Weiyi. Marketing Graduate MSc. University of Birmingham.
1. Tell me how your career journey has gone since you graduated?
In the last year of my studies I actually applied throughout the year itself so I was quite far ahead compared to others in terms of applying. I think I started around January which was 8/9 months before I graduated. I did a lot of research of which companies I wanted to join and on companies that came to present in our university and I found out about a lot of graduate schemes but these companies are obviously on the top for a lot of students. I applied for a lot of graduate schemes but obviously they are very competitive so I did not get into the graduate schemes. I still applied for the top companies but as you can imagine it’s very difficult if you have no work experience so it was quite a struggle and I could not find anything until about august when I was graduating so I had no option I had to go back to Holland because I was from there and my student accommodation was expiring. So I went back to the Netherlands and I still applied every day, so every day I would send one application out to one of the companies and I would get an interview every week, phone interviews so not in person and then I got 2 opportunities. So I had one with a smaller company and the job specs were not that great because it was not 100 percent in line with my degree and I did not know if the company would train me a lot because they didn’t even have a marketing person so that was the first opportunity I had. The second one was actually in Spain but it sounded a bit more like a call centre like the support but this was also not really what I wanted so it was kind of sticking true to what I want because I graduate from international school and a good university I really wanted to find something in line with my degree. I decided to decline these opportunities but still be really committed to finding a job because I know that a lot of students or a lot of people will get very demotivated starting job searching again because it is very demotivating when you get a rejection from a lot of the jobs that you apply for. But then I had an interview with KPN in the Netherlands but then I went to Birmingham where I studied to visit my friend and I got called by you guys for an interview with a company you had mentioned to me that needed my language skills which was kind of a good fit for me and from there onwards it moved pretty quick. I got my first interview, I extended my flight and then I got my job actually.
2. What was your motivation for choosing this career?
Actually I rolled into digital marketing because digital marketing was not as big as it is today. I studied marketing and international business so my criteria was that I wanted to work in marketing and in an international company. I definitely work in an international company and I have a passion for marketing so being more creative more thinking about communication and also what I learned in university so I wanted to apply all of this in my job. I didn’t wasn’t to do anything finance related or anything like that that I wasn’t passionate about. I was motivated to get something that fit with my values and principles and in a company and a role that I wanted to work for especially because I think that the first job is so important after you graduate. I was just motivated to not give up because I’m not a quitter.
3. In the beginning did you use your degree knowledge and skillset you got from uni?
Not as such because when you are first starting what you actually get are more skills such as sales and analytical skill. Because its digital you work a lot more with numbers and excel and a lot about technology. So it’s more about the company itself than marketing principles in my first year.
4. What new skills have you developed?
Well I didn’t study digital marketing at all so in my job at Adobe I learned everything about digital marketing on the job. Everything about artwork, everything about Bing, how to auctions work, how to analyse dat. Analytical skills are so important, even though marketing is not as much about numbers I think my international business degree helped me because we worked a lot with calculations. I think a lot of people underestimate marketing as being about the creative side of the business path but nowadays, especially with digital marketing, it’s all about big data and calculations and optimisation based on data you have to analyse. In my first job I don’t think I use a lot of the theories I learned at university.
5. At this stage are you where you’d hope to be in that time frame?
You will never be where you want to be because there will always be more that you want but I think I have done pretty ok. I worked for Adobe, I’m working for (miacom) where I’ve had three different positions so i was more like a stagiest, working on strategy across the portfolio. Then I started also using my marketing principles so I’d use different funnels, different needs in terms of consumer behaviours, principles like that and now I am more senior everything that I used to work on back in the day you use at more of a strategic level when you are higher up.
6. Did you have a career plan?
I always wanted to be in the industry so if I look back I have achieved that 100 percent. I always want to progress and learn more and also not be as specialised as I started with because I was very specialised when I started with adobe, I am now learning more cross channel like how everything relates to each other so that’s very interesting.
7. How did you make it happen?
So yeah just networking, talking to people, finding out where there are opportunities, really being determined and doing a lot of research online, finding companies that are hiring and looking for graduates and then just applying for all of it. Being determined and not giving up hope.
