Having completed marketing work experience at the Careers Service earlier this month, Joyce Li, a PBS student from Clare College, shares her insights
What is marketing really like?
Like many other confused undergraduate students, I attended an event in February this year called Work to Change the World to discover what opportunities are available over summer. After talking to different employers at the events, I discovered that marketing might be something I’d enjoy. But marketing to me is one of the career options that sounds familiar but hard to visualise. So, I turned to Amanda Norman, careers adviser, at the event. ‘What is marketing like in real life?’ I asked. After giving me a brief description of marketing and her personal experiences, she said: ‘The only way to find out is to do it.’
After dropping her an email with my CV, there I was, completing work experience with the Careers Service, focusing on marketing! I did a one-week work experience at the Careers Service with Katherine Caddy, their marketing coordinator. I admit how terrified I felt opening my job description email: ‘Write a blog’ and ‘take over Careers Service’s Instagram Story for a week’ were two things that jumped out at me. I have never been very confident in writing in my second language; and I have never posted a single Instagram Story in my life. To be completely honest, I was slightly scared. I thought though, this week will surely be a great learning experience to get me out of my comfort zone.
Navigating the Careers Service website and social pages, I discovered so many resources that are relevant and useful
Katherine welcomed me with a big smile on my first day. I told her honestly about what I can contribute and what I hope to learn from this work experience, including my lack of experience and confidence in blogging and using Instagram. She reacted in a very positive way. This open communication was brilliant because Katherine was able to tailor my experience accordingly and I felt very comfortable later on to share my ideas with the team.
Exploring and brainstorming
Marketing in real life is not as easy as I thought. It is not simply about telling everyone what we have on offer, but also how to grab the targeted population’s attention. Navigating the Careers Service website and social pages, I discovered so many resources that are relevant and useful. How did I not realise they exist? I also asked my friends to take five minutes and browse through the website. They were surprised by how many hidden gems are on the website, such as a funding page for further study. This demonstrates one of the challenges that the marketing team is facing: how to promote resources that are so abundant and complex in varieties without overwhelming the audience. We had a meeting on Tuesday with the information team to brainstorm ideas about what resources should be promoted mainly and when should they be promoted, and also think about new mini events they could run, which I suggested should be casual and fun.
After jumping over the first hurdle, it became so much fun
Marketing is also about delivering the personality of an organisation. Another challenge for the marketing team is that for many students, they associate the Careers Service with anxiety. If thinking about careers makes someone feel anxious, it is unlikely they will engage with the Careers Service early on. How do we approach students who are not engaging with the service, but can potentially benefit from it? How do we let people know that we are approachable and friendly?
Experimenting and learning
I thought, why not introduce some members of staff on Instagram. Remember I mentioned that I am not comfortable on social media?! Thursday was a big day for me. I nervously posted a short video of myself introducing what I will be doing. After jumping over the first hurdle, it became so much fun. I got the chance to talk to people from different teams including Information, IT, events, careers advisers and assistants. It was amazing how there is a strong and professional team of 40 people working hard to support students and postdocs. They were very generous with their time to show me what their work is like; I got an overall sense of how everything is happening behind the scenes. Hopefully, the Instagram Stories have delivered the message: ‘we are all here for you’, and small events will be planned to make interactions with the Careers Service even less formal and anxiety-provoking.
I gained a greater insight into what information marketing is like during these five days, sitting in on the Careers Service’s Marketing & Communications Group, chatting to members of teams across the service, and exploring producing student-facing content including this blog. It is surprising how much one can learn from short work experiences. Before you dive into the careers sector that you are thinking of, why not try it out first?