Waking up with the dreaded first day nerves, my commute to work this morning was slowly filled with a myriad of what-ifs flying around in my head. The past few months had been spent eagerly awaiting the commencement of my first professional job, which after managing to successfully hold down not one, but two zero-hour contract jobs during my university studies seemed like a dream come true. However, as I pulled into the car park, my partner turned to me and asked if I wanted to go in and double-check the parking situation.
For a split-second, I was satisfied with enough excitement for one day and pondered happily returning to the safety of home. Fortunately, when I did make it to reception (not even five minutes later), I was once again welcomed by Simon and Eva, whom I’d met back in March for my first Catalyst interview. Their warm introductions were followed by an informative morning of induction talks. I was quickly reminded of why I’d been so drawn to the Innovation Centre when I had first seen the job advert back in the early spring.
As a Music graduate, it is certainly true that I certainly spent a large proportion of my academic career sidestepping the inevitable “but where will a degree like this take you” question. Usually, I’d panic and instead talk about an interesting titbit I’d picked up from an open day at Cardiff University back in 2012 in the hopes that it would somehow stun the questioner into deep enough thought that I could a) change the conversation or b) run away. According to a questionnaire that Cardiff University sent out to their local businesses in 2012, aside from Business graduates, Music graduates were the second most highly sought-after employees. But why? Well to put it bluntly, this is a degree in transferable skills! Teamwork? Ensemble playing. Leadership? Conducting. Public speaking? Public recitals. The list is endless.
So, where has my degree in transferable skills led me, and why was I drawn to working at the Innovation Centre? The most attractive part of the Catalyst Programme was the offer of a challenging, yet highly rewarding job with lots of hands-on experience. Catalyst team members learn useful skills regarding business environments and have at their fingertips a great opportunity for networking with a variety of people and companies across two sites. No previous experience required. I am the first Music graduate to join the Catalyst Team, and whilst I don’t have a clear career path just yet, I have confidence in my so-called soft skills such as leadership, teamworking and problem solving that my years of experience as a musician has given me. In addition to the above, what I am hoping to get out of my time with the Catalyst Team are some business specific hard skills and experience which will stand me in good stead for working with companies in the future.
As the sixth recruit of the sixth Catalyst Team, I’m finally able to say that I’m not just “one of the lucky ones” to have secured such an excellent opportunity so close to finishing my degree, but that the hard work and perseverance that got me through my A-Levels, degree and job hunting can continue to be honed and utilised in a professional manner. So far, the first day has been much less scary than what I was expecting; everyone seems very friendly and the whole atmosphere is warm, welcoming and filled with people hard at work. I’m excited for what tomorrow may bring and am very much looking forward to shaping my own future with the help of Simon, Eva and the rest of the Catalyst Team.