8. Job hunting strategy?
I went to a lot of careers fair in Holland and at university. I spoke to my family about job opportunities, I was even thinking about starting my own business so I was really thinking about all the different opportunities that were out there and just trying to find one that would give me a path. I think the first job is the most difficult because after that it will be easier because you have added value because they won’t have to train you. I just didn’t think about any limitations, networked a lot, approached a lot of people and just asked them if they had any opportunities or if we could talk, I reached out to my old teachers to see if they could put me in contact with anyone which they did. I did everything possible to find a job.
9. Who did you take advice from?
I took advice from one of my teachers. He had a lot of contacts I London, he had a long career in marketing so he was the best person to help me and he directed me in a lot of directions. I also had my career coach who I spoke to about what I should do because I was obviously very stressed out because I wasn’t getting a job. I had to move back to Holland because I couldn’t find a job so it felt kind of hopeless in a way. But that’s how I got a job I just didn’t give up at any stage.
10. What advice would you give a fresh graduate – a 20 something version of yourself?!
Don’t only look at the big companies like Unilever or Procter and Gamble, like the big sexy names. Use an agency as well, I never knew about agencies, so don’t just look at big companies also look at who they are working with. That’s my biggest advice. Also speak with people who have just graduated, don’t be scared to reach out to recruiters. I was very grateful the GRB offered me my first job because that really impacted my career path a lot, having my first job at Adobe I have been approached by the most amazing companies. What I have done that I would always advise is never give up. Make sure you try anything because a company might not have exactly the right job but they might have something similar so don’t stick with what you know be open minded. Also don’t settle for a company or job that doesn’t need your expertise, why study for so long to get a job you could have had anyway.
11. Any challenges during the transition from uni to work?
You have a lot more responsibilities, in university you work in groups, you take care of each other. Which you do at work too but you are more responsible you have real results and consequences, you become more responsible and professional. As a student it doesn’t matter if you go to school or you don’t but in work you feel more committed and like you always have to give 100% because it will always impact on your next step or your next role. Integrity is so important and respecting your colleagues, taking them into consideration and listening and communicating. I think that’s whati have really learned. Also sticking up for yourself is very important sometimes, I was working for a lot of clients and I always felt people would just give you a lot of work and if you don’t push back you will be over loaded and doing way more than your working hours because you want to look good and take as much as you can but its ok to push back and say I have to prioritise, I can do this tomorrow or next week. It shows that you are actually organised and getting things done but also you can take you own wellbeing into account.
12. Advice for first week and few months of a new job? (office etiquette, politics, etc.)
It was a bit boring because I got so much material that I had to read while other people are doing a job and you don’t know anything you just have to read the materials and I wasn’t really feeling useful. But I would say really embrace that week because after that you will be so overwhelmed. Read the material really specifically, make sure you understand it and when people give you training or assignments really go for it and fell free to ask questions because most of the time people are scared to ask questions but it’s not a problem because you are there to learn as well. That’s the most important advice I could give is just ask questions, listen and not be afraid to say if you don’t understand something.
13. Anything you would do differently if you could start over?
I think everything happens for a reason. I think the entire interview I had really prepared me for my interview with Adobe and I think all the interviews contributed to my knowledge of myself and impacted where I am today. I am really happy but as I mentioned I’d like to broaden out my knowledge and really find out about companies and what tech companies they work with, what agencies they work with. Not applying directly for the company itself but also their partners, I’d really work on really getting to know where they are operating and who they work with and considering them. If you get your first job with an agency that works with big brands you are more likely to get a good job after as well. So not really sticking to just the most sexy companies to work with.
14. One final top tip?
Just networking, researching, exploring and finding out more wherever you can is so important because you don’t want to limit yourself because if you can’t get one job you are kind of like screwed. You have to put you eggs in more baskets and you will find that at least one of the jobs will hire you. Don’t focus on one job because your disappointment will be really high. Also interview as often as you can because it will help you practice and be prepared for your interview for the job that you really want. So I think my main tip is not to put all your eggs in one basket.