Finding my path
Beth's Catalyst Story
With my time on the Catalyst team soon coming to an end, I have been carefully considering my next career move. Reflecting on the skills I have gained over the past 10 months has shown me the many possible paths this role has paved for me. After taking on a very wide range of long-term and short-term projects including sales, marketing, market research, social media management, copy-writing and events planning, I will be walking away from the Sussex Innovation Centre with an invaluable toolkit that has given me confidence in adapting to any working environment. This makes it both a little more difficult to choose which way to go, but also makes me feel immensely grateful for the breadth of experience and confidence I have in lots of different job roles in such a short space of time.
I have always enjoyed and been passionate about providing brilliant customer service - going over and above to fulfill people’s expectations and being as helpful as possible. This was nurtured and built on throughout my years working in the hospitality industry. There is something wonderful about the combination of offering something immensely useful or enjoyable (hopefully both!) with a beaming smile – it feels good.
I think this in part is what has led me to be so passionate about writing useful, engaging and meaningful content – It means an awful lot to me to be doing something that I feel truly matters. From working at a vegan sushi restaurant, to working with Sustainable Design Collective - a family business that designs and builds eco-homes, to populating a new online platform that helps non-profit organisations find the right grant for them for 3rd Eye Vision, I have been lucky enough to work on projects that align with my belief that business feels extra rewarding when you are positively contributing to something bigger.
The network that SINC has helped me build has already proven to be a great asset. It’s given me the confidence to put myself out there and attend networking events, introducing myself to people as someone worth talking to.
When you’re a recent graduate it’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough to offer and wonder where all the mythical ‘value’ that companies were instantly going to see in you is - that there are thousands of others in the same boat with you, this boat is sinking and only a few of you will get a hand to pull you out! Okay…maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but it can feel like employers require a lot more than you’re physically able to give straight after 3 years at university. And what’s more, you are often faced with choosing a narrow and specified role in one aspect of a company.
This is where, in my humble opinion, the Catalyst programme trumps any other job that I could have taken out of university. Firstly, you have an outstanding team of experts in the support team that are there for you and really want to see you grow into a brilliant candidate for your next job. As the programme is a fixed 12-month placement, rather than feeling like you can’t discuss your next career choice with management you are actually ENCOURAGED to so you are well prepared, and they can offer you advice along the way.
Couple that with the expertise you gain in a wide range of roles in different business models and industries - you have a winning combination. You may have some projects that are more long-term which help you develop the skills required in more depth, you will also get a shot at trying out lots of different skill sets through smaller, one-off projects. You’ll leave with tangible skills such as effectively using a variety of software and platforms and project management skills from managing your own clients. Most importantly, it helps you to gain a deeper understanding of what it is that you really want to do – a bit like trying before you buy.
So, here comes the big question - what did I choose to do? The route I have decided to take is one that allows me to create useful and compelling content and communicate with others through marketing and social media. However, I am remaining open to growing my other skills further and keeping my eye on opportunities in project and event management. This is part of the reason why I am so keen to continue working with start-ups; those roles can often bleed into each other and you are responsible for, or at least contribute to, more than one aspect of the business– something that Catalyst has prepared me for.
My final takeaway from my experience on the team and for taking the first or next step in your career: As long as you are driven, keen to learn, ask questions and diligent with your work, you will thrive wherever you go.