Introducing Shaun Scott, International Festival and Events Management Graduate from Edinburgh Napier University.
Shaun shares his graduate journey and experience with us.
Hi, my names Shaun and I recently completed my undergraduate BA (Hons) degree in International Festival and Events Management at Edinburgh Napier University. I achieved a 1st class award, alongside a class medal. I chose to study this undergraduate course soon after completing my college course at the University of the Highlands and Islands in HNC Events whereby I received Distinction. This allowed me to progress automatically into year 2 of my bachelor’s degree at Napier.
A large part of why I wanted to study this course, was because I love exploring different cultural festivals. I come from the Shetland Islands and have always been fascinated by our cultural heritage, traditional folk festivals and community spirit. In school, we never got the chance to study cultures or festivals in depth – so I feel this is a major reason for why pursued this degree. I similarly feel this motivated me to pursue my current career path in Arts, Cultural and Festival research. I should also mention I am the first person in my extended family to pursue and achieve a degree.
Tell us about your university experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed my university experience. The first year was very tough, as I entered the second year of my degree; meaning I had to form new course friendships a little later than those who have started the course in first year. Once I found my ‘circle’ and fell in love with the course content, it all began to settle naturally. My favourite module on the course in second year was the practical module ‘events management’ whereby I had the chance to work with a team of other students to organise a live event within 6 months. Although we had some hiccups throughout our event planning process, our final event was a huge success, and I formed some lifelong friendships as a result.
In terms of extracurricular activities, I tried to balance this alongside my part time job(s), dating and study; which became a little bit of a hassle during deadline season(s). I was part of the Edinburgh University K-pop Society, where I performed at live events. We used to have a degree (for second year) and this was a positive experience – none the less.
I made the most of my university experience, by making friends with people on other courses, aside to my own. I similarly bonded with my university professors, who I can’t thank enough for their help throughout the years. I really learned a lot from socialising with people, alongside travelling to countries outside the UK when I could / afford.
I also undertook a 6-8 month work placement/internship within my 3rd year of my degree, whereby I had the amazing chance to work with The List Ltd. – a supplier of UK-wide listings (ranging from festivals, events to music and entertainment) information to a number of organisations and publications. I acted as their Events and Promotions Management Intern, alongside later becoming the Guest List
Manager and Artist and Stage Manager. My main duties involved me researching businesses, designing events and promoting competitions and offers via the website. I also got to help publish a wide variety of festival magazines. Some of the events I put on include: Hot 100 2018, Eating and Drinking Guide Parties 2019, List Festival Party 2019, CanadaHub Party 2019, List Festival Fringe Party 2019. Some of these events saw thousands of guests; for which I was in charge of when acting as VIP guest manager.
The List Festival Party 2019 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUTGXx1IHZo
Some other professional experiences I undertook alongside my studies included:
Event Support Assistant at Edinburgh First (working mainly at McEwan Hall whereby I got to hold special events for celebrities such as Susan Boyle and George Clooney.) Sadly, I was supposed to arrange an event for David Attenborough this year, however, covid has impacted our schedule; this has been pushed to summer 2021.
Entertainment Producer at BT Murrayfield Stadium – organising elements for Rugby Seasons based at SRU BT Murrayfield Edinburgh. I was part of the Event360 team and worked with a variety of stakeholders at rugby matches. Much of the work I did was sworn to secrecy due to the formality of the events/projects, however, I can share that I was able to work with / supervise entertainment elements involving the British Army, Red Chili Pipers and Royal Marines.
In my 4th year, I decided to focus my research on Esports events and stakeholder management. I later published this research and was able to pitch my ideas to industry experts.
What have you been up to since graduating?
Over the summer, I decided to take a short holiday to Belfast (when covid spiked down) which was a great getaway for me and my boyfriend (who also studies). I sort of treated this as a reward for getting my 1st class honours; as I never got the chance to go home this year. I was asked to speak on behalf of graduate insights at Edinburgh Napier for 4th year students which was a massive honour. I decided I also wished to pursue a master’s degree because I would like to pursue a research career within Arts, Festival and Cultural studies. The master’s degree is at Queen Margaret University, where I now study Arts, Festival and Cultural Management.
I would eventually like to pursue a PhD and become a lecturer within these fields. I feel my graduate experience has been positive, whereby I still feel value from my degree (as I was able to develop a wide range of hard and soft skills / alongside interpersonal skills). I don’t think anyone expected our graduation to not have a physical ceremony this year. It was a real disappointment not having a ceremony; however, I have been promised by Edinburgh Napier that we get a ceremony once covid-19 dies down. I keep in contact with my course friends, who have gone on to either further study or now work in professional areas of their choosing. I now also tutor undergraduate students, whereby I assist with essay/report writing skills. I am similarly volunteering as a Health and Safety Coordinator on a project titled Fairlich Art Exhibition.
Why did you decide to undertake a Masters Degree, and how was the application process?
I found the application process for my master’s degree a little more challenging than my undergraduate. I had to personally wait for my undergraduate parchment to arrive before I could be accepted on to the course; which this year it took longer than expected due to no official graduation (In person ceremony) thanks to covid-19.
I decided to undertake my masters as I believed it the perfect time to extend my knowledge of the arts, festivals and cultural sector; how covid is and has impacted the sector. Similarly, the master should “I say” give me an edge when applying to not only professional level / managerial positions but similarly PhD programmes (which are extremely competitive among the arts and humanities).
From your experience, what advice would you give students, new graduates or aspiring event professionals entering the event industry?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. Take life as it comes and enjoy your journey throughout your college/uni experience(s). I would recommend, if you can, work within a field of your choice aside from uni as it not only gives you a source of income, and new skills – but similarly extends your professional network/friend groups.
If you are aspiring to follow a career path within events, festivals or tourism related; I would highly recommend undertaking a degree. You gain the perfect balance between theoretical and practical knowledge, which I believe is advantageous when applying for jobs / future studies.
For those wishing to not pursue a degree, I would therefore recommend undertaking voluntary work to supplement experience ‘per say ‘to separate yourself from others in this competitive industry. Festivals and Events are a competitive area to break into; as it relies on not only practical experience but some form of theoretical understanding (the implications of events and such…)
For anyone interested in my chosen field of Arts, Festival and Cultural Management, professional history or similar. Please reach out and I am very happy to help. I also tutor, so please reach out about this if you are looking for help relating to your events courses.
Thank you Shaun for sharing your graduate story and event journey with us!
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