Edward Sheasby - St Andrews University
When Edward graduates from St Andrews University next year he’s hoping to springboard straight into his career. He’ll be looking for a company that has a clear progression path and professional prospects.
“I come from a small family business so I’ve been working all my life,” explains Edward, “I can’t stand being stagnant so the prospect of being cooped up in my student accommodation for months during lockdown, without anything to do or being able to boost my employability, was an area of real tension for me. When the virus broke I was also concerned that I might graduate into a recession but I’m feeling more optimistic about that now. The economy was doing alright before the outbreak so I’m hopeful the impacts won’t be as scarring as the economic crash in 2008. I’m keeping a positive outlook because the alternative is simply no good.”
Edward is quick to credit Baillie Gifford as the source of much of his recent positivity. While other companies were cancelling their internships, the Edinburgh-headquartered, responsible investment management company was busy reimagining their programme to keep the opportunity alive for their interns.
“To get the call from them to say they were going ahead with the internship was a massive relief, it really took a weight off my shoulders. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I was for their decision on that. Every last drop of employability you can get is worth its weight in gold and it really injected a lot of positivity into my outlook.”
The scheduled 12-weeks were condensed into four and done virtually but as Edward enthuses: “Those four weeks were chock-a-block and really rewarding. I got a real insight into every aspect of their business and that was amazing. It was a mix of experiences and opportunities - from formal talks and Q&As, to working in groups and learning from external professionals.”
One of those ‘external professionals’ was Susan, who Edward met when attending the Make Your Mark with Susan Room® summer school – a four module coaching programme designed to help Baillie Gifford’s interns secure their professional edge.
“Talk about hitting the ground running. Susan opened with a module on mindset and introduced us to this concept of the inner critic. I think most people are aware they have one but the way Susan approached it was quite novel - to get us to acknowledge and use it in a constructive way. I found this session quite challenging because it’s all about inward reflection but I got so much out of it. I now feel more confident about putting myself forward and dealing with those ‘unhelpfuls’ at the back of my mind. It’s certainly offered me a growth opportunity from a self-wellness point of view.”
It’s the type of learning that Edward is convinced all young people thinking about their future should have access to.
“These core soft skills and the practical tools Susan offers are totally non-existent on the university scene – in a shameful way because they are so important to employability. Universities need to rectify that. They need to help young people discover this aspect of themselves because it is as important as their technical skills. This is part of a person’s ability to make their mark. It’s even more important for our generation because social media is constantly feeding our insecurities. The inner critic, for example, is such a fundamental aspect of someone that Susan’s module could literally unlock a person.”
It’s something that Edward feels so strongly about that he’s continuing his work with Susan as an ambassador for the Make Your Mark with Susan Room® virtual summer school – an eight-hour programme taking place in August for 20 students.
“I’m already using Make Your Mark techniques. I recently presented and maximised the time I had because I was managing my nerves really well. There are just so many little things that all come together as part of this programme. These insights are severely lacking on university campuses and when powerfully combined with practical tools and techniques, they enable you to make an impact and Make Your Mark.
So when the sun sets on Edward’s summer and he resumes his studies at St Andrews will it have been a summer well spent?
“Without any hesitation, yes. Earlier this year I didn’t even know Baillie Gifford existed. But this whole experience has been very enlightening and reassuring. There are companies out there that have the right ideas. Baillie Gifford have great ideas, they’re fun and they’ve proven to me that they genuinely do things differently - more firms should follow their approach. When I entered my internship I was totally unclear on the who, where or what of financial management. Now I not only much better understand the financial systems, my first choice of employer upon graduation next year is Baillie Gifford.
It seems Baillie Gifford has left quite an impression on Edward, but Edward is now far more confident that he has the skills he needs to make his mark on them too.
Edward Sheasby is going into his fourth and final year at St Andrews University to achieve his geography degree. He is due to graduate in June 2021. He attended the Make Your Mark with Susan Room® summer school programme, as part of his internship with global responsible investment management company, Baillie Gifford, and is now a programme ambassador.
Edward is working with Susan and her other ambassadors on ways of making coaching available to other students. Watch this space.