How I chose my career – or did it choose me?

Nicole Davies has gone from knowing almost nothing about marketing to giving presentations to multinational companies in a few short years. Here, our BSc (Hons) Marketing (Digital) student describes her journey.

Where it all began

Three years ago, I had no interest in marketing. I had little knowledge of what it really ‘was’. That was before I took up a marketing apprenticeship at Derby Museums. I thought it was just a job. But, as soon as I started the role, I fitted in straight away and loved it for so many different reasons!

I loved managing social media channels and creating content across them. This allowed me to be imaginative and to seek out content by attending events and talking to people. My confidence really started to grow. I loved meeting with augmented reality specialists and getting to play with the most innovative technology. I loved that it wasn’t all behind a computer screen. Many of my days were varied, working with film crews, attending events, organising photography shoots and being a part of experiences. Every day was different!

I simply loved marketing from day one, so I decided to come to university to increase my employability and to gain more in-depth academic understanding of the subject area that I had grown to love. I knew that after my three years at university, I would be set apart from other people when it came to finding the perfect job role due to my work experience and Marketing degree.

Studying while working

I have studied my degree alongside a permanent, part-time job at Derby Student Residences Limited as the Marketing Assistant. Studying my BA (Hons) Marketing (Digital) degree with prior experience was certainly a benefit as it meant I had an understanding of discussions and references within class. However, what has been fantastic for me is to apply what I am learning at university within work. I can see how the theory and learning applies in real workplace situations. Furthermore, the knowledge I am gaining gives me inspiration to apply new marketing tools and tactics to my current job role.

Initially, I thought that my work experience would influence my studies, which on some occasions this has been the case. However, I am finding that my studies are increasingly influencing my job role. Within one of my second year modules, Digital Tools, Technology and Platforms, I created a Digital Marketing Audit, Strategy and Plan, which I based on my workplace. I found this assignment incredibly helpful in assessing the digital marketing within my job role and finding inspiration in how to make positive change as a result.

The big presentation

Within my second year module, The Marketing Executive, four assignments have been based on live briefs for real companies, including JCB, Molson Coors, the University of Derby and The Marketing Society. I have found this style of assessment to be so useful in gaining more experience in working towards tight deadlines (as you would expect in the workplace) and from an employability point of view. Creating work for well-known brands means I can use this experience on my CV and as a talking point when meeting with future employers.

I mean, how many other students can say they presented in front of a team of employees from Molson Coors (and got 92% as result)? This assessment is certainly one of my proudest achievements. My friend and I had worked very hard in preparing the presentation. We designed it, re-designed it and then re-designed it again. There was also a great depth of research involved in the sector, the company, current trends and statistics, all to ensure that our work was valid and professional. Then came practising our delivery. We practised every day of the week of the presentation, and on the day we met at 7am to go over it.

I would say that presentations have always been a strength of mine. I tend not to let nerves get the better of me and I feel confident in talking in front of groups. However, this assessment really boosted my confidence in the sense that all the work and ideas put forward were from us. There was no framework to work towards or certain things that ‘had’ to be included. Everything was our own, and we impressed the company we pitched to, and achieved a brilliant grade.

My future career plans

Overall, these past two years have been fantastic and a huge stepping-stone in my career. I am excited (and slightly terrified) for my final year to begin and to see what other opportunities I can take advantage of at Derby. Over the summer, I will be completing the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Diploma. This is an additional qualification that will enhance my employability and theory knowledge, which I can apply in my current job role. I truly believe my course will give me a great foundation to continue with my career in marketing.

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