Scott’s summer placement as a ‘Growth Hacker’ at Skyscanner


Hello Scott, can you tell me about yourself?

Sure, I’m Scott Grigor and I’m originally from Aberdeen. I started studying BSc Computing at Edinburgh Napier in 2013, but quickly decided it wasn’t for me – there was too much coding! Luckily, I was able to transfer onto BSc, Business Information Systems, which was attractive because it still has technology focus, but it’s more about design, planning and management.

Where were you on summer placement?

I was on summer placement with Skyscanner, working in a team called the ‘Traveller Communication Squad’. Basically, we’re in charge of email marketing, push notifications and price alerts, all to make sure that the company is keeping in touch with the customer base.

How did you find the summer placement?

Well, for a start I knew that I wanted one well before I started applying! I’d decided not to do the year long placement that’s an optional part of my course, and so I had my eye on the summer between 3rd and 4th year to get an experience that would look good on my CV. I considered applying for summer camp in the US before hearing about Skyscanner’s internship programme. Skyscanner are probably one of the best known and regarded companies in the tech sector in Scotland, so I was interested straight away. I filled out the online application form last November, then waited until the following March when I had a Skype interview. I was asked along to an assessment centre at the company’s offices straight afterwards. There, we had to work on a group presentation, complete some individual tasks and then have a one-to-one interview. I was one of the lucky ones who was got the job!

Tell us about your role

My job title was ‘Growth Hacker’. Everything at Skyscanner is done along ‘lean’ and ‘agile’; principles, aimed at getting good work done quickly. Growth Hackers help to grow the number of users of the website by trying out new things, quickly! Our focus is on activating user interest, acquiring them as customers and retaining them as loyal users of the website into the future.

I worked on a few projects, two of the main ones were the Skyscanner Forum, where our goal was to increase use of the discussion forum on the website, and a Web Development project, where we had to design and implement some functionality on the website for product price alerts.

How do you think the experience will help you, once you graduate?

I already had some work experience via a part-time supermarket job, but the summer placement is something I’m really proud of and I’m making a lot of it on my CV. I feel that I’ve had a valuable chance to put my skills into practice during my studies – and learnt some good skills and industry practices on top. Getting the chance to do this while working in one of Scotland’s highest profile companies was great. I’ve met lots of new people and made good contacts, and I’ve got lots to talk about in future job interviews. And one of the best outcomes so far is that I’ve been kept on at Skyscanner for a part-time role in the final year of my degree, so it’s goodbye to supermarket shifts! It’s all been very valuable.

How do you feel about the future?

Positive! Now that I’ve had the summer placement I feel that I’ve got experience which puts me in a good position for applying for graduate jobs. And I’ve already been through a lot of the recruitment processes that big companies use, so I feel like I know the ropes.

Can you sum up your placement in three words?

Challenging, rewarding and fun.


Steven – from a summer placement to a graduate job offer


Q. Hi Steven – can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m studying the BSc Business Information Systems degree in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. I’m actually a mature student – I started studying Chemistry at another university but I didn’t like the course and left. I then worked with SKY for a while, first in customer services and then eventually I was able to get involved in some interesting cross-team project work, which I really enjoyed. I decided that if I wanted to get a permanent graduate position doing that kind of work I’d need to get a relevant degree, and that’s what led me to the BSc Business Information Systems.

Q. Where were you on summer placement?

I’ve just finished a ten-week placement with RBS.

This is the second placement I’ve done during the Business Information Systems degree. The first was a year-long placement between second and third year – I was able to gain course credit for that one, as well as having a great experience and getting paid! The summer placement at RBS between third and fourth year gave me even more experience  – and was also very well paid!

Q. How did you find your summer placement?

We’ve got a placement office on-campus, and Maureen Ronaldson sends emails out to students about summer placement opportunities and can usually answer any questions or give advice before applying. So, the first I heard about the RBS placement was through an email from Maureen. I had already decided to look for a summer placement so it was a case of the right message coming through at the right time.

There was an online application form, and then I had a telephone interview. Finally, I was asked to go along to an assessment centre (which was quite interesting) and then I got the job.

Q. Tell us about the role

My placement was on RBS’ Business Technology programme, and my position was Operational Analyst in the Technology Solutions Centre. This centre controls the main technical infrastructure for the bank, the mainframes and distributed servers that support all of the banking operations. It was my job to help monitor these systems.

The role was actually very varied. There was day-to-day monitoring of how the systems are being used in the business – who is accessing the systems, when, and how data files that are of high importance to the bank are being used. I also helped analyse and present data, taking raw numbers and turning them into infographics to explain how our systems are performing. I had to write a process document to help manage a process change, and that meant doing a lot of internal networking to get information from all the people who would be involved in the change, that was a good experience. And because I’m interested in security, I was able to get involved in some of that side of things.

