We recently caught up with alumnus Jack McMillan who graduated from the Business School in 2019, having studied Business with Enterprise and Innovation. Jack now works at Edinburgh Innovations (EI) at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) as an Enterprise Officer. EI is the commercialisation service at the University and offers a free student service encouraging and supporting all students and recent graduates to give entrepreneurship a go.
Let’s hear from Jack…
What do you think was the most valuable aspect of your time at Edinburgh in preparation for your career?
I originally got involved with EI as a student founder, when I had an idea for a messaging platform to supercharge university group chats. This project taught me a huge amount:
- I learnt how to code and launched a mobile app using React Native software.
- I built a team and grew engagement through the app to Monthly Active Users (MAU) 2000, and Daily Active Users (DAU) 400.
- I also raised over £20,000 from grants and competitions.
- I employed and managed five software developers, and one marketing intern.
- I gained experience putting together and delivering a compelling pitch and articulating a vision that resonates with a team.
What does your work involve in your current role?
I really enjoy the diverse range of work I do at EI, as I’m given the responsibility to propose and lead on impactful projects. For instance, my key contribution has been the development of the Startup Community Platform; born out of disconnection within our entrepreneurial community. During the project I worked with the IT department and coded the majority of the front-end myself. At the same time, I’m also heavily involved in event and programme planning, and I’m one of the lead organisers of Techstars Startup Weekend. So no two days are the same!
EI, and the knowledge I have gained through my degree, has supported me a massive amount with my career ambitions, and I would encourage any UoE student with entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial ambitions to get involved. I’m delighted to now be giving back to the student community through my role and supporting students with their ventures. Whether you want to become the next iconic founder, or world-class freelancer, I’m there to support you!
Draw on your connections…
My top tip to students and graduates would be to seek out valuable extra-curricular projects and opportunities on campus. One of the most valuable aspects of the university experience is the social environment it provides for forming connections with other optimistic, intelligent and ambitious young people: it’s the perfect opportunity to invest in your future professional network. I believe it’s a key priority for those working within higher education to continue breaking boundaries between disciplines and institutions and equip students with the intellectual and practical fields of knowledge that will benefit them in the workplace of the future.
Parting advice… get involved with Edinburgh Innovations
Whether you’ve never thought about entrepreneurship before or have too many ideas to choose from, EI can help. There are a wide range of events, competitions, programmes and online courses and resources so you can get involved in this friendly, open community.
Check out upcoming events at https://eil.ac/launch/6
As Jack highlighted, there’s huge value in the activities you can undertake alongside your studies. Have a look at our further suggestions on taking part in activities both within and outside your degree programme.
Another approach to making connections is via Platform One, where you can find friendly people who share a connection with the University. These include alumni, staff and students who are happy to answer your questions and share their experiences with you. Joining Platform One is straightforward: you can sign up to create a profile using this link.
(Image credit: Edinburgh Innovations)