Final reflections: being a 2021 Saltire Scholar

Joshua Crofts
Monday 15 November 2021

The Saltire Scholarship is an internship programme offering university students in their penultimate year of study commercially valuable, paid internship opportunities in Scotland and all over the world.

Here a St Andrews Saltire Ambassador talks about their experience of this programme, and their plans for the future.

As I approach the end of my internship, I truly cannot believe how fast the time has flown by! For my final reflections I am going to discuss my experience as a Saltire scholar this summer and look forward into the future. Being a Saltire Scholar has been an invaluable experience which has changed the way I perceive my future goals. It has given me exposure to a professional work environment, success stories and entrepreneurial ambitions. This new awareness has directly and positively impacted my own goals and view of future opportunities.

Reflections on this summer

This summer I worked as a Health and Safety support intern within the Capital Delivery HSE team at Network Rail (Scotland). I was supported by my key contact, James, and the wider team throughout my internship. I was lucky enough to gain exposure to different parts of the organisation and learn how varied Health and Safety can be. For example, some days I spent going along to meetings which focused on the plans for construction of new projects. At these meetings I gained an appreciation for the many different aspects of the planning process and the high-quality management that these projects required. Other days, I learned how incidents were reported and followed up, as well as the learning which was taken from these events to continually maintain and improve working practices. Last week, I learned about new devices and technology which can be used to give advance warnings or set limits on machines to improve the safety of people on site. Ultimately, this experience was very varied and gave me an interesting insight into the railway industry, which is a lot more complex than I had realised before the internship.

My internship experience has also been entirely virtual. Although in some ways this has presented new challenges and a few IT hiccups, I also believe that it has given me a unique and very useful set of experiences and new skills. Most importantly, I have developed my networking skills to be able to create relationships virtually, and I now feel confident in virtual meetings. I have also gained experience of maintaining a good work-life balance while working from home and have appreciated Network Rail’s positive approach to working from home. Overall, this experience, alongside the Saltire Scholar events and network, has widened my horizons and given me new awareness of potential careers and opportunities.

Looking forward

I have gained exposure to success stories and entrepreneurial values which have positively impacted my future goals. I have further developed my own entrepreneurial spirit and values, meaning I am more empowered moving forward. In September, I started an MLitt in Management at the University of St Andrews. I believe that I will take what I have learnt this summer into this course and beyond. Although I don’t currently plan on pursuing a career in the railway industry, this experience has made me appreciate that there are a range of opportunities for me to explore after my time at university. With an entrepreneurial mindset and supportive network, I am able to challenge myself and set myself more ambitious and forward-thinking future goals. I am proud to call myself a Saltire Scholar and to have been part of such a driven and inspiring cohort.

If you are interested in reading about other experiences of the Saltire Scholarship, please visit Entrepreneurial Scotland’s scholar blogs. To get further information about the Saltire Scholarship and to apply, see their become a Saltire Scholar page.

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