Q. How will the experience help you once you’ve graduated?

Immensely – at the end of the summer placement I was offered a place on the RBS graduate scheme, without having to go through any further interviews or assessment centres!

RBS, like a lot of other big employers, are able to use the summer placement as an ‘extended audition’, and on the last day all of the interns find out whether they are being offered a position after they graduate. Many do – and I’m very pleased to say that I am one of them. I had a great time at RBS during the summer and I’m really looking forward to joining the graduate scheme once I finish my degree.

Q. How do you feel about the future?

Very optimistic and excited. Before summer, I had been a bit anxious about my final year at university, knowing that I’d have a lot of work to complete for my degree while also feeling the pressure to apply for graduate jobs – which can take a lot of time and effort. Now that I’ve secured my graduate job, I feel that I can concentrate on my studies without feeling anxious about what’s coming next.

Q. Sum up your placement in three words!

Best. Decision. Ever.

Ailie’s favourite subject? Cyberpsychology

What first attracted you to the BSc Business Information Systems course?

Final year BIS student, Ailie

I was initially attracted to the BIS course because it was a course that allowed me to study computing but without being heavy with technical modules. I’d been keen on studying computing since the middle of high school but when it came to selecting a specific computing course to study at university I struggled. When I started university I was on another computing course and after doing programming modules I realised that that course was not for me. I researched what other course were available and discovered BIS, it quickly became apparent that BIS offered exactly what I wanted and then switched at the end of first the year.

What has been your favourite subject on BIS?
This is difficult as I’ve enjoyed aspects of almost every subject that I’ve studied but I think my ultimate favourite would have been cyberpsychology. Cyberpsychology was a bit different from the other classes that I studied, it looked at the evolution of humans and their capabilities and limitations when interacting with technology it was incredibly interesting.

What makes the BIS course different from other courses?
BIS is different from other courses as it has a balance of both technical and business focused classes. You have classes where you are quite technically focused such as databases and others where you look at business models and other business techniques, it provides you with a very diverse skillset.

Does BIS have anything to do with real life?
Yes! BIS has everything to do with real life. As someone who has been looking for a graduate job recently it has become glaringly obvious how relevant BIS is. Most graduate jobs/programs within IT are of course looking for candidates that have technical skills but also emphasise that candidates are required to have excellent communication skills, team working skills and project management skills, all of which are developed throughout the BIS course.

Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up? What made you carry on?
Yes, there definitely have been times when I have felt like this. For the most part it’s been self-inflicted and because I’ve left coursework to the last minute as I’d underestimated its difficulty or been absorbed in a Netflix series. Then I end up sitting the night before its due wanting to give up but I’ve always carried on. I think this is because I know how badly I want my degree, I’ve done my fair share in terrible part time jobs and anytime I want to give up I think about them and realise how badly I want a successful career and a job that I love.

Would you recommend BIS?
I would, I’d recommend it to anyone like myself who is interested in technology but not passionate about programming or other techy elements. Even those who are more business minded would most likely enjoy and benefit from BIS as the skills that are gained are so desirable to employers.

How has BIS helped you to fulfil an ambition?
I’ve always wanted a job that I look forward to getting out of bed in the morning for, one that really excites me and doesn’t get mundane after a matter of weeks. BIS has given me the skillset to secure a place on a graduate program that looks like it will do just that, I personally feel that the uniqueness of the course really helped me stand out at interviews and assessment centres. The course has lots of modules that involve groupwork and project management which are really useful when answering competency based questions in interviews.

What good advice would you give to anyone starting university?
I’d advise anyone starting university to practise good time management from the beginning because it really does pay off. It will ensure that you are able to get any help that is needed from lecturers or resources that are required in enough time so that your mark is not sacrificed. It’s really beneficial especially in fourth year when you’re working on your honours project while having additional modules running at the same time that will have additional coursework’s and exams.

What are you doing now?
I’m currently in my final year so I am very busy just now. I will be handing in my final honours project and sitting my final exams within the next few months so everything’s a little bit chaotic and nerve wracking just now.

How do you feel about the future?
Excited! I really can’t wait to start my career! I’ve just accepted a place on the RBS graduate program so am really looking forward to beginning, it’s a little bit scary but I really do think it will make the past four years’ worth it!

Catching up with Aina

I’m Aina. Three things that could summarise me are: I am a kind, friendly and hard working person.

Recent BIS grad Aina

The range of subjects and the work placement opportunity is what attracted me the most to join the BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) course. My favourite subject was Database Systems, but I don’t believe that it is compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS. Prior to joining the course I had studied art, web design and had HNC in Administration and Information Technologies.

