A Canal College® journey

A blog post by Zoe Murray

Zoe Murray

Posted 17/11/2020

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We would like to share the Zoe’s amazing journey from a shy, hopeful young person to self- confident, focused young lady with a clear path to success.

Zoe joined Canal College with mountains of potential and experience, but like many people could not see the true talents and skills she possessed. Things were not always easy for Zoe at Canal College as she found herself outside her comfort zone. With a wee nudge here and there, the occasional reassuring blether and numerous revitalising cuppas, Zoe graduated with flying colours.

Zoe will join the next Canal College programme at Falkirk in a support role with Archaeology Scotland. We have no doubt that Zoe will inspire others on her journey and help them to unlock their true potential.


Why did you get involved in the canal college project?

Before participating in the programme I was just entering a new industry after moving on from hospitality and admin. I had previously tried environmental work before but lacked direction in terms of career or where to go next; so being able to volunteer and learn with various companies was beneficial for both me and my CV. I initially got involved in Canal College to learn more about environmental conservation and cultural heritage and how the two connect and improve local communities; as well as further developing my career and pushing me towards my goals. After hearing about the opportunities, qualifications, and achievements available, I found it interesting and new.

What aspects of canal college did you enjoy most?

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new companies and network. It was fascinating to have the chance to actively work in a variety of settings such as in a forest chopping invasive trees, an archaeological site for the first time excavating pottery and artifacts while recording the process through the different media forms and even working on the river boats cutting vegetation such as invasive Himalayan Balsam by the riverbanks with Scottish Canals.

I also found connecting with other participants through teamwork and group projects to be a big part of the programme. Working together and focusing on improving each week really helped people grow. Seeing participants beginning to end and seeing the difference and improvement left us with a sense of pride and confidence in both ourselves and each other.

What did you learn by attending Canal College?

I learned more about the environmental and cultural heritage industries and how they apply to the current day to day lives of local communities and the connections between positive mental health and maintaining outdoor green spaces our heritage sites. I learned a wide variety of practical skills and I got more involved with group projects and helping other people. I found out I’m capable of more than I previously thought.


What has changed in your life because of attending Canal College?

Through attending the Canal College programme and working to overcome challenges while gaining the qualifications and achievements on offer - I was able succeed in securing employment with a full-time 1 year traineeship in the archaeology field which I’ve been both enjoying and working on for about 9 weeks now. Each week I’ve continued to grow through working with my colleagues, making goals and training for an NVQ qualification in archaeological practice. I feel I’ve become a better person than I was when I started. I feel stronger and more capable of pursuing my goals and ideas and doing what I want with my life.


Do you have a message for others who might be considering getting involved with Canal College?

Canal College on the surface is a 14-week heritage based programme that connects the community and young people with environmental conservation and cultural heritage and teaches us how to maintain historic sites, maintain canals and keep them running - also how to work as a team to restore the sense of community in local areas. But it’s more than that.

It’s a programme that brings you together, through group work, learning and everyday attendance, you learn about yourself and those around you. You can be feeling lost in trying to plan your future or, you don’t know where your career is headed, or you can have your own struggles and personal demons. Canal College is a programme that supports you and helps you move forward.

Canal College has impacted my life for the better. I’ve gone from feeling lost in myself and my future, to being in a full-time 1-year trainee position looking at University and starting my own business. Having that support, and help was a big benefit. It changed my life, and I can’t thank them enough.


And finally, anything else you would like to say about your experience as a candidate on Canal College.

Canal College is a wonderful programme with amazing people working behind the scenes to help many people achieve their goals, achieve better overall health, job prospects and help maintain and connect with our cultural heritage sites and environments and - it has honestly changed my life for the better. If you’re interested in this programme, then definitely look into it and participate. It changes lives.


Find out more about our Canal College programme, including how you can get involved.

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