Harriet Brown

I work as a Graduate Client Manager for Nielsen Global Consumer and Media Insights. As part of my role I report to the Client Service Director and analyse data for clients in order to inform business decisions. Throughout the one year Graduate Programme I am required to pass accreditation activities in order to complete the Graduate Programme and continue as a Client Manager in the business.

I left education in order to maintain full time employment aged 16, so that I could pay rent as I moved out of the family home. Over the next 8 years I worked in various hospitality roles before working up to Assistant Manager of a fantastic real ale pub. Throughout this time I pursued and gained on-the-job qualifications. I was really lucky with my employers, who supported my development professionally and academically. I also benefited from a great support network of friends who helped with my application to University.

As part of my study I was exposed to lots of industry professionals, including the company I have gone on to gain employment with. Our course included live client projects where we were able to work with real industry brands, agencies and stakeholders. This was an invaluable part of my studies and provided a real practical insight into the working world we were learning about.

In my second year we were offered the opportunity to participate in an extra-curricular business case study competition. I was part of the team that won the UK heat and we went on to compete in the European finals. This experience although extremely challenging alongside working, studying and work experience was one of the most valuable aspects of my university journey. It introduced me to the part of the industry and the company I have gone on to start my career with.

As part of my course, I also participated in the Advertising study tour to New York. This trip exposed us to even more industry professionals and agencies and gave a real insight into the global nature of the industry and opened my eyes to the potential career opportunities available. My biggest tip is take business cards, make connections!

I think I have been very lucky in that a huge amount from my course is applicable in my work role. That is why I wanted to make sure I gained a role in the industry I studied in my degree.  In particular the analysis and presentation projects that were prevalent throughout my course will be invaluable as that will form a big part of my role. Presenting in London as part of our final year live client project was an experience I will never forget.

One of my projects focussed upon what the advertising industry feels graduates lack when seeking employment, the key skills that were identified in this project were work experience and commercial awareness. This then inspired me to seek industry work experience alongside my studies. In my second year, at one point I was juggling my studies, my weekend job and my marketing work experience, this was definitely worthwhile.

Throughout my course I sought employment within the industry I was studying. I secured a two week work experience slot in the marketing team of a FTSE 100 company and worked hard so that it was extended to a 5 month paid work placement in my second year. I worked part time around my studies, this really helped as I was able to see the theories I was learning in real business practice. Initially the company were unable to extend my contract into my final year, so I did some temping, however later in the year they needed additional support and offered me a role. I worked throughout my final year and was offered a full time role upon graduation. This was challenging, however, gaining the experience was worth it. Employers like to see experience and although it can be a high pressure situation working and studying, I genuinely believe it added to both my studies and career prospects.

I have gone from working in a fast food restaurant on minimum wage to being offered my dream job coming out of University. In order to gain relevant work experience, my employer at the start of my degree adapted my role to include some degree related duties (marketing).

My plans for the future are to pass the Graduate Programme to the highest standard I can and to embark on the rest of my career in the industry I studied in my degree.

My advice to students is to pursue work experience and industry placements. Embrace opportunities the university offers, it makes the difference between a good candidate and a great candidate. Use LinkedIn!

Studying at the University of Northampton was a great opportunity but you have to be prepared to put the work in to gain the most out of your experience! If I was to describe my university experience in ten words or less it would be – Challenging, life-changing, fast paced, invaluable, crazy, fantastic, hard and worth it.