Blog – Why an internship after my first year was the best decision I’ve made

News Page 23rd November 2018

Second year BSc Marketing Management student, Jessica Compton, started a summer internship this year at marketing company PragmatiQ Solutions, in Milton Keynes, and is now working for them on a part-time basis.

Jessica is an avid blogger on LinkedIn on Marketing related topics, in her latest blog she gives her top tips on securing an internship and explains why internships are a good route into marketing and a model that her fellow students should follow…

 

After my first year at university, I thought about spending the summer working at my retail job. It was good money, and I was comfortable with it, but it was ‘just a job’. It struck me that I had four months where I could instead throw myself into an industry that interested me, learn about it on the frontline, get paid and explore the opportunities.

With that in mind, I began looking for a summer internship in marketing.

I first discovered PragmatiQ Solutions on a job listing website where they were advertising for a social media and digital marketing apprenticeship. I called and asked if they’d instead offer it as an internship, and they invited me over for an informal interview. That went well and after a more formal interview, I was offered the position just a couple of days later.

It was a fast-moving process, but wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t reached out and taken a chance.

Why I find marketing so exciting

The thing that first attracted me to marketing is the fact there’s so many branches stemming from it; you can specialise in any area you like. I’m also quite a creative person, and the fact marketing enables you to put that creativity to use makes it a fantastic career choice for people like me.

My interest in marketing is quite broad, but as each day passes, I’m exploring each area further. Social media, in particular, really interests me due to what the future holds for it. When you use it personally, you interact with brands from the consumer’s perspective, but when you’re on the opposite end of the fence, your whole perspective on social media changes. Conversely, trying to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes is really challenging; you have to think about how the business is portrayed on social media, and give very careful consideration as to how posts are worded. You go from being an audience member to someone who’s targeting that audience, and it takes some getting used to!

For instance, people consume content on Instagram very differently to Twitter, therefore you really have to get into the mindset of the consumer and think about how they interact with each social platform in order to create the most engaging content for them.

As a consumer, you might think you know this stuff, but when you enter the world of social media marketing, you realise there are so many different personas, platforms and approaches needed to get the right message across.

From academic learning to work on the frontline

Applying my academic learning to the real world of business has been fascinating. It’s particularly surprised me just how much marketing influences the rest of the business. My degree has thus far focused on marketing as a closed entity – you don’t really learn about how it impacts sales, or how the research you undertake as a marketer influences leads. At PragmatiQ Solutions, I’ve been given access to these other areas, and discovering how the role of a marketer is so influential throughout the business has been a real eye opener.

During uni, you think you already know quite a lot. I thought “I’ve done a year of this, I’ve got good grades, so I’m ready to apply this knowledge”, but as it turns out, you don’t know that much! The way marketing is applied in business is very different when you’re experiencing it first-hand, which is why internships are so valuable in my opinion. Knowledge is just knowledge – seeing it applied in business is where you can put yourself a step ahead of everyone else when you graduate.

One thing I find particularly exciting about marketing is the way technology is constantly developing. It’s only going to get smarter, and marketing puts you in a prime position to take advantage of it. You’ve only got to look at what’s happened in the last few years with VR, AI and social to realise that as a marketer, you have the opportunity to work with some amazing tools.

Despite this, I think traditional forms of marketing are still important and shouldn’t be dismissed; networking, leaflet drops and exhibitions should go hand-in-hand with more contemporary forms of marketing. I’m learning that to engage with consumers at specific touch points, you have to use a variety of communication methods, and with technology developing so quickly, I think we can get a bit lost in focusing solely on the digital element.

People still go to trade shows, they still open regular mail and during my time at PragmatiQ Solutions, I’ve also discovered the value of face-to-face networking. This has enabled me to see first-hand how you can nurture relationships outside of digital marketing. At uni, you of course have lots of opportunities to meet people, but at work, you’re more exposed to networking events, and that in turn provides more opportunities to grow your connections.

The future of marketing: challenges and opportunities

There are clearly some challenges ahead for marketing. Automation, for instance, is something that has huge benefits for businesses, but may equally put certain roles