When I Grow Up I Want to be an… | Acquisitions Consultant

blog, lists & guides, writings & musings

This week is the turn of Athena Collectiv founding member, let’s find out what she does for a day job…

QNameKim SteeleQ1I wanted to be a paediatric nurse until I realised people might be sick on me. Then I wanted to be a primary school teacher until I realised kids might be sick on me. Then I settled for an interior designer. 100% because I was obsessed with Changing Rooms.Q2I am a Property Acquisitions Consultant for a global retailer.Q3 Basically, I work for a company who always needs big sites and it’s my job to find them, buy them and then a new store gets built on the site. I also manage their existing portfolio and get to travel the length and breadth of Scotland to do my job!Q4I’ve been in this current role since January 2017 but I’ve been in property for 7 years now – working my way up to where I am now. Q5I left school at 16, got an art foundation at college, went to university and studied Interior Architecture and when I left uni, I got a job working for a property investment and development company. It was supposed to be a stop-gap until I could get an industry job in interiors but turns out I was pretty well suited to property.

I worked all through school, college and university and I think that’s really valuable to get some experience in the working world – even if it’s not in the industry you want to be in! I’ve done everything from working in a hotel to an ordnance survey company. Q6Go for it! I wish I’d known at school that there was such a thing as a property surveyor (I’m not qualified in that but a lot of people who do my job are). Whatever you want to do in life just go for it – especially when you’re young. There are so many more jobs out there than the list they tell you about at school!Q7I do love what I do but if I could open a wee sandwich shop tomorrow, I would! Q8Here’s me with all my maps of Scotland 😉


If you want to find out more, email us at athenacollectiv@gmail.com

When I Grow Up I Want to be a… | Research Associate

blog, lists & guides, writings & musings

QNameHolly LithgowQ1When I was at primary school, I wanted to be a singer or an actor. I went to drama club, spent lunchtimes choreographing dance routines to B*Witched and Britney Spears and dreamed of being famous.

At secondary school I joined the debate team to flirt with a boy and briefly toyed with the idea of being a lawyer. I quickly realised that neither debating nor the boy was for me.

My family is very medical. This, coupled with the fact that Biology and Chemistry were my strongest subjects, led to a fair amount of expectation that I’d do Medicine at university. My not-quite-excellent Higher results thwarted this plan, so I applied to do Biology with the vague notion that I might apply to Medicine as a postgrad. I realised pretty quickly that I didn’t actually have any interest in Medicine and would be terrible doctor, so although it seemed like the end of the world at the time, I’m forever grateful for that C in Higher Maths! Q2I’m a Research Associate for an Executive Search firm that specialises in academia. Q3I work for a little company that partners with universities to help them fill high-level and niche vacancies. Basically, I head-hunt extremely intelligent, interesting and accomplished people. This involves visiting the university and meeting with all the key people to find out what their ‘ideal candidate looks like’, searching globally for people whose research, qualifications, experience etc match what our client is looking for, and then managing the interview and appointment process.

A lot of my work is online but I also spend time talking to and visiting potential candidates and our client universities.

Since the company I work for is very small (in the UK at least, there are larger offices in the US and Australia), it has quite a start-up feel about it and I have lots of additional little responsibilities such as pulling together marketing materials to really ‘sell’ each position to potential candidates, and managing our website and LinkedIn page. Q4Almost two years, I joined the company in October 2015. Q5To be perfectly honest, I kind of fell into my current job. I was lucky enough that a friend from university was leaving the company at the same time as I was moving back to Edinburgh and looking for a new job. She put me in touch with my now boss and the rest, as they say, is history!

After leaving university I worked in NHS Internal Audit. It was not a dream job, by any stretch of the imagination, and is not at all related to my current job. However, it did help to build my confidence when talking to senior and important people, as well as giving me experience of managing my time on multiple projects and meeting deadlines, all of which is useful in my current job. Q6When working for a small company, it’s important to be confident in your own abilities, you are capable of anything you put your mind to! I get asked fairly frequently to do things that I’ve never done before and that I have no idea how to do, and I found that pretty terrifying when I first started! Now, rather than worrying about not knowing what to do, I try to think of them as opportunities to learn something new. I’ve gained lots of new skills and knowledge because I’ve said ‘I’ll have a go, I’m sure I can figure it out’, rather than ‘I don’t know what to do’.

