February 7, 2019, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Growing in the midst of life’s challenges

This week we hear from Didem Gorcegiz about her PPN postgraduate placement with Verve Garden Design.

At the age of 43, after working in digital marketing companies for 20 years, I felt it was time for a change. My plan was to study for a master’s degree in International Social Policy (MAISP) at University of Nottingham, focusing my research on Big Data Ethics. I felt that with this qualification and experience I would be able to return to my home country Turkey and try to make positive changes in terms of data collection policies.

While studying to achieve this dream though I also needed to earn some money. I was looking at the UON Graduate School’s postgraduate placements (PPN) website one day and saw a vacancy for a Digital Marketer. I couldn’t believe my luck and applied immediately. To my surprise, I was offered the position 5 minutes after the job interview, which was very encouraging.

Lorraine Young, the owner of Verve – the company where I was placed, is an exceptionally bright woman who was formerly a professor at the UoN, and started up her own garden design business, which will ultimately become an online distance learning course on garden design. My job was to provide a content management service, creating and curating content for the Verve social media accounts. In addition, I was responsible for social media strategy, Google Trends, Google Keyword reports and checking up on analytics when needed.

Although I had prior experience in the digital and mobile field my knowledge was based on users in Turkey, so it was great to get to know a very different marketplace. British consumer behaviour and the required tone of communication, is a completely different ball game here than my country.  In addition, I’d always worked with big international corporations and very different budget constraints, so it was valuable to gain a different type of experience with a start-up company. Being paid to learn about British digital industry was an utterly priceless experience!

“my placement job was a great help for my mental health as it provided me with certainty, normality and routine”

During the placement my life suddenly took a challenging turn when I learned that I had a serious health issue. My studies were drastically affected, my future became quite unknown, and everything became heart wrenching for a while. Being an international student here, I had no family, not many friends, in other words no strong support system. I wasn’t allowed to fly, so I couldn’t go back to my country either. I had to keep it together and my placement job was a great help for my mental health as it provided me with certainty, normality and routine.

Lorraine was very helpful with my coursework, very understanding with my condition and gave me flexible, remote working hours. Learning something new while doing something familiar (as in digital marketing) was a helpful, stress-free distraction and allowed me to create value instead of ruminating.

My story has a good ending. I had a successful operation and Verve Garden Design has quite an impressive Social Media presence. 12.000 followers and 3.5 Million Monthly viewers on Pinterest and still counting! As a final surprise, Lorraine encouraged me to be self-employed in the UK and I felt confident enough to apply for an entrepreneurship visa to start up my own digital consultancy business, which I wouldn’t even dare, if it weren’t for this placement. As of now, I am still waiting to hear from the Home Office about my application and am still working for Verve Garden Design.

If you’re a student interested in doing a postgraduate placement visit our webpage for more information, or check out current opportunities at the Placements Portal

Posted in Placements