Like so many young people, I left university with a degree in a subject I truly love, but not even a hint of an idea of where I wanted to go next. It is sometimes rather easy to feel lost amidst an ocean of similarly educated, skilled and experienced graduates all vying for the same opportunities. What’s more, it’s becoming seemingly commonplace to dismiss the success of a job posting as just ‘sheer luck’, as if in solidarity with those who as of yet have been unsuccessful in their own search.
The Catalyst scheme recognises that many young graduates and placement students are highly driven individuals with talents and skills who have not yet been exposed to the all-essential experience required to gain a foothold on the career ladder. What’s more, Sussex Innovation actively seeks to recruit Catalyst Team members from across the university’s schools and departments because they recognise the value of diversity within the team and wider business.
My arrival at the Innovation Centre back last August as the sixth member of Team 6 was a first for both parties involved. This was my first experience of a professional job in an office, and to tell the truth, I felt like a fish out of water whilst I dived into every project that Simon and Eva threw at me. Being the first Music graduate to walk through the Catalyst doors, I was driven to prove that music graduates are worth their weight in gold.
At the close of any project, there is always time for reflection. Looking back on my eleven months with the Catalyst Team, it’s difficult to believe the quantity and breadth of roles and activities I’ve blitzed my way through: accounts, sales, marketing, social media management, copy-writing, blogging, market research, writing reports, project management, recruitment interviews, to name a few! Perhaps even more importantly, my fellow teammates quickly became some of my closest friends, and sharing this job with like-minded others has been a truly invaluable and rare experience. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve enjoyed every project that has come my way, but that’s what I like most about Catalyst: knowledge is power, and determining my areas of interest and fulfilment are just as important as discovering, understanding and applying my strengths.
I’ve learnt a lot during my Catalyst role, including that ‘sheer luck’ did not have any effect on my successful recruitment. My managers and colleagues saw and later harnessed a potential in me, driven by my own motivation for learning and acquiring new skills and experiences. This has only gained momentum with the confidence and experience I’ve acquired along the way, especially when my influence and opinions have broadened the perspectives and knowledge of others.
So, it’s big question time. What’s next for me?
It’s with a hesitant delight that I’m able to share and celebrate a new opportunity that will see my massively distant move to the other side of the... office! As of next week, I’ll be joining Anne-Fay in the new Market Research and Insight Team as a Research Co-ordinator. My time with Catalyst has rekindled my love for learning and discovery, as well as having a hand in every pot. Through Catalyst, I’ve discovered that doing all sorts of research, talking to people about their experience in just about anything and most importantly, showing businesses a way forward when they’ve come to a crossroads is absolutely my jam!
But why the hesitancy? You may be wondering. Well, as I sit at home writing this in my fourth month of remote working during the global pandemic, it’s difficult to escape the whirling thoughts of the impact that Covid-19 has had. The last few months have been some of the toughest for businesses and people alike. Just this week many of this year’s graduands found out their degree classifications, likely accompanied with a ‘How to Graduate at Home’ pack. Yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £2 billion ‘kickstart’ scheme to create jobs for 16-25-year olds in an attempt to avoid a wave of mass unemployment and “an entire generation getting left behind”.
Despite this, I’m focussing on the positives happening around me. Already, it seems like new businesses and ideas are rising out of the ashes. People are starting conversations about building a positive and exciting future. Being a part of the Catalyst Team has been a truly unique experience, especially during this time, and the opportunities that have arisen as a result of my time here have been invaluable to me. What’s best is that I’ll continue to see future teams arrive and grow whilst continuing to forge my own path.