Sam’s Catalyst story
Tuesday 3rd July, my first day. Nervous and naive, I took my first step into the world of full-time work. Within my first week, I was dropped straight into the deep end, having meetings with three different clients within the first few days. Thrilled to be given the responsibility to jump right into client work and eager to provide value, my nerves quickly settled and my confidence had grown massively just in the first few weeks. Fast forward 12 months and I have now worked with 12 different clients, completing a wide range of projects, and have made many new friendships in the process.
“What do you do?”
The tricky question I get asked the most. Broadly, the Catalyst Team is a Sussex Innovation Centre initiative that provides a unique business resource to fuel the growth of entrepreneurial businesses on a flexible basis. However, when it comes to defining the specific work we do, it becomes a little trickier. This is because our work can massively vary from day-to-day. For instance, since starting, I have completed numerous projects for a wide range of clients operating in various different industries. Examples of these include:
- Finder.com - The UK’s fastest growing personal finance comparison website
- Heads above the cloud - Technology company which specialise in producing interactive, immersive environments and visualisations.
- Springhouse Solicitors - Employment law specialists
- Baachu - Outsourcing Strategy Advisory
- Try Time Rugby - Kids Rugby Franchise
- Stick It On - Entertainment company
Not only has Catalyst given me the opportunity to work with an amazing range of unique businesses it has also allowed me to take part in a wide array of events and projects. For example, the work I have carried out has included content marketing, PR, research projects, sales, product ideation, digital marketing, blog writing, WordPress page building, and many other client-tailored projects.
The variety of work and the need to learn quickly can be a challenge, but for me, it is this variety and the wealth of hands-on experience where Catalyst truly shines as a job. The unique experience of working in many different environments and cultures with lots of fantastic, intelligent and innovative people is an enlightening experience for any graduate or placement student.
Naturally, when it comes to starting my first full-time job there was a lot to learn, both about the new environment I was stepping into and the work I would be carrying out. However, by throwing myself into as many opportunities as possible and working with experienced and inspiring people, I feel like my knowledge, skills and confidence have transformed since the first day.
Top three lessons learnt:
Be proactive - ask questions, take opportunities and take the initiative.
You are not going to be perfect at everything off the bat and things aren’t always going to go to plan but take responsibility, learn quickly and act.
Build relationships and get involved.
My time with Catalyst wouldn’t have been the same without all of my very welcoming, understanding and guiding clients. One of particular note is Finder.com, who have been my main long-term client over my year here at Catalyst. I first started with Finder for one day a week, where I was mainly carrying out research and building web pages for their content marketing and PR team. This soon developed into two days a week, and then three days meaning my role with Finder has changed throughout my time there. Not only has it been really enjoyable to work with Finder, but the results have also been excellent, with the Content marketing and PR team’s main KPI increasing by 260% since I started with them. It has been great to see how much the whole business has grown over such a short time, and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.
Another stand out moment at my time with Catalyst was going to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham with Heads above the cloud, to get feedback and look for potential customers for a new platform they were creating.
Last but not least the team at the Sussex Innovation Centre have been fantastic. Although I don’t see them very often, due to me being the only Catalyst team member in Croydon and me being in client offices, they are always there for support if needed.
As a work placement year student who goes back to university in September, working for Catalyst at the Sussex Innovation Centre has been a small step in my life and into the world of working. However, reflecting on my time here, I can confirm Sussex innovation centre and the clients I have worked for have allowed me to make a giant leap in my journey. I hope I have added to theirs too.