Our Tom is still, at the age of 25, relatively fresh-faced when it comes to the world of marketing. With plenty of years ahead of him, he shares his tips on how to make that all important first step into the world of marketing, whether you’re studying for GCSEs or you’re a recent university graduate.
In what has become an extremely competitive career path, it’s sometimes difficult to get a foot in the door when your ambition is to work in marketing. The number of people taking media and/or communications degrees is extremely high – at least it certainly was when I was studying at Nottingham Trent.
I only decided upon this career when I was at University. My initial thought process in my early teens was that I wanted to be a Journalist – however during the first year of my degree, my ideas quickly altered because Marketing was so much more all-encompassing for me, tapping into copywriting, design, PR, social media – basically everything I loved!
So, where do you start when you decide that you’re going to pursue your aim of working in this incredibly fast-paced and extremely rewarding environment?
Get your name out there as early as you can!
Age is no barrier to getting noticed, so don’t be afraid to try your luck when you’re young! Just a few weeks ago I stumbled across some letter responses I received 10 years ago when I was 15, and studying for my GCSEs at Harry Carlton Comprehensive School. The letters included companies such as Trent FM (now Capital), the Nottingham Evening Post (now Nottingham Post) the BBC and several more. I contacted these businesses enquiring if they took people on for work experience. Admittedly I was unsuccessful with all these attempts, but there’s no harm in trying – what have you got to lose!
Showing initiative and simply getting your name in front of someone leaves a positive impression and you never know – it might turn into an opportunity in the future!
Summer holidays are not just for staying at home or messing about with your mates
When the summer holidays roll around at school, college or university, it’s a given that you will spend time with friends, maybe jet off abroad with family or friends if you’re lucky and generally relax. But, believe it or not, there’s another incredibly brilliant way to spend some of your holidays – work experience!
Building up that CV can start at a very young age. At the age of 17 I was fortunate enough to be offered a placement with one of our clients – Nottingham City Transport. I enjoyed two successful stints with them across two summers, getting to grips with the basics. I even saw one of my campaigns used on NCT’s South Notts buses! It might not sound like the ideal way to spend your time away from studying but trust me, showing willing and the initiative to go out there and do some unpaid work experience off your own bat counts for a lot in the future. And in all honesty, you can learn more from two weeks in an office putting skills into practice, than in a whole term at university.
Demonstrate that you’re prepared to work hard, no matter where you are or what you’re doing…
I don’t know who first said it, but here’s an old saying which I’ve found will stand you in good stead:
“It’s easier to get a job when you already have a job.”
Balancing studying for A levels or a degree with holding down a part-time job isn’t easy, and sometimes it can feel like you’re drowning. But believe me, as with the previous section about work experience, having experience on your CV can’t be stressed enough.
During my studies I worked in retail and call centres part-time and then after graduation from university, worked full-time in retail, working my way into management positions by keeping the mindset that even if I wasn’t in my dream job yet, I wasn’t going to let it stop me from progressing in some way. Showing that you’re prepared to work hard and not leave gaps on that CV will go a long way with future employers.
Embrace all aspects of marketing
Be open minded to all aspects of marketing…
Once you’ve worked hard for 3 or 4 years at university and graduated – look at what’s out there. You might be settled on the idea of working in PR, or design, or social media – that’s great and there’s nothing wrong with specialising to an extent. But what I would say is keep an open mind.
“If one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all it’s aspects”
Now I’m not asking you to join the dark side here, but what I am suggesting is to simply keep an open mind. You might have one specific area that interests you more, but there’s nothing wrong with adding new strings to your bow. In my first full-time role I took on design, social media, copywriting, web design, CMS systems, client handling and much more. I might not have expected to do all of those jobs when I signed the contract but there’s no harm in learning new skills and broadening your horizons.
And finally, make a good impression and don’t have any regrets!
The old adage of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is more true than you will ever realise. Leaving a great impression on work experience employers and general employers with a smile and a can-do attitude is paramount. Build up a series of references from people, start putting together a portfolio of work and make sure people remember you. Hey, after my second placement at NCT in 2009 I was recommended to The Dairy for work experience – and look where I’ve ended up working 8 years later!