Business Interns – Carina Gerards tells us about life in Toronto!

SoSS met with Carina Gerards; 2018’s successful Array Marketing Intern
Carina had just completed her internship in the Toronto head office of Array. She was one of two students who successfully applied and took part in a dissertation project for the global cosmetic visual merchandiser. Carina is originally from Germany, and travelled to Edinburgh to study her MSc with us – she graduates this November.

How are you Carina, now that you have completed your Internship and your MSc with us?

“I am feeling relaxed, I love research so the dissertation part of my degree was fascinating for me. I hope to do a PhD in the future as research projects are where my interests lie. I am heading back to Germany where I hope to apply for a PhD.”

Carina popped into the SoSS Marketing office this summer to give us the low down on the Array internship. During our discussions she described Array as a ‘social and warm cosmetic company’. Carina had previously worked in for several cosmetic companies in Germany; with one in particular proving a negative experience. This made her question if she ever wanted to work in that specific industry again. Thankfully Array – and Honorary Professor Tom Hendren changed her mind. Her first encounter with Array was Professor Hendren’s pitch’ to the International Marketing Management masters cohort to invite them to apply for the once in a lifetime internship with his company.

“Professor Hendren’s presentation to my class was relaxed and open, I could tell from this that Array were a great company to work with. Tom had such a natural approach and seemed so rooted – this was incredibly important to me”.

How did you apply for the Array internship?

“I had to submit my CV, create a written cover letter in support of the opportunity and then interview. As I had worked in the beauty industry previously (for a German company which operates in 53 countries globally), I knew that my experience was relevant. I was not however taking it easy.”

Carina described how she was so nervous she went into the interview shaking with fear! Tom Hendren, Elaine Collinson (a leading academic on the Business Management programme) recognised this and tried their best to relax her. Carina, came armed with a wide range of industry questions which when they were answered, also helped to put her at ease.

Tell us about your experience of transitioning to Toronto.

Carina described how she feels culturally open-minded; her partner is not German, she grew up many nationalities in her family and she studies in Scotland; multicultural is completely normal to Carina. She is very open and relaxed about cultural differences and found the transition to Canada relatively smooth. She discussed how the lack of additional language barrier was a major bonus! Carina did prepare for life in Canada’s capital, spending loads of time reading up about the culture of Canadians (magazines, corporate journals and cultural references on social media) and city life in Toronto but stressed that her 10 months here in Edinburgh helped as the transition to Scotland had been an easy one too.
How long were you there for?

“We completed our final exam packed our bags and headed out! Nora Holmen (the other SoSS intern) was already there (she headed out a day ahead of Carina) and knowing that she would be there was a blessing.”

The two student colleagues had a few days to explore the locality – Scarborough, the eastern part of the city a young and vibrant district. Fortunately, members of the Array Research and Development team also lived in the area, and offered helpful advice and a welcoming tour of the area to socialise.

What’s Array like to work for?

Carina noted that Array was a really busy work place, where the culture is supportive but hard working. Carina said the culture was one of

“striving to do your very best but you are not worked to the grind; you won’t end up ill working there”

The Array project entailed working with several different departments across the Array business, holding interviews with key staff and getting to know several different functions of the business. As Carina had a damaged view of the corporate world due to her negative previous experience she was keen to work with a company that had heart and passion; not creating robots – this is what she found at Array.

What was the hardest thing you did during the internship?

The board presentation; Carina and Nora Holmen had to present their project to the full board and the HR department. Carina described how this was such a challenge, after working so hard over the 5 weeks for it, they were understandably extremely nervous.

“We went overboard and were delighted when Elaine Collinson arrived in the presentation/grading week and helped us trim the presentation; down from 140 slides to 40! We had got tangled up in the perspective, and had forgotten to view ourselves as consultants providing Array with a business prospect, rather than an essay!”

After the presentation, there was a Q & A session, where several members of the board asked about specifics and how Array could implement the suggestions into the business. Carina felt that the project gave Array something tangible,

“We had the customer insights and raw data tied up in some useable solutions, which if implemented could give Array a technological edge.”

Carina, whilst she found the end pitch challenging, also found it extremely inspiring, delivering data and insights to key staff members who could appreciate the value of their work. It was very rewarding for her.

What was the best thing about the Internship for you Carina?

Carina was keen to make her parents proud; confirm to them that she had left her highly paid and skilled job in Germany for something worthwhile.

