intern, Pencil or Ink, New York (virtual)
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