On Thursday 27th October Careers Network hosted an evening focusing on careers in advertising, marketing and PR. There was a fantastic panel of professionals present who spoke about their sector and gave attendees an insight into the career paths open to them. After a brief introduction the audience went into breakout sessions for their chosen field. Laura Westcott, an Account Director and Ian Stanley, a Media Consultant from McCann PR, located near to us here in Birmingham, discussed the different aspects that PR incorporates. From GrowBeyond Ria Blagburn, the Founder of the marketing company, explained the methodology of marketing and how she makes this work for her clients. Last but not least was Steve Price, the Creative Director of Superdream who represented the area of Advertising.
Ria talking to students about what’s it like to work in marketing
In a hands-on approach the groups were given product and/or client briefs and were asked to create a marketing, advertising and PR campaign, and then present it to the group. It was an opportunity to practice teamwork, enthusiasm, quick thinking, flexibility and courage – all of which are skills that are fundamental, it would seem, in approaching careers in any one of these areas.
Following the breakout sessions Ollie Purdom ,Client Services Director & Founder of Pitch Consultants told students about a great scheme called B-Hive. B-Hive is a West-Midlands based creative competition which offers applicants the opportunity to win one of 30 paid work placements with a range of agencies and brands.
B-Hive is split into 5 categories – Marketing, PR, Advertising, Graphic Design and Digital. Each category consists of a panel of judges representing leading creative agencies and big brands. Applicants will respond to a brief and if successful, be shortlisted and invited to present their ideas to the judges in their category.
If you’re interested in finding out more take a look at some case studies (available here).
The briefs are released on 28th November and you’ll have until 24th February to get your application in! Find out more about the scheme by visiting the B-Hive website now!
After Ollie’s talk students were able to ask loads of questions and receive some really great answers.
Here are a few key tips from the Q&A session:
How important is networking and how can it be done?
OLLIE: Networking is an important part of job hunting and there are a number of ways to make connections. Utilise social media; follow the company or individual on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Engage proactively in the company and be happy to start at the bottom of the chain. Try to get any experience, even volunteering once a week allows you to get to know people which will broaden your options and contacts.
RIA: Do your research! Make your message on LinkedIn appropriate and relevant.
STEVE: Use social media channels to showcase what you can do. Start now, don’t wait to apply for long term jobs; start creating a portfolio.
Do you look for a specific course/degree?
RIA: It’s the skills that you have that stand out and set you apart. A willingness to work is also extremely important.
OLLIE: It’s also fine to try out different sectors until you decide.
STEVE: It doesn’t matter about your background, you just need to be intelligent and keen to work.
LAURA: Show that you want to try and can think creatively.
What tips do you have for students when they come to write a CV?
RIA: Please no silly mistakes! Spelling errors and lack of information are two major no no’s.
OLLIE: Have something extracurricular on there, and be aware that further employers are going to be looking at your social media…maybe change your Facebook privacy settings! Make sure your application is tailored to the organisation and role.
LAURA: LinkedIn is a really important tool so use it properly and make sure it is up to date and contains lots of great things about you.
STEVE: No one hand writes them anymore… Also, don’t be afraid to sell yourself.
RIA: Don’t make the cover letter feel generic.
(Remember Careers Network has drop-in sessions to help with CVs and applications, bookable appointments and lots of online resources – to find out more visit their website).
Is a Masters course in these areas worth it?
LAURA: It certainly shows a passion for the field but it’s not essential. If you do decided to study a postgraduate course make sure to supplement the theory with a lot of practical work.
Is there a standout trait in someone that particularly grabs your attention?
LAURA: Attention to detail, and enthusiasm. Get stuck in and go for it – it’s memorable.
IAN: A desire to learn more and grow your skill set is something that is really impressive.
RIA: Put yourself out of your comfort zone.
Are there any skills gaps in the market generally?
OLLIE: Copy writers and web content writers possess skills which are in high demand. Writing blog posts is great but it’s an entirely different skill to be able to encapsulate a marketing scheme in a few short, catchy sentences.
IAN: An understanding of how modern and traditional media work together. At interviews you will be asked which news stories you’re following and what interests you, so be aware that it’s not all online.
LAURA: People who are in high demand are those that can identify a news story from traditional headlines.
Keep an eye out for our e-newsletters where you can find all the information about upcoming careers events and book to attend.
-Written by Emily Martin, SET member and History of Art/Italian student at The University of Birmingham