August 4, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
Working in Digital: Five Tips from Five Graduates
Impression is a small digital marketing agency in Nottingham, and almost a quarter of its 22 permanent staff are recent University of Nottingham graduates. We each came to the company in a different way, so we come together to tell our stories about working in digital, and share some top employability tips.
Liam Wade: Don’t be afraid to try something different
Role: PPC account manager
Degree: BA Music
I studied music, but soon realised I didn’t want a job in the music industry. Impression caught my eye because their setup offered autonomy, which I didn’t see in the bigger grad schemes.
My degree didn’t give me a clear path into business, so I decided to try and catch Impression’s eye with a creative application. I sent the founders, Tom Craig and Aaron Dicks, a music video that I’d made, along with my CV and covering letter.
My covering letter wasn’t long, but I tried to make it a bit different. I talked about my key skills, used a touch of humour, and highlighted areas of my course that would be most useful to Impression. This included low contact hours, which worked in my favour as I initially applied for a part time role alongside my degree.
I’ve learned a few things on my path to PPC account manager. One is to take responsibility for tasks, which can mean going beyond what my role prescribes. This means saying yes to the important things, and learning when to say no as well. Also, don’t be afraid to challenge tradition – trust your logic and try new ways of doing things.
Key Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try something different with your cover letter to make you stand out. You could send something extra with your application, like I did with my music video.
Chloe Fair: Get experience, start early, and read widely
Role: SEO account executive
Degree: BA German and Philosophy
In 2015, I was searching extensively for a job for my year abroad. This meant applying to over 40 opportunities across Austria and Germany. I spoke to final year language students and was advised to look at marketing roles as it’s so diverse. I was offered a job in Munich, initially working more as a translator and proofreader. After the bulk of that was done I found myself diving right into SEO (search engine optimisation).
Just under a year later in May 2016, I started to think about staying and working in Nottingham. Then Aaron contacted me on Linkedin. The only thing I was certain about was that I wanted to work in SEO, and for an agency. This would allow me to gain more experience and work with clients across a range of different industries.
Key takeaway: Having worked in an international in-house marketing team and all-round digital marketing agency, I can honestly say there is something to suit every skillset.
Ben Garry: Use your Careers and Employability Service
Role: SEO account executive
Degree: BA English
I worked for Impression one day a week during the last two terms of my degree. I met Aaron and Tom at a Spotlight On…, where you can talk to employers and hear insights about working in their sector. After talking to Aaron, he invited me to the office to talk some more. When I came back after Christmas, he said they could take me on.
I had no reason not to go to the Spotlight event. I knew I wanted to work in Nottingham, but I didn’t know much else. At a Spotlight On… you are free to be as involved as you want. I’m not normally a fan of ‘networking,’ but if you push yourself to make the extra effort, you can gain real benefits.
Now I work as an SEO executive, which is really diverse. I overlap a lot with the digital PR team, which means that I get to use the creative and research skills learned during my degree.
Key Takeaway: Use the services and events that the careers service offers – they’ll help you find opportunities you might not find alone.
Lauren Capon: Keep your eye out for internships
Role: PPC account executive
Degree: BA English with Creative Writing
It didn’t take long for me to become disillusioned with the search for a grad scheme. At the time, I didn’t really know what else was out there. When I saw Aaron speaking at a careers event, I was introduced to the concept of a marketing agency for the first time.
He spoke about a once a week, eight-week internship at Impression that was being offered by the School of English. I applied on a whim. Six weeks into the placement, I was offered a place on their upcoming grad scheme, which I immediately accepted! Since then, my role in the company has changed. I now work in a different department, which has given me the opportunity to try different things and find out what I like.
Key Takeaway: Look out for internships advertised through your course. They’re the perfect way to gain experience in companies that are actively looking for students and graduates.
Lauren Wilson: Optimise your LinkedIn Profile
Role: Digital PR account executive
Degree: BA English and French
I wasn’t keen on grad schemes, as I was put off by the application process. I wanted to write for a living in some capacity, so focused my efforts on gaining relevant work experience: I completed a one-day-per-week internship with a restaurant listings business, held an editorial position at Impact, and volunteered with the Nottingham Playhouse.
At the end of my second term I was contacted by Impression on LinkedIn. The business was looking for a digital PR executive and had searched LinkedIn for ‘digital PR’ and ‘Nottingham graduate,’ My profile was presented in the search results thanks to my efforts to optimise it. I responded to the message with a portfolio of my writing and was invited for an initial coffee, and then for an interview. I was offered a position on the company’s personalised graduate scheme and began to work a couple of days a week in June 2015. This allowed me to familiarise myself with the business and clients, before starting full time in July 2016.
To gain more exposure on LinkedIn, share your thoughts on industry news in a LinkedIn Pulse post. If seen by a potential employer, this content could be your fast-track to an interview. You could also add keywords such as ‘Nottingham graduate’, ‘digital PR’ or ‘copywriter’ to your bio.
Key takeaway: Make sure that your LinkedIn profile can be easily found by future employers.