My first week at Catalyst - Paul

I joined the Catalyst team at the beginning of September following an extensive break after graduation to develop some practical skills, work on my writing and take a less-productive two week break on a tropical beach. Even after all that, I was eager to get stuck in to operations at the Innovation Centre. It excited me, and still does, to be working at a dynamic place with the opportunity to establish and build abilities in a range of business-focused areas. One of the main aspects of the Catalyst programme that appealed to me was being able to spend time in that positive, creative start-up atmosphere where every effort made a significant contribution, and I hoped it would live up to my expectations on that front. Suffice to say, arriving and seeing all the pleasant faces with genuine enthusiasm was very reassuring.

I had expected to be eased into it a little, with maybe a bit of hand-holding on my first few efforts, but that was the first curveball that I had to adapt to at SINC. By the end of my first day – after a few hours of meetings, greetings and profile-writings - I was diving into CRM software for a client, figuring out how they could kick-start a big marketing push. It was exciting; my efforts here had a genuine impact already. It was interesting, too, to be listening to the chatter of marketing folk in the background, occasionally picking up on a bit of the lingo and feeling quietly proud of myself. That sums up my experiences as a Catalyst team member so far – you’re providing something important with your skills and time, and gaining little nuggets of wisdom here and there that you’ll be able to apply later on.

And the things I’ve learned so far? Invaluable. I’ve applied my degree skills in responsive layout design to build websites that effectively convey the spirit of a company, I’ve learned how to conduct a productive meeting to establish requirements for a project, I’ve learned how to research and compile information for internal communications… It’s all invaluable in different ways, and these skills are easily developed in the positive, friendly atmosphere of the Innovation Support office. Possibly my favourite tasks so far are the ones where I can really get stuck in to a task. I’ve had fun writing articles for the SINC website, testing my ability to dive into press releases and reports in a new context, and looking into new software and finding out whether it can be used effectively in a certain context is interesting, but my favourite task so far has been building a website for an off-site company. I was given, relatively speaking, a lot of free reign with few resources provided – a few PowerPoints of content, a previous website and a few competitors for inspiration – and taking this information, analysing it and considering how it can be incorporated into a website in a way that reflects a specific company’s passion and focus was incredibly engaging. It’s still an active project, but it was very rewarding seeing a positive response to the website’s first draft, and watching the flow of ideas, sparked by my own, coming from the company’s head. I’m looking forward to more comprehensive projects like this; not just in similar areas, but in others like market research and business development.

Working at SINC as a Catalyst has definitely made me realise the “struggles” of the working world. Early mornings, busy days and a constant craving for coffee are symptoms I’m still learning to live with. A more pleasant surprise, though, is the satisfaction I’m getting from doing it. It turns out that – for me – the best part of working as a Catalyst is simply getting your teeth stuck in. I’m glad to have been able to get started on that so quickly, and I hope to be doing it many more times in the future.

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