The course was challenging and allowed me to gain a lot of new knowledge which I believe makes me a more employable individual. The most important thing I’ve gained from studying on BIS has to be the work experience. I did a yearlong placement with the University of Edinburgh, which helped me a lot to develop both my professional and individual skills.

What makes the BIS course different from other courses is that it has a good balance of computing and business subjects. I believe that BIS has a lot to do with real life, mainly because the course not only arms students with computing knowledge but also gives a good insight into how real-life businesses operate. Therefore I believe that this course prepares students well to face challenges that may occur in the real working environment.

All of my fellow students were very friendly and supportive of each other. Perhaps Bence was the most intriguing fellow student as he seemed very quiet at the time I joined the course. However, after some time, I learned that he is very friendly and good at organising extra-curricular activities, which made our class so much closer. I wasn’t very silly at University but I once sat in on the wrong lecture. When I realised, I decided to leave the lecture so that I could go to the right one. However, the tutor spotted me and asked me why I was leaving, so I had to explain in front of the whole class. It was quite embarrassing.

There were several points throughout my studies that made me feel like giving up. However, I carried on with my studies because I believed that in order to achieve the goals that I have set for myself, I should finish the course. Therefore I did my best in all the modules I took, and I would recommend this course to others as I believe that it is a good course.

If I had to give single piece of advice to someone planning to study information systems, it would be: don’t panic if you don’t understand something. Tutors are there to help, it is better to clarify things that are unclear, for example in the assessment, than panicking and trying to complete an assignment that is unclear.

I’ve finished the BIS course and I feel good about the future. I had several companies contacting me and asking if I would like to submit my application with them. At the moment I have one job offer after passing the interview. However, I still have two assessment centres to complete. I am still weighing up my options in order to choose the right employment path for myself.

BIS grad and IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival, Dean

I was first attracted to BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) by the combination of IT and Business, it was a perfect fit for me as I didn’t feel like I wanted to be a programmer and I have analytical mind so the business modules were very exciting for me. It’s a hybrid course which I think is its strongest point.

Dean, IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival

I thoroughly enjoyed project management as it showed me the background to how a major IT project is carried out and inspired me for my dissertation.

It’s not compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS at all. In my year we had a wide range of people with lots of different personalities. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to work hard.

BIS allowed me to find a job within the city centre that I love – the only reason I got this job was because of the work placement I did in my 3rd year. I gained a lot of confidence throughout my 3rd year because of the work placement. That year helped shape me into the young professional I wanted to be. It also let me see that making mistakes is ok as long as you learn from them.

BIS is different from other courses. It’s a hybrid course, it covers Business and IT. It gives you a full view of the Business world and the IT world, which makes it a fantastic course.

My most intriguing fellow student I would say was Rebecca. She pushed and helped me more than anyone else and I hope I did the same for her. I remember twice actually wanting to give up the course – once was half through my 2nd year doing database systems; it was just far too difficult for me to comprehend. The reason I didn’t give up was because I remembered what our programme leader said at the start of the year, “When it really starts to get tough, that’s when you will find out the BIS students wrap their sleeves up and really work hard”. I stuck with the module and I passed.

I would recommend BIS. It’s a fantastic course with a wide range of interesting subjects. It helps shape you into a young professional and the lecturers are fantastic at what they do. You are given the support you need to be the best that you can be. My advice would be, if you’re going to do Honours, then prepare far ahead in advance as you will need to use your time wisely and diligently.

I’m currently the IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival. It’s a charity and the people are very lovely.

Chat with Jonathan

Recent BIS graduate, Jonathan, takes time out from his work at Babcock International to chat with us.

BIS grad Jonathan, now working for Babcock International

1. What first attracted you to the BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) course?
I have always had a passion for computing and studied the subject throughout the entirety of my time at school so continuing to study the field at university seemed an obvious choice. Despite my passion for IT I did not share the same passion for developing or programming. The BIS course offered a real balance between introducing programming without overpowering you whilst also offering knowledge of the applied use of IT throughout business.

2. Is it compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS?
Absolutely not, I wouldn’t consider myself a geek. In fact majority of the people on the course were not stereotypical “geeks”, certainly not to look at anyway. There’s no denying that there were certainly some geeks in the other computing courses but not in BIS, well perhaps one or two.

3. What was the most important thing you gained from studying on BIS?
The thing I gained that I feel is the most important is in fact not something academic. BIS made me into a comfortably confident person, when I began the course I was relatively shy and the thought of presenting to a crowd was unthinkable. Now I can confidently present to people of all levels and whether it be in or out of work. This skill helped massively at my assessment centre and job interviews for the job that I currently have.