“I wanted to prove to them (parents) that my MSc was taking me somewhere worthwhile. Studying at Heriot-Watt has allowed me to show them this; choosing this programme and being successfully chosen to do the Array internship has done this. I am super proud of this experience and I loved the challenge.”

“Working with Array has given me the confidence to work for large corporates again in the future. I loved it, it was a brilliantly refreshing experience. The culture in the office was enlightening and vibrant, welcoming and friendly, everyone knew everyone’s names, and you were allowed to be you in the workplace – there were people with tattoos and colourful hair, this is not what I expected from a corporate.”

Carina is passionate about technology with a specific interest in AI and her potential PhD is based around this. Carina also spoke at length about how the culture of Array greatly impressed her.

For any students thinking about applying for the Array Internship or an MSc with Heriot Watt – do you have any advice?

“Go for it, you should never stop learning. I really think that’s very important. It’s hard but so worth it. This internship allowed me to travel and to work at the same time, getting paid, food and a home in Toronto, it’s a benefit from every point of view. Heriot Watt University is such a great place to study, and this internship is a practical experience – you are not just making the coffee. It’s your own project so be and show who you are throughout it; as an authentic presentation is incredibly valuable”.

Thanks Carina!
Carina Gerards will graduate with a Distinction in the MSc in International Marketing Management with Consumer Psychology last week. She is now working back home in Germany in a company operating in the same field as Array; and they are supporting her through her PhD.

Carina Gerards
Carina – One of our recently Graduated Masters Students

Penguins, beer and economic development…

Professor Paul Hare from our Accountancy, Economics & Finance Department spent two weeks in July in the Falkland Islands, working on a project for the EU concerned with evaluating the last two aid programmes in the Falklands funded by the EU. He writes for us below about his time there.

Continue reading Penguins, beer and economic development…

Climbing the learning ladder

Though you might come to Heriot-Watt as an undergrad, the journey doesn’t have to stop there. Several of our undergrad and masters students go on to further study or research with the University, and even begin a career here!

Gordon Jack is currently working within the Pre-Sessional English Admissions team in SoSS. Indeed, he is no stranger to the university, having studied at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level here.

Continue reading Climbing the learning ladder

SoSS Psychology students “Research the Headlines”

Alan Gow from our Psychology department, has written for us on “Research the Headlines”, a fascinating blog project enabling students to develop their critical thinking skills and ability to disseminate their growing knowledge. Well done to the students involved in showcasing their work!

In our teaching, we want to ensure that our students not only get a firm grasp of their topic, but that they develop a range of skills that might be relevant after they graduate. For students in the 4th Year course Psychology of Ageing, one of the pieces of coursework helped them to develop their abilities in communicating their specialised knowledge. Their task was to describe an original research report exploring how lifestyle affects brain health in a manner accessible to non-experts, as well as evaluating the media coverage of the research. At the end of June, Research the Headlines showcased some of that work.

Continue reading SoSS Psychology students “Research the Headlines”

What can Blackpool donkeys teach us about exercise

Neil Gibson, Director of Sport, Performance and Health at Oriam: Scotland’s sports performance centre, and Programme Director within the School of Social Sciences recently published a paper looking at optimising recovery between intense periods of work. Here he explains how exercise and interdisciplinary research might help us organise and optimise how allowing people to choose their own recovery lengths might be something worth considering.

Director of Performance, Sport and Health for Oriam

High intensity training is in vogue. It’s being prescribed in CrossFit gyms to exercise classes and interventions designed to help people battle diabetes and manage their weight. But what exactly is it? Generally speaking, the ‘exercise’ part is prescribed using resistance training (lifting weights or moving your body in space), cycling, running or rowing either outside or on specially designed ergometers. The intensity, which is how hard the exercise is or is perceived to be, is often individualised in an attempt to make the stimulus more effective, as is the length of each repetition, from 30 seconds to four minutes. It is fair to say that there has been a reasonable amount of research done around how best to prescribe these bouts of exercise, however, in contrast, relatively little regarding how best to schedule recovery periods. Whether we are involved in periods of intense work in our jobs or during exercise, how we recover is paramount to how effective we are likely to be.
Continue reading What can Blackpool donkeys teach us about exercise

10 Fun Facts About Our Beloved City!

Are you thinking of studying in Edinburgh? Is Clearing the route you are taking into University? Seize the opportunity with both hands and choose Edinburgh as your city to study in. As proud ‘Dunediners’ (the old name for Edinburgh is Dunedin) the SoSS Recruitment and Marketing team have created some fun little-known-facts about the city they live, learn and work in. If this is the city you choose to study in, Edinburgh is brilliant and here are some reasons why!

