Another Flaunt webinar is in the bag, this time giving a couple of different journeys some of the FD team have taken into digital marketing.
So you might be someone who’s just finishing school or uni or you might be thinking about a big life-changing new career. Whoever you are, if you’re even a teensy bit interested in a marketing career, hopefully, we can share some tips and tricks and give you a bit of an idea of where to get started.
First up is Brand Communications Lead, Polly
Laura and I have taken quite different paths on our journey into marketing. My educational background is fairly non-existent… After completing GCSEs (all 15 of them) and taking a brief stab at A-Levels, I left school after the first year of the sixth form. I’ve always found it tricky to stay engaged in a traditional education environment – I’m a little more suited to hands-on learning and getting stuck in. Over time, I’ve found learning styles which suit me and expanded my knowledge through online courses with practical tasks, webinars and research on topics that interest me most. I’ve also completed management courses and more practical qualifications to give the old CV a boost and improve my management style.
Digital PR Executive, Laura
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after school. I had always loved writing and building relationships, so I knew I wanted something which involved that. For a while, I dreamed of being a news presenter, but I was put off after learning it would involve elocution lessons. Still, keen on the news sector I started looking into journalism courses and a career path in journalism. As I delved further into researching these jobs, I was put off due to the amount of freelance work required as I wanted something a little more stable.
After a whole lot more research I found the course: Public Relations with Journalism which seemed to tick all the boxes for what I was interested in. So I decided to move away from home to attend Uni in Leeds. I was really nervous about moving away, but I’m so glad I made the decision – It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and learn to live by yourself.
I loved my time at uni and definitely picked the right course for me. As I learnt more and more about PR during the course, I decided this was what I wanted to do and began looking into jobs and careers in this industry.
When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’ve had jobs since I was 12 – working in hotels, cafes, restaurants, and farms – happy to get stuck into anything really. At 17, I was working part-time at a campsite and also a local pub, so after the school drop-out I saved up the pennies and had a summer travelling New Zealand, before returning to a bit of reality. I took a full-time job on quite a well-known local campsite and got my first taste of marketing. I was running day-to-day operations for the business including all aspects of marketing – from SEO, marketing campaigns, designs, paid ads and even stalls at trade shows.
Realising this was what I wanted to do, I started freelancing for local businesses. I started quite small with just a couple of clients and charged them very little. This helped me learn about different businesses and forced me to expand my knowledge: needing to edit photos and watch YouTube tutorials, same for design. Every time I came across something where I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, I went and researched it and learnt.
This led to my first role in marketing. I started at a design agency as an office manager, but within weeks, I was involved in projects and account management. This was a proper test of the skills I had taught myself and meant I could expand my knowledge surrounded by people I could learn from. I loved account management, and it proved to be a valuable learning experience as it involved a bit of everything – sales, project management, strategy, campaign planning, event management…
This ultimately led to my role now which is Brand Comms Lead for Flaunt and involves planning and overseeing all aspects of marketing for the business. Again this is a very hands-on role which suits me perfectly – from events to producing podcasts, to video editing – I pretty much throw my hand to whatever is needed.
So that is a brief overview of how I got here, which is a little different to Laura’s story so far…
In my last year or so of uni I knew I wanted to work in the marketing industry and started to realise how tough and competitive it is so I set out to get as much experience as possible really to give me a head start
I started off doing an internship for a local social enterprise. I was in charge of updating their social media and marketing strategy, so I created social posts and content, alongside running campaigns, and even securing radio coverage in my first few weeks. This was a completely remote, flexible job which meant I could fit it in around my studies.
I also did a marketing internship for a cosmetics company which involved being in their office a couple of days a week, which was a great first experience in an office environment. This mainly involved copywriting and strategy – so was a really valuable experience to give a wider view of marketing beyond what was covered in my degree. I also managed to get involved with social media marketing for a clothing brand and strategy planning for a holistic wellbeing brand.
HOW TO START A CAREER IN MARKETING
So if you’re interested in starting a career in marketing. So where do you start?
