As part of our Social Media Takeover, we now hear from Claire Mullins, an Administrative Assistant with Heriot-Watt University at their Orkney Campus.
After studying Music at University, Claire qualified as a Music Teacher and taught for seven years. After deciding she was wanted to change direction, she took time out and worked in Starbucks, before picking up some work as a supply Teacher. She then became an Exam Invigilator before moving into the role of Exams Officer which was a more administrative role, managing exams in schools and colleges. A move to Orkney prompted her next career move, and she initially managed a café before applying for her current role at Heriot-Watt University.
Can you describe a typical day in your job?
My role is to be the first point of contact in the Professional Services office at ICIT, Heriot-Watt University’s Orkney Campus. I deal with enquiries from students, staff and third parties. A typical day will consist of checking both my personal and the main office inbox, replying and adding any tasks to my list that need further work. I may then be helping current or future students with all kinds of matters, including accommodation, travel, local information, liaising with landlords and the community, or signposting them to the correct contact or department within the university for queries outside of my remit.
I also assist with arrangements for visits and events as needed, and I often design posters or information leaflets and put together packs for events such as student induction. Other tasks can include room bookings, collecting mail and distributing it, maintaining the library, helping staff with queries.
My job is very varied, but my main focus is to provide help to students and colleagues however I can.
How did you end up in this role?
I studied Music at University, then qualified as a Music Teacher. I taught Music and brass instruments for approximately seven years, then personal matters and a realisation that I was no longer enjoying the job, led me to deciding to leave the profession. I had wanted to be a teacher since childhood, so this was a huge blow.
I took some time out and then worked as a Barista/Supervisor at Starbucks for a few years, gradually also picking up bits of supply teaching. Eventually I returned to the school where I first taught Music, and did regular supply work there. This led to my biggest and best career change when I agreed to be an Exam Invigilator, as this then led to me taking on the role of Exams Officer and moving into an administrative role in the school. I loved this job, and managed exams in schools and colleges for about 13 years in total.
When I moved to Orkney after wanting to do so for about 25 years, I still worked in administration for a few months, but then again returned to the hospitality industry for 18 months as a supervisor in a café, until my current role was advertised: my application was successful, and I am back in the education sector again but this time in a University Postgraduate setting. I have been in my current job for almost two years now, and absolutely love it.
What is the best thing about your job?
Helping students to enjoy their time in Orkney and provide whatever information they need to succeed and be happy. Helping colleagues by being organised and providing information and administrative support.
What is the worst thing about your job?
It’s a much lower-paid role than I previously had. However there is also less responsibility, which means less stress!
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
What qualifications do you have?
2 A-levels (I dropped one after a year and failed one. Life is not over if you fail an exam!)
Bachelor of Music (Hons)
Postgraduate Certificate in Education
Would you recommend this job to young people, if so why?
Yes, I would recommend it to young people who enjoy being organised, working as part of a team but also having the flexibility to work under their own initiative. It’s a great way to be involved with lots of different things.
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