1: Edinburgh hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972: in the Usher Hall (which is a beautiful venue on Lothian Road).

2: Edinburgh appears in Grand Theft Auto! (Rockstar North have their Head Office here) and they featured the two bridges: the Forth Rail Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge in GTA: San Andreas, we wonder if they will update this with the new third bridge the Queensferry Crossing…?

Continue reading 10 Fun Facts About Our Beloved City!

The brain before the body

Dr Anna Sedda, Assistant Professor in our Psychology Department, recently published a paper on the importance of working with the mind as well as the body when managing recovery from spinal cord injury. Here she talks through the role of the brain in our perceptions of the body and its abilities.

You are your body. What a silly sentence, right? Of course we have a physical body that belongs to us and we use to drink coffee or, if you are not as lazy as myself, to go for a walk. The interesting thing is that our body is not only “physical”: we do also have a mental representation of it. This cognitive function is called body representation, and is ruled by our brain activity. Even more importantly, this body representation contributes to a great deal to our self-identity.
Continue reading The brain before the body

LINCS launches languages app

An exciting new application has been launched by our Languages and Intercultural Studies department, enabling new migrants to learn the language of their host country and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts; thereby potentially removing some barriers to integration. The Moving Languages app is the result of an EU-funded project led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy, with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as one of the partners.

Free to download on iOS and Android, the app is user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive, providing a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country.

Continue reading LINCS launches languages app

Banning disposable plastics – not a simple solution

Professor Kate Sang, Professor of Gender and Employment Studies and Disability in SoSS’ Business Management Department, was recently recruited to the Scottish Government expert panel on single use plastics. in this blog, she argues that “ban plastic straws” is a simplistic and potentially ineffectual tool in the fight against ocean pollution, which may harm and disadvantage disabled people.

Following the broadcast of Blue Planet 2, there has been an increasing interest amongst the general public on how to reduce ocean plastics. Images of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in his or her nostril, a seahorse carrying a cotton bud and marine mammals caught in fishing nets have understandably upset viewers. We can see increased efforts on behalf of communities to clear up their beaches, and charities such as Surfers against Sewage have seen increased interest in their work. Emma Shepherd reported in The Guardian that school children have been so moved by images of marine life in distress that they are putting pressure on their parents to change their use single use plastics.

Continue reading Banning disposable plastics – not a simple solution

SoSS Graduations 2018 – Celebrating Success Day 3

We’ve enjoyed sharing stories of our SoSS Graduation Prizewinners this week, and reflecting on the excitement of last week’s ceremonies.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing photos and videos of the graduates across all our four departments – so follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Today is the last in our Prizewinner series, but very much not the least. Both today’s featured students are from our Languages and Intercultural Studies Department. Anna Spence and Hana Smith, who have both graduated with first class degrees in Interpreting and Translating.

Anna Spence

Anna Spence came to Heriot-Watt University with no knowledge of British Sign Language, but is leaving with a first class MA (Hons) in Languages (Interpreting and Translating), having studied both German and BSL. She has also won the Thomas Braidwood Award, which is given to a student who has shown outstanding commitment to achieving excellence in BSL. Anna has participated in many opportunities to practice her interpreting and translating skills during her time at Heriot-Watt, including the CIUTI 2018 Annual Conference, and our own annual Multilingual Debate. In this short video, she talks about her studies and future plans.

Hana Smith

Hana Smith also graduated last week with a first class MA (Hons) in Languages (Interpreting and Translating), having studied French and Spanish. Hana had the honour of being selected to receive this year’s Fiona Watson Memorial Award. The Award keeps alive the memory and work of Fiona Watson, an alumni of Heriot-Watt who graduated with a first class honours degree graduate in languages. Fiona who was one of 22 peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003, while she was working as a Political Adviser to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.

The Award supports an outstanding languages student to take up an internship at the UN – which is what Hana is going on to do. We wish Hana well with this incredible opportunity and know she will go on to make a difference in the world with the languages skills she has developed at Heriot-Watt. Well done Hana.