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

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”

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.

SoSS Graduations 2018 – Celebrating Success Day 2

It was a great privilege to be involved in the SoSS graduations last week; to see our students looking so smart, with proud families by their side. All of our graduates have done so well, and we enjoyed hearing their stories of what they’re going to go on to do next (with the hope that we see quite a few back for post-grad studies!)

Yesterday we profiled two of our Accountancy, Economics and Finance prize-winning graduates, and today it’s the turn of Ammara Imtiaz, a Psychology graduate, and Yadah Maposa, who graduated in Business Law last week.

Ammara Imtiaz

Ammara Imtiaz, SoSS Graduate, who won the British Psychological Society prize this year!

Ammara graduated last week with a BSc Psychology with Human Health with Honours of the First Class – well done, Ammara! She also received the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award, which is given by the BPS to the student with the highest overall average. She spoke to our Marketing Officer, Daniel, about her time and studies at Heriot-Watt, and her surprise at receiving the award!


Yadah Maposa

Yadah Maposa, who graduated last week with a Master of Arts in International Business Management with Business Law with Honours of the First Class

We love hearing about the different ways in which SoSS students intend to go out there and change the world. And in this, Yadah Maposa definitely fits the bill. Yadah graduated last week with a first class MA in International Business Management with Business Law. She also won the Lord Penrose prize, which is awarded to the student with the highest mark in a Business Law programme. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to get Yadah’s video up here, but this is what she told us:

“My name’s Yadah Maposa and I studied International Business Management with Business Law and I’m also this year’s prizewinner for the Lord Penrose Prize, which I’m so honoured to have received. After university, I plan to start an NGO in Africa. I’m from Zimbabwe, so I really want to help children in that area who have not had as many opportunities as I have had. I believe that this university and my degree have fully equipped me to take on that mission.”

SoSS Graduations 2018 – Celebrating Success Day 1

Last week we celebrated with our 2018 graduands. The weather was variable, but excitement palpable across all four ceremonies on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 June. We caught up with a few of our prizewinners to congratulation them on their achievements and find out what the future holds. Today we’re featuring Gordon Jack and Zixuan Guo

Gordon Jack

Gordon Jack graduated last week with a first MA (Hons) Economics last week and was the Watt Club Medal for Economics, and spoke to us about his time and Heriot-Watt and his future plans.

Zixuan Guo

Heriot-Watt Graduate Zixuan Guo, who graduated on Wednesday 20 June

Zixuan Guo was awarded the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland Prize for the best dissertation mark in Accountancy and Finance. Zixuan was the first prizewinner to have come from a partner university in China. She tells us more in this short video.

From Brazil to Bonnie Scotland: Why Melissa Chose Heriot-Watt for her MSc in Managing Business Performance.

This is Melissa Marques, a student from Brazil who handpicked Heriot-Watt University for her Master’s Degree in Managing Business Performance from half way around the world.
She’s described her experience of studying at Heriot-Watt as ‘amazing’, which is fantastic to hear from someone doing a Master’s degree in managing performance!
Click on her image to read a Q and A about her time studying here over on our #LoveWattYouDo blog where our students write about their experiences at Heriot-Watt University.

What drove your decision to study an MSc in Managing Business Performance?

My decision to study the MSc Managing Business Performance course was based on gaining a holistic view of businesses to help me stand out in the marketplace and accelerate my career. I also believed studying an accredited course would strengthen my credibility in the field.

Why did you choose Heriot-Watt for your MSc?

I chose to study at Heriot-Watt because of its great reputation and its renowned academic body. The good reviews from alumni and the scholarship opportunities available also ensured me that Heriot-Watt was the right choice! Continue reading From Brazil to Bonnie Scotland: Why Melissa Chose Heriot-Watt for her MSc in Managing Business Performance.

The Heriot-Watt and Norway Connection: Deeper than the North Sea

This is Petter, a Norwegian student in his 4th year of MA Business and Finance at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Social Sciences.

We spoke to Petter to find out what it’s like to be a Norwegian student in Scotland and he told us why he chose to do his Business and Finance degree in Edinburgh and why he thinks it’s easy to feel at home here.

Read on to learn more about Petter’s plans for the future and discover which Norwegian VIP has links to Heriot-Watt University.

Continue reading The Heriot-Watt and Norway Connection: Deeper than the North Sea

From South to North through the lens of Annagul

Meet Annagul, an undergraduate student at Heriot-Watt University from Turkmenistan, studying MA (Hons) International Business Management with Marketing. Anna, who will be graduating in June, has a passion for photography and her skills gained our attention when she won the School of Social Science’s monthly Instagram competition #ScenesofSoSS. The competition encourages students, staff and alumni to share their favourite experiences of Heriot-Watt University and it gives us the chance to celebrate the talent that exists amongst the University community. At the end of the year, the winner from each month of the competition will feature in our official calendar.

We spoke with Anna for this #LoveWattYouDo blog and she explained how both her bachelor degree and hobby are helping to prepare her for the career she wants. Using her Business Management and venturing skills, she has already set up photography walking tours around Edinburgh, and is now in the process of launching an exhibition to display her grandfather’s sculptors to the public of Edinburgh.

We also took the opportunity to ask some questions about her studies, her life as a Heriot-Watt University student and her passion in the arts sector, read on to find out more.

I will never get tired of repeating that Edinburgh is such a fantastic city which inspires me a lot.

Continue reading From South to North through the lens of Annagul

There’s no place like home: Meet Business Management Student, Olivia

Heriot-Watt’s global reputation means we attract Master’s students from all over the world. This is something we’re really proud of as it provides a multi-cultural student population and lots of different perspectives in the classroom.

Still, it’s always reassuring to know that our reputation is just as strong, if not stronger, with those who live right on our doorstep in Edinburgh, our wonderful city of origin. This means we always have plenty of locals to share their insider knowledge of the city and give our truly global university a truly local feel.

Olivia studied Classics in Liverpool before returning home to complete her Master’s at our Edinburgh campus with the aim of gaining a degree that would help her launch a career.

With classes and exams finished, and her Dissertation project coming together for the summer months, we sat down with Olivia to reflect on her experience of coming back to study in Edinburgh for her Master’s degree.

Continue reading There’s no place like home: Meet Business Management Student, Olivia