Often the best place to start is with a good old google search… ‘Best PR agencies in Leeds’ might just give you a list of companies with the best SEO and a few awards under their belt, but by delving a bit deeper you can start to explore the different companies that interest you and see what sparks your interest. Go through their websites, blogs and socials. Follow employees on LinkedIn and consume as much of their content as you can.
With marketing, there’s the age-old debate of in-house or agency… We’re slightly biased toward agency careers, but it’s worth considering the experience you can gain from an agency job – from a variety of clients to being surrounded by experts in different fields and the opportunity to experience different parts of the industry.
BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
One of the best things you can do at any stage of your career is to build a personal brand. Yes, some companies still require a CV, but you can make an impression on potential employers and industry experts without ever making one.
With so many platforms available, it’s easier than ever to get started – LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. Any of these can be used to create content based on your interests and knowledge and show off your skills. LinkedIn is an obvious platform to start posting and one we are big advocates for at Flaunt – it’s full of like-minded professionals and industry leaders and is also a great source of inspiration and somewhere to consume content. Another top tip is to create a blog and regularly post through this. There are sooooo many skills from a blog: copywriting, SEO, design – and it’s also a great way to show off to potential employers.
TALK TO PEOPLE
It sounds simple, but one a lot of people forget! LinkedIn (we are going to bang on about this a lot) is a fantastic tool for connecting with people and having genuine conversations. Connect with individuals from businesses you admire, and ask industry experts questions if you’ve seen something they’ve done you are interested in (people love telling you about themselves…). If there’s a business you are interested in, connect with the employees and ask about the company and what they enjoy about working there – this is the best indication of why you should work somewhere!
Education is an excellent starting point, but the more hands-on experience you can get, the better. Freelancing and part-time remote opportunities can work well around university or school and allow you to practice some of your learnings.
‘One of my first work experience placements, I discovered by browsing jobs on indeed. I saw that they were hiring for a full-time marketing exec – still being at uni, I knew I couldn’t apply for this role, but I saw an opportunity with a business that was looking for marketing resource. So I messaged them and said I was available to work part-time unpaid in return for some hands-on experience.’ – Laura
‘Realising marketing was what I wanted to do, I started freelancing for local businesses. I started quite small with just a couple of clients and charged them very little. This helped me learn about different businesses and forced me to expand my knowledge, research and learn new skills when needed. Every time I came across something where I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, I’d find a tutorial and make it happen.’ – Polly
FIRST JOB IN MARKETING
So what can you expect from your first job and what should you be looking out for when you are looking?
REMOTE VS. OFFICE
Depending on your circumstances, working from home might be the best option and also a model that a lot of businesses now operate. But it’s worth considering whether you think you will get the same hands-on experience without being in a physical office. It can be really useful being amongst people, listening to conversations and asking questions. So these are all things to consider when you are looking for a new role.
We operate a hybrid model at Flaunt – so we are in the office for 3 days and work from home for 2 days.
It’s also worth mentioning that if your interview was done online, but the role does require time in the office, don’t be afraid to ask to see the office before you start – it’s important to get a feel for the space where you will be working.
Never ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions! It’s the most important tool you have, especially when you are surrounded by people with experience and knowledge. During my first few weeks at Flaunt, the majority of my time was spent asking questions.
I think this links well to our point about office vs working from home as it’s so much easier to ask questions when you’re in an office than it is if you’re at home using slack.
I was worried that I was annoying with the number of questions I was asking at first but quickly realised no manager will ever get annoyed with you for being keen and everyone has been in the same situation at some point.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the business as well as the work – it’s important to learn about the company’s values, perks and culture.
Agencies in particular are great at organising socials and events for the team. I would always recommend getting involved with what’s going on in the business as it’s a great way to meet everyone and share knowledge. I would also recommend getting involved with business marketing and content opportunities if you can – writing blogs for the company, doing webinars, and being on podcasts – all great learning opportunities and a chance to show your enthusiasm.
STAY IN THE LOOP
Marketing is an ever-evolving and reactive industry, so it’s really important to stay in the loop and keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry. Social media is a great way to stay up to date with what’s going on and the news cycle.