Graduate stories: from Bristol graduate to External Communications and Relationships Manager at STEM Women.

Pam McGee is a 2005 Bristol University graduate who studied English Literature BA.

Pam is now the External Communications and Relationships Manager at STEM Women. She has kindly written this blog to tell us about her experiences at University and working for STEM Women.

A picture of Pam smiling

“I can’t tell you a motivational story about how I always wanted to work in PR and communications, because I never knew I wanted to – it just happened. But I can give you one key piece of advice which is to engage with your university Careers Service – something which, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t do during my time at Bristol.

Looking back, I know I would really have benefited from careers support to help me develop commercial skills, explore options for work or further study, grow my network and perhaps even identify a mentor – something which I really wish I’d had. That said, I had an amazing time at Bristol; I loved the vibrancy of the city and met some truly wonderful people who have become lifelong friends. I also learned that success isn’t a straight line, and that you needn’t feel under pressure to land your ‘dream job’ straight after graduation.

As a first-generation student from one of the most deprived areas in the UK, I wasn’t familiar with the culture around university. I knew I needed to study hard, and I worked in hospitality to support myself financially, but there was a big gap around my understanding of career development. It took me longer than my peers to understand how I could get involved in university life outside my course, and how this might grow my skills.

Eventually, as well as joining the Art Society, I started writing for the University newspaper, Epigram. Doing this really increased my confidence in my writing skills and self-expression. But I had no idea it would be worthwhile mentioning these things on my CV (pro tip: do this!).

I’d also never heard of such things as internships or placements and didn’t realise I could have been gaining work experience and exploring the kind of industries I might want to go into. In my final year, friends suddenly started mentioning graduate schemes or postgraduate studies, but this was yet more unfamiliar language (in my defence, we didn’t have instant access to the internet back then!).

After graduation, I worked my way through roles in finance, regional economic development, and higher education, narrowing down my interests and experiencing different working cultures. What I lacked in networks and guidance, I made up for in dedication and teamwork (whilst simultaneously raising a family). Eventually, and somewhat ironically, I joined a university careers team as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead, supporting underrepresented students to access careers support and opportunities.

STEM Women presenting to an audience.

I absolutely loved working in EDI with a careers focus, and this led to my current role as External Communications and Relationships Manager at STEM Women, an organisation which helps to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM industries through networking and careers events aimed at students and graduates (check them out!).

My role is really varied, from hosting panel discussions at our events to PR and marketing, to delivering skills-development workshops for students, and lots of writing! I now have a job which I love, utilising the skills I developed at university, and working in an area I’m passionate about – equality of opportunity and helping students grow their networks.

My tips:

  • Engage with the Careers Service, the earlier the better! They can help you to develop skills, explore career options and gain work experience in a huge number of ways.
  • Grow your network – update your LinkedIn profile and connect with / follow those who inspire you. Attend careers fairs and networking events to make industry connections face-to-face.
  • Don’t give up. Success isn’t a straight line and what might feel like a setback is actually a learning opportunity that could lead to something great!