4. What makes the BIS course different from other courses?
BIS is an incredibly supportive course, the lecturers are always available and approachable. On the BIS course there isn’t this culture of going to a lecture, taking screeds of notes and then struggling to make sense of it all on your own, there is always help available. I’ve heard experiences from many of my friends’ time at university and they simply did not get the support anywhere near to what I got.

5. Does BIS have anything to do with real life?
Yes, most of the material taught is current and relevant. I remember a time that I sat in a class thinking “I don’t know why we’re studying this, this isn’t going to be relevant in my future”. However after securing my job all these things I thought were once irrelevant started to become very real.

6. Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up? What made you carry on?
Yes there was, towards the end of second year I really considered cutting my course short and not continuing with my honours year. I was struggling with money, my grades had started to slip and I had just lost all motivation. The only thing that made me carry on was that I had come this far I at least had to finish 3rd year. After completing my first semester of 3rd year my grades had dramatically improved and in turn I became more determined to finish the course and I went on to finish my honours year.

7. Would you recommend BIS?
Yes, I would recommend this course to anyone that has a passion for IT/Business but not necessarily the technical side.

8. What single piece of advice would you give someone planning to study BIS?
The single piece of advice I would give is play to your strengths. Know what you’re good at and focus on it. I got caught up with worrying that I didn’t know how to code in C++ or I didn’t know how to configure a network whilst neglecting the skills that I had. If you realise what you’re good at early on then it makes you far more confident and it helps to clarify your thoughts about your future career.

9. What are you doing now?
I am now following a 2 year IT Graduate Development Programme at Babcock International, a FTSE 100 company and one of the UK’s leading Engineering Services enterprises.

10. How do you feel about the future?

I’m incredibly optimistic about the future; I’m working for an international organisation so the opportunities are limitless. In terms of academia I am now looking to study to become a Chartered IT Professional with the British Computer Society (which has accredited the BIS course).

Chat with Kayvon

We chat with recent BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) graduate, Kayvon

BIS graduate Kayvon
BIS graduate Kayvon

1. Tell us three things about yourself.
I have lived in Edinburgh all my life (why would I want to live anywhere else?). I was president of the university badminton team and competed in the university league and cup competitions. I also love to play football!

2. What first attracted you to the BIS course?
On reading the prospectus, it was clear the BIS course offered a variety of essential modules and was designed to bring together theory and practice, including the option for a year-long placement. I hoped the course would help me improve my skills in an IT and business context and put me in good stead for a job in the IT business industry.

3. Is it compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS?
No, I’m not a geek and I have been quite successful! An enthusiasm to learn and effort in your studies will help you to be a successful BIS student.

4. What was your favourite subject on BIS?
There are many interesting subjects covered in BIS but one of my favourites was Knowledge Management. It was a very thought provoking module that involved lessons and assessments that prepared me well for the honours project dissertation and no doubt for the future.

5. Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up? What made you carry on?
A couple times during my dissertation I felt a little stressed and sometimes felt like giving up (I’m told this is perfectly normal). Great support and guidance from my honours project tutor and other university lecturers helped me focus on the task at hand and get through the challenging period. I should probably mention my family too who supported me a great deal throughout. It can be difficult at times but organise yourself well and it can also be very rewarding (once submitted!).

6. Would you recommend BIS?
Absolutely! BIS is a great course and I’m glad I decided to enrol. The BIS course is different from some courses in that you can do a full year’s work placement in the IT/business industry. This was invaluable and I learnt a lot from my experience working within the industry and applying what I had had learned in class. It also helps you confirm what you want to do in future.

7. You’ve finished the BIS course – how do you feel about the future?
Although I am sad to be leaving university, I know I am ready to take on the ‘real world’ thanks to my university degree. I now have a strong CV full of interesting and industry respected skills/ modules that I have studied and also a full year’s works based learning experience. I am confident employers will highly regard the skills and opportunities that the BIS course has provided me.

8. Where do you go from here?
Thanks to my degree, I now have a variety of skills and work experience. This has helped me to gain employment with an international technology company and would help when applying for graduate jobs.

9. What advice would you give to new students at Edinburgh Napier?
– Use a diary to keep you on track with module deadlines, university events, and exams.
– Always make a study plan when approaching exam time. Exams can be fun if you have learnt the content!
– Make sure you join a society at Edinburgh Napier if you have a particular interest in a sport or hobby. It’s a great way to meet new people and a great social life too.

10. What advice would you give to new BIS students?
– Make sure take up the opportunity to do a full year’s student placement. This is a great chance to challenge yourself and use some skills you have learned from your first few years at university.
– Always buy or borrow the module textbooks at the start for any course modules.
– Enjoy it, deciding to study BIS will be the best decision you have ever made!