The SIE Interns are an unstoppable bunch – they’re talented, enthusiastic and work hard to champion SIE at their local university or college. We’re sad to be waving off our 2015-16 Interns this week (although our college interns will stick around until May) and it got us thinking, what do SIE interns do once they move on? We sent three of our current interns to find out and we’ll be sharing their findings over the next three weeks!
Intern: Laura MacDonald
Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Interviewee: Alice Rawsthorne
I had the pleasure of meeting with Alice Rawsthorne the founder of 2 The Kitchen, an enterprise which creates recipes that can be cooked by two people, based on a fun ‘team cooking’ concept. Alice was an SIE intern at the University of Edinburgh for two academic years (2012-2014). I sat down with her to find out what happened next.
What was the best thing about being an SIE intern?
I would say the best thing is meeting new people: the other interns, students and entrepreneurs. I loved hearing their business ideas and found it inspirational to see the passion behind each one.
What have you been doing since?
I have been really busy since leaving SIE, trying out a little bit of everything. Between third and fourth year at uni I completed an internship through the Saltire Foundation Scholarship Programme, which was an incredible opportunity and definitely one I would recommend to penultimate year students. In January of my final year, I started my business 2 the Kitchen. It felt like the right time, as I still had the security of being at university and all the support that goes with that.
Now, I’m delighted to be back in Edinburgh in preparation for the next adventure: a full time position with bespoke catering and events company, Ginger Snap. This is essentially my ideal job, as it combines my love of food with the opportunity to train in events management with a truly incredible and entrepreneurial company.
Did your SIE internship help you to start your own business?
Absolutely! As a student, you may think that people don’t want to hear your idea. The internship made me feel more comfortable and confident when approaching the business advisors and other relevant organisations about setting up 2 The Kitchen. I knew that Tom (McGuire) would be honest and realistic, and would be able to point me in the right direction with regards to funding and contacts in the industry.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Undoubtedly the flexibility it brings and the opportunity to be creative. I have never been particularly artistic in the sense of painting or drawing, but food has always been my passion and a way to relieve stress. The whole process of creating a presentable dish and feeling the sense of achievement is very therapeutic.
Would you encourage other students to apply for the internship?
Definitely! The internship is very much a two way process; the more effort you put into it the more you get out. SIE opens doors in a way that other jobs don’t. The alliances between SIE and similarly-minded organisations create more opportunities. There is no better opportunity to meet people in all sorts of different industries and make invaluable contacts.
Would you encourage other students to become an entrepreneur?
Yes, although there seems to be a bit of a stigma around the word ‘entrepreneur’. I think that too often people only associate it with an image of a multi-millionaire businessperson with a number of enterprises. I would encourage students to take part in any innovative activity, whether it is launching a business, being entrepreneurial in their existing workplace or using their skills to benefit a charity.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you?
Try everything, talk to everyone, and get in touch with others already in the industry you want to break into. Not everyone is competition – people want to help!
Would you do anything differently?
Probably not. I am glad I have taken my time to decide what I want to do, as it has allowed me to experience and explore so much more than if I had jumped straight into a grad job after university.
If you would like to become an SIE Intern for the next academic year, visit our website for all of the details!
This article first appeared in Ignite Magazine, Issue 14.