My job is fairly niche, but I think a knowledge and interest in academia and the university sector is vital. I’ve also found that the scientific and medical lingo I picked up during my Biology degree has been really useful, as a lot of the vacancies we work on are for scientific and medical academics. Q7That is an excellent question! I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up!

I often think that having a more creative job and being my own boss would be amazing – being a photographer, or a wedding planner, or owning a lovely little shop which sells lovely little things. However, I think I probably romanticise such jobs, and in reality I’m sure it would be incredibly hard work and I don’t think I would like the potential financial insecurity of being completely responsible for generating my income very month.

For now, I am very content with my job and plan to keep doing it as long as I enjoy it. I see lots of opportunities to progress and grow within my company, so I’d like to see where that could take me. Q8I work from home the vast majority of the time, so attached is a selfie in my ‘home office’.


Want to find out more? Email athenacollectiv@gmail.com

When I Grow Up I Want to be a… | Copywriter

blog, lists & guides, writings & musings

QNameSally TorodeQ1A vet

Q2CopywriterQ3Writing for marketing and advertising

Q46/7 years

Q5Part hard work, part skill, part luck

Q6It’s high pressured and can be boring, but it can also be rewarding

Q7My dream job would be a playwright

Q8No – sorry!

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A… | Mental Health Worker

blog, lists & guides, writings & musings

This week, following World Mental Health Day, we have a guest post from Angela, who has been working in mental health for all of her adult life. Q1This seems to be a question that lots of young people are asked and I remember saying in response ‘I want to be a teacher’. When I think back to it now, it was based on the positive experiences I had at primary school. My memories of primary school are really happy, and the teachers there were warm, encouraging and supportive. I don’t recall having any idea about what it would involve or making any serious attempts to find out how I would go about this, so it was a pretty flimsy idea. When I went to high school, all such notions had left me and I found myself probably a bit like a lot of other young people at the time, not having a clue about what to do and not being fully aware of what the options were. I left school at 16, became a junior in an office for a while before deciding that I wanted to go into nursing around the age of 20. I decided on mental health nursing as a field, partly because my mum worked in this field but also because there were mental health and addictions issues within my family and I wanted to know more about it. Q2Funnily enough, I am now in Higher Education. I am a Nurse Lecturer, my field is mental health nursing. I work with both adult and mental health nursing students to promote good mental health care and treatment. Q3The main part of my job is teaching pre-registration nurses during their 3 year degree programme, although I do also teach on post-registration courses and supervise MSc students too. I have responsibility for co-ordination of modules within the curriculum, which involves planning and delivery, assessment and evaluation of these to ensure the learning outcomes are met and the students have the necessary knowledge and skills to nurse safely, effectively and with care. Nursing is a practice based role, meaning that nurses learn both in university and in clinical placement. Mentors generally provide most of the support to students whilst they are on placement, but part of my role is to ensure that I maintain good links with our clinical partners and ensure the students have access to high quality learning environments, this involves me visiting practice areas regularly. I also take on the role of personal lecturer – meaning I support individual students on their learning journey and provide academic and pastoral support where required. Q4I have been in this particular role for 4 years now. Q5In some ways, teaching was always an aspect of my role, albeit in a less formal capacity, for example, mentoring student nurses, facilitating anxiety management groups, or providing diagnosis education to people and their families. When I did my nurse training, registered nurses were not graduate and exited the programme with a certificate, so I didn’t go to university until much later in my career. I found that I really enjoyed the learning environment and could see the difference it made to my confidence and practice. Although I didn’t really plan to go into higher education as a career, following completion of a Masters degree and an opportunity to participate in a ‘training for trainers course’ in which I would be expected to train others; other opportunities opened up for me. This was probably the turning point when I started to think about education as a possible career path. I made links with my local university and was invited to do some teaching in a supported way which allowed me to try out the role. From there, I took on seconded part-time post before making the leap to a full-time role. Q6There are a few mandatory requirements, for example you must be a registered nurse, you need to have a relevant Masters degree (increasingly a PhD or willingness to work towards one is a requirement) and it is desirable to have a higher education teaching qualification, but this can be achieved whilst in post.

Being a competent, capable and credible practitioner is important in this role which in part comes from your nursing practice, so having a good few years and a range of  different experiences under your belt is very useful. Look for opportunities to undertake education/teaching roles within your current position to gain experience for example mentoring students, teaching skills, being involved in inter-professional learning, perhaps making links with the university to shadow or do a secondment to get a feel for the role is helpful in making a decision about whether this is the right move for you. Being politically aware, keeping up to date with current research and the future direction in your field is vital.Q7I love my job, so feel very privileged that I get to do it and can’t imagine doing something else at this time. However, if I could do anything it would be something creative – baking, pottery, quilt making – something with a pretty end product that I could sell in a little shop where I would sit, drink tea, read and chat to anyone who came by. Q8




Thank you to Angela for taking time out of your day to write for us!


When I grow up I want to be a… | Biologist

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Remember careers advice at school? When they’d roll out some old, unrelatable, “teacher” to tell you what to do with your life? Well, we’re doing careers advice – the Athena way! In our weekly feature, we’ll spotlight one of our members – what they do and how they got there. Let’s go smash those glass ceilings, shall we?

QNameMary Westwood.

Q1Neil deGrasse Tyson has this quote, “the great thing about being a scientist is you never have to grow up.” I think this is entirely true – especially for biologists. When I was little I spent all of my time outdoors, and as an adult, I’ve done a lot of the same. I haven’t lost the curiosity I had for nature as a child, I’ve just honed my skills as a scientist throughout my education.

I’m not sure I had a firm grasp on science as a potential career when I was young, but I did know that if I could explore the world like the people I saw on National Geographic, I wanted to pursue that. My goal has shifted a bit as I’ve gotten older in that I would ultimately like to become a professor.

Q2I am a biologist who is interested in the evolution and ecology of vectors and vector-borne diseases (a vector is an organism, such as a tick or mosquito, that can transmit pathogens). Currently, I’m working towards a PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh.

Q3I get to think and read a lot about evolution and ecology, create hypotheses, test those hypotheses, and interpret the results. For my Masters, I focused on the disease ecology of ticks in the upper-midwestern United States. For my PhD, I am working towards understanding the evolution of biological rhythms in malaria infection.

As a postgraduate student, I get to attend scientific conferences which allow myself and other scientists from around the world to share, discuss, and critique each others ideas. I have also had the opportunity to teach freshman biology laboratory courses as a graduate assistant, which can be a lot of fun.

Q4I am just starting my PhD this fall, so I haven’t been working on this project for long. I completed my Masters, which took two years, this summer. Before that I completed a BSc in Biology.

Q5The long answer would be that I’ve been working towards this point essentially my whole life. But, for the sake of brevity, I completed a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Biology, then was accepted into the PhD in Evolutionary Biology program here in Edinburgh. As a Bachelors student I involved myself in numerous research projects and worked as a tutor for biology courses, which helped to set me up for my Masters and Doctorate. Generally, it is not enough to simply complete coursework to become a successful postgraduate researcher; doing undergraduate research can really give you a leg-up with applying for Masters or Doctorates and will give you insight into whether or not research is something you actually want to pursue.

Q6If you want to be a scientist, you have to be truly passionate about the research you are pursuing. Otherwise, the likelihood of your success is really slim (plus, if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it!). Academia is a really long and hard road to go down. It involves years and years of school with minimal pay and a lot of long nights in the lab or long days in the field. I’ll be 30 when I finish my PhD, and I’ve likely got another few years as a post-doc after that before I can obtain a professorship.

On the flip side, there are a myriad of perks to being an academic. You get an honest opportunity to follow your passions, be creative, and create your own schedule. As a scientist you are constantly challenging yourself to grow and learn new and exciting things. It is so cool to realise that at the end of a project, you may have made a discovery that, for a short time, you are the only person in the world who knows.

Q7.jpgI would do exactly what I am doing right now. I feel comfortable in saying I am working towards exactly what I want in life. My long-term goal is to become a professor at a University and be involved in both teaching and research. It is a good idea to consider careers beyond academia (because professorships can be really hard to come by), however, I have to admit I haven’t put much time into thinking about other career paths.

Q8To clarify what the heck is going on, I am using forceps to remove a tick from a tick drag (a tick drag is a white cloth used to collect ticks in the field)!

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 3.57.20 PM

Want to find out more? Email us: athenacollectiv@gmail.com

Body Positive | Why it’s okay to binge Netflix in your pants eating cupcakes

blog, writings & musings


New Years’ resolutions: I’m convinced they exist solely to make us feel inadequate.

Every year people worldwide, myself included, step into the new year with such great expectations. For me it’s always losing those extra pounds, dusting off my running shoes (again), banishing carbs and cocktails for carrots and kale, and not forgetting those French lessons I’d always promised myself I’d take. But this year, I decided to go rogue. Instead of focusing my energy on everything I’m not, and everything I want to be; self love and appreciation were my resolutions. I’m fast approaching 30, and I figure, I’ve been criticising myself for years and it’s never worked, so maybe I can try loving myself for who I am, not who I could be. The likes of Ashley Graham, Kristina Yeo and Sarah Tripp are just some of the body positive activists who inspire me and millions of girls with their confidence and unapologetic posts showing themselves, their real selves, irrespective of size or weight. Confidence is sexy.


A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on

As teenagers we were bombarded with image after image of perfect bodies in the media. We still are. Images so extensively filtered and retouched, that it’s only now, fifteen plus years later, I realise how unobtainable they actually were. These are our formative years. Our bodies are changing, we’re discovering sex and relationships, and daily, young women are exposed to articles suggesting that anything other than those images in the magazine is not beautiful. This coupled with the shamefully unrealistic portrayal of women and of sex in porn, it’s no wonder only 11% of girls worldwide would consider themselves to be beautiful (Dove; Real Truth About Beauty Campaign).

So, how can we change this?

How can we inspire our daughters to smash through glass ceilings, when we ourselves are haunted by what is reflected in the glass in front?

I’m a confident woman. I’m bold, opinionated and headstrong, and most importantly I’m
unapologetic with it. However, one shouldn’t confuse self confidence with body confidence. It’s so easy to hide your insecurities behind self deprecating humour and a big personality. I’m still working on my body confidence and realistically I always will be. But for me, it’s not about liking what you see in the mirror every single day, but rather how you deal with the days you feel less than your best self.

Health is not just about what you’re eating. Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Sure, some days I’ll eat that salad and go to the gym, but other days I’ll stay in my pants, eating a cupcake, watching Gossip Girl reruns on Netflix.

Life is about balance.

I’ve stopped focusing my energies on what other people are doing. Peonies and sunflowers look nothing alike, yet no one would say one was any less beautiful. Instead
it’s all about the things I do love about my body, the things I love about me, my accomplishments, and wishes for the future. It’s equally important to lift each other up. Seeing beauty in others is easier than seeing it in ourselves. They say if someone hears something negative enough times, they start to believe it. This works both ways…

So wear that bikini to the beach. You already have a beach body! Tell your friend she looks hot. Accept compliments, and believe them! Be naked (a lot) and enjoy it. Become reacquainted with your body. Sleep naked, eat naked, have sex naked!! You don’t need validation from anyone to feel good about yourself, and realistically, the men worth being naked with really aren’t focused on how your tummy may curve a certain way. So Wear the nice lingerie, take all the selfies, and be confident!

As I get older I’m learning to love my body. It’s not perfect, but then whose is?!

I’d rather make an impact on your heart and your soul than your eyes. I’m a thoughtful, intelligent and attractive woman. A fiery heart and a wicked brain, that happens to
come in a pretty nice package.

Title Image Credit: Abbey Gallagher 

Maggie’s Culture Crawl

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Maggie’s Culture Crawls are back and this year they need your help to make the fundraising events the biggest and best yet.

Maggie’s annual Culture Crawls are part night-walks, part cultural adventure.  The fun, Friday night experiential events are also the prefect way to support Maggie’s, the cancer charity which offers free practical and emotional support to people with cancer, as well as family and friends, through a network of 21 Centres across the UK and beyond.

Built in the grounds of specialist NHS hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are warm and welcoming places, with qualified professionals on hand to offer a programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing. Maggie’s offers visitors an array of services to help them in day to day life, from practical advice about benefits and eating well to drop in with expert cancer support specialists.   

The evidence based programme of support also includes stress management advice as well as courses for those who have been newly diagnosed and for those who have finished treatment. All in a calm, uplifting environment provided by the centres – each of which is uniquely and individually designed to reduce stress and anxiety.

Amazingly, Maggie’s relies almost entirely on voluntary donations to run this network of Centres offering essential support to help people live well with cancer. These funds are used with the aim of making the biggest difference possible to those that visit our Centres, and that’s why the funds raised by those who take part in the Maggie’s Culture Crawls are so important.

The walks, which vary in length but cover a maximum distance of 10 miles, are fun for anyone over the age of 16, with something for everyone along the way. Whichever city you choose to take part in, you’ll be getting exclusive access to amazing buildings around your city, you’ll be able to enjoy cultural surprises and taste delicious food and drink that has been inspired by the nutritional support available in our Centres.

This year, Maggie’s Culture Crawl Edinburgh is taking place on the 22nd of September, with Maggie’s Culture Crawl Glasgow following closely behind on the 29th of September. We would love to have you along to join us in support of Maggie’s. You can click here, to find a Culture Crawl near you and find out more about how you can be involved.

Maggie’s Website
Culture Crawl
Maggie’s Culture Crawl Facebook
Maggie’s Culture Crawl Twitter

Sustainable Fashion | Slowing Fast Fashion Down

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The way that our society approaches clothing has changed drastically over the last 20-30 years. The days of the local shoemaker, dressmaker, milliner, and ‘Sunday Best’ have long been replaced by the buy-and-discard culture that came along with the phenomenon known as fast fashion, and the industry is now the second-most polluting in the world, after oil.
"Fast fashion" refers to the ever-increasing speed at which designs move from the catwalk to the high street. Whilst some might rejoice at what seems to be the ‘democratisation’ of fashion, because the average consumer has gained the ability to access once-unattainable high-end trends and ‘get the look, for less’, the price we pay for this new system goes far beyond what is written on the price-tag.
The true cost of these low quality garments lies in the social and environmental degradation they are fuelling, from their inception to their disposal. The mass manufacturing of commercial clothing requires an enormous amount of energy, produces both toxic chemical and textile waste, and, more often than not, ignores international labour and fair-wage standards. Because of the acceleration of the fashion cycle, clothes are being discarded after only one or two seasons, ending up in landfill, where they will likely remain for the rest of time, due their inability to degrade.
While this is all quite demoralizing, there are many things that we as consumers can do to combat fast fashion, none of which necessarily require any drastic lifestyle changes – even for the most severe shopping addicts among us.
We present to you Sarah Lazarovic’s ‘Buyerarchy’ of Needs:

© Sarah Lazarovic

This 'buyerarchy of needs' is not intended as a strict set of rules that one must follow in order to become a sustainable and ethical fashionista, but rather as a tool to help us become more conscious as consumers. By simply asking yourself if you will wear an item at least thirty times before you buy it, you will save yourself the age-old problem of having a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear. By simply ‘shopping’ our own closets, those of our friends, and from thrift or consignment stores before we look to the high street, we can save millions of tonnes of clothes from going to landfill each year, which thus lessens the substantial environmental impact of each item, all the while still getting ‘the look, for less’!

If you had not already guessed, we are very passionate about sustainable and ethical fashion, and we are thus very excited to be hosting the upcoming clothing swap in collaboration with Athena Collectiv. You can find out more about this on our Facebook event or on meetup.com.

In the meantime, if you are interested in discovering more about the complex and diverse topic of sustainable and ethical fashion, head on over to Edinburgh-based blogger Ruth MacGilp’s website, where you will find her recently launched, comprehensive, and easy-to-digest resource on the subject! Additionally, we are hosting a screening of the film The True Cost, an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes, look at the fashion industry, at the Grassmarket Centre at 7.30pm on Monday 28 August, so come on down!
Instagram: @curated_r      @jai.cycle
Facebook: Curated R X j’ai cycle      
                    Curated R


Finding My Tribe and How You Can Too

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It had been nearly three years since I had left behind the cobbles of Auld Reekie for the coastline of Saint Andrews; home of golf, William and Kate, and Janetta’s Gelateria. Leaving Saint Andrews was somewhat bittersweet, but for me and my friends, our studies were finally finished and we were leaving Fife life to make our place in the world. I had bagged the dream job and I was coming back to Edinburgh!

I am incredibly fortunate to have a tight group of friends in Edinburgh, and of course my beloved forever friends from back home and Saint Andrews, who each bring so much love and laughter to my life. However, as we get older, somehow life gets in the way;  marriage, mortgages, and babies naturally replace club nights, festivals, and jäger bombs, and seeing friends regularly becomes more difficult.  And so I decided that making some new friends would help me in fully embracing life in the city I was to call home.

We live in an age of technology. At the swipe of a finger you can have a pizza, a taxi, or a soulmate delivered directly to your doorstep, and although convenient and fun(!), in this fast paced society we live in, making real friendships is not so easy, especially as we get older and our lives even busier.

Naturally, as a child or even as a younger adult, life and circumstance mean making new friends is easy; be it over the sandbox at primary school, or in the dorms during Freshers Week. But making friends as an adult? It’s tough. Outside of work, there is little opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new  people, and bizarrely, the open desire to make new friends seems almost taboo to the social media generation. So started my relationship with Meetup.

Honestly, the first event I braved (group not disclosed), I thought would be my last. I spent ages getting ready,wondering what to wear and hoping they’d like me, before downing two generous G&Ts to take the edge off. Sadly like the worst first date, there was no chemistry, and the night ended in some unwelcome groping. Alas, Meetup wasn’t for me…

Flash forward one year, and an old school friend and fellow Athena lady, Debbie, suggested an Athena Meetup. I was hesitant, but with an open mind I found myself putting on my favourite dress, cracking the gin, and taking a taxi to Dragonfly (FYI, they do the best Burnt Island Iced  Tea!).

Honestly, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming back to Edinburgh. I found my people. Eve was the first person I spoke to that night. I remember an amazing skirt, her penchant for a good G&T, and right away we were chatting music and drinking cocktails. Over the course of the evening I met so many amazing women, all unique, all from many different professions and backgrounds, and that was the beauty of it. It’s unlikely we would have met under any other circumstance, but here we were.

Over the next few weeks, and now months, I’ve gotten to know and admire each of these women, and we’ve become really good friends. We’ve had great craic drinking Guinness on St Paddy’s Day, downing buckets of cocktails to bring in our birthdays, sunning ourselves at the meadows festival, with many brunches in between.

Sure, we don’t have life all figured out yet, and hell, we probably never will, but together, Athena have a great time trying. We don’t judge. We build each other up, we are badass, and most importantly, we are unapologetically ourselves. These women have not only helped me fall in love with this city again, but also fall in love with myself again too.

Individually we are strong. Collectively? We are unstoppable.

Sign up to our meetup group here: www.meetup.com/athena-collectiv