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I applied in order to push myself outside my comfort zone

Colin Millar , Common Purpose Student Experience alumni

In the run up to the 33Sixty programme, alumni of 33Fifty share their experiences of how the programme helped them in their personal and professional development.

I was already pretty excited about the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow (the credit card bill for my tickets would testify to that) but the experience of taking part in 33Fifty was an incredible precursor to the main event.
The programme brought together 100 young leaders from across the Commonwealth for an intense four days of activities in Glasgow and Edinburgh just a few days before the Games began.  A dozen of us then stayed on for a further few days to take part in additional events, ranging from attending the Commonwealth Business Leaders Conference to making cakes for Prince Charles at Dumfries House!
I don’t think I’ll ever be in such a wonderfully diverse group of people. Growing up in rural Kintyre we were (almost literally) a million miles from the upbringings and cultures enjoyed by those from the far flung reaches of the Commonwealth, and bringing us all together to share experiences and work together on projects was a good way of developing my own Cultural Intelligence.
I applied in order to push myself outside my comfort zone. Since leaving school I’ve always aimed to balance work and study with my own hobbies and interests; juggling part time work with studies at university, then working towards a chartered accountancy qualification and now my current situation where I am studying a part time masters in Sport Management alongside my full time job. 33Fifty helped to develop my skills, threw me into new situations and introduced me to a whole new network of people.
During the four days we visited a host of organisations and listened to a series of guest presenters, some talking generally about leadership, some on the challenges and opportunities we face in Scotland and some specifically on the environment and low carbon economies, which was the focus of the programme. We immersed ourselves in a new topic and work together in groups to identify the role of young people in developing and sustaining low carbon economies, before pitching our ideas to industry experts on the final day. It was intense and challenging, but great for learning how to work in a new team and deliver against tight time pressures.
Since 33Fifty I’ve had significant changes in my working life, completing my chartered accountancy qualification and leaving the world of public sector audit for a commercial role at Hibernian Football Club. The change was already underway at the time, but I took a lot of confidence from 33Fifty and that’s served me well in my new job.
Since last year I’ve also been invited to speak at Common Purpose events and at the launch of 33Sixty. They give me the chance to reflect on my experiences and get feedback from professionals in other organisations. It expands my network and gives me a fresh perspective on what I’m doing.
I’m excited to see how our network continues to develop over the coming years, especially with 33Sixty kicking off next April. I’d definitely recommend the experience to anyone thinking about applying - throw yourself into the challenge!

Applications for the 33Sixty programme are now open. To find out more and to apply, visit the Common Purpose website