The Journey to Becoming a Saltire Scholar

Welcome to my first blog post as part of being a Saltire Scholar 2021! My name is Meem and I am a recent graduate from the University of Stirling with my Bachelors in Business Studies and Marketing. Currently, I am interning as a Marketing Strategist (Virtual Internship) with JTECH Medical – a company based in the USA. My journey to becoming a Saltire Scholar is a bit different from the usual as I was previously accepted as a Saltire Scholar back in 2020 however due to the pandemic, that internship unfortunately did not go through! I was so extremely excited and honoured to have been given a second chance and have been enjoying every second of it! My aim with this blog post is to give some tips and advice that have been shared with me during every stage of the application process along with what to expect when being accepted to your desired internship. I hope you find this blog post informative and hopefully will encourage you to apply for yourself!

Now, let’s start with the internship programme itself and the application process. The Saltire Scholar Internship Programme is funded by Entrepreneurial Scotland and is a world-class internship programme aimed for university students in their penultimate year of study. The programme’s aim is to match students with commercially valuable projects hosted by companies based in Scotland and around the world! What sparked my interest to apply for the programme was when attending a workshop held by the career services at my university. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to take part in as in my opinion, what sets this internship programme apart from others is being part of a supportive community and getting the chance to expand your horizons by developing skills and knowledge that will benefit me professionally, personally, and academically!

The application process was a very long procedure as there were different stages to complete to secure a Saltire Scholar internship. The first stage was an initial online application process by answering 8 competency-based questions. My advice at this stage would be to start the questions early and to take your time with answering them! I remember some questions being quite peculiar in nature which required a little bit more thought than others! This is where the careers service at your university will come into play. I would also say keep a look out for any workshops and events about the Saltire Scholar application process. By having your application looked over by your career services, they can help suggest ways to improve your answers, giving you a better shot at progressing to the next stage. I remember having my application looked over multiple times before submitting!

The next stage of the process is the speed interviews. This involves being interviewed by a previous Saltire Scholar along with a member of the Entrepreneurial Scotland team. I remember for my speed interview; I was super nervous as I had never done a speed interview before. However, my interviewers were so lovely, and I even bonded with one of my interviewers over a common interest – Harry Potter! At this stage, a tip I would suggest would be to fully understand the mission and aim behind the programme and to have that shine through in the answers that provide! The interviewers are looking to see if you understand what Entrepreneurial Scotland is looking for within a Saltire Scholar and whether you have the relevant skills and knowledge. Even if you think you don’t have as much work experience, I guarantee that you have gained essential skills and attributes that the Saltire programme is looking for from other aspects such as university, volunteering, clubs, and societies etc.

Now, let’s move to the next stage of the journey to becoming a Saltire Scholar - being accepted into the candidate pool! I would say this is the fun part where you now can view all the internship vacancies and the host companies.

The internships will be released in the form of lists which involved writing a tailored CV and cover letter for each role that you’re interested in. I’ll share the same tip that a career consultant had shared with me when applying for various internships, for both my cover letter and CV – write down the job description and person specification into a separate word document. Then one by one, match each task/responsibility to a specific skill/attribute. Then, match each skills/attribute to a specific example of a time that you demonstrated said skill. By providing specific examples, this demonstrates to potential employers that you have the skills/attributes that they are looking for! Don’t worry if you don’t tick every box as the important thing is that you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role! Last but definitely not least, once you get past the interview stage, you can then proudly announce that you have become a Saltire Scholar – Hooray!!!!

Like I mentioned before, I had the pleasure in being accepted as a Saltire Scholar in 2020 for a company based in Glasgow. However, the internship could not go through due to the pandemic. I was extremely gutted when given the news as I thought all that hard work (the overall process took around 6 months) was all for nothing. Although disappointed, I decided to be proactive and took part in various opportunities during that summer – whilst in lockdown. I had a look at some of the internships promoted through my university and I underwent two virtual marketing internships with 2 local, Stirling based companies. Additionally, I had also completed the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing online course provided by Google Digital Garage. The fact that between last summer and this summer, I had gained additional marketing experience alongside experienced remote working, is what made me successful in securing this years’ internship with a global company!

What I want you to take away from this story is that sometimes things don’t always go as planned and if they don’t, the important thing to remember is when one door closes, another one opens – be proactive and look for other opportunities and experiences which will help prepare you for your future endeavors.

Now, onto the actual internship itself! It’s now near the end of week 2 of my internship with JTECH Medical and I have learned a great amount including the role itself and how this experience can shape essential skills required for my career aspirations. JTECH Medical is a medical equipment manufacturing company that provides high quality equipment and software for individuals in the medical industry. Before starting my internship, I was feeling nervous and excited as I’ve never worked with an international company before - considering there is a 7-hour time difference between the UK and Utah! However, I was up for the challenge and was looking forward to experiencing the difference in culture. During the first week, some of the tasks I have undergone involve installing relevant software on my MacBook, gaining access to relevant social media / digital platforms and undergoing research on various aspects of the project that I will be collaborating on. I also had the pleasure of meeting everyone in the team and everyone has been so lovely and have made me feel at home!

On my first day, I had my very first meeting with the CEO and he gave me very valuable nuggets of wisdom that I would love to share with you! No plan ever goes to plan – there will be times where after so much research, preparation, expectations have gone into something, it just doesn’t go as planned. Instead of feeling frustrated, it’s important to be resilient and adapt to these circumstances by thinking of new and creative solutions. Understand how your role fits into the overall aim of the company – It can be very easy to develop tunnel vision and only focus on the tasks that have been assigned to you. However, by understanding how your responsibilities fit into the bigger picture, this will lead to more success at your role with generating the desired outcome!

A great thing about being a Saltire Scholar is that you gain access to resources to further develop skills and attributes at the early stages of your career. This involves attending webinars hosted by Saltire Alumni. Last week, I attended a webinar about remote working with Sara Robertson and gained great insight and tips into remote/hybrid working and how to thrive in these working environments. If you’re looking for tips on how to make the most out of your virtual internship, here are some great insight that Sara had shared: Document everything – with every tasks/responsibility assigned, write down in detail the information/steps involved. This makes your job easier and efficient for others to complete in the future. Differentiate work/social meetings – It’s very easy to mix work meetings with socialising in a virtual setting. Make a conscious effort to separate the two to build better relationships. Be more digitally proactive – Take the initiative and host social events to build a community and make more meaningful connections!

During the course of my internship, I will be working on the top priority project with the CEO alongside the marketing agency partner to refine the Go-To-Market strategy for the primary target demographic. My role involves assisting with market research to refine specific personas and crafting campaigns to help generate leads. I am beyond ecstatic to be working on this project as I hope my contribution can help the project be a success! Some of the goals I have set for myself include: Create a weekly checklist of the assigned tasks and share this with the rest of the team – this will keep me accountable and on top of things. Maintain a work routine by working same hours and taking regular breaks – this will prevent burn out and will keep me focused and motivated throughout the week. Work hard and enjoy the experience – the weeks will fly by in the blink of an eye and so, I’m gonna remind myself to make the most of it!

And…. this is where I will now end my first blog. I hope it wasn’t too long or rambly! I hope what you have read has been informative and will encourage to apply to become the next Saltire Scholar! Look out for my next blog post and I look forward to speaking with you then!

Written by: Meem Tasnim, University of Stirling Marketing Strategist Intern, JTECH Medical, USA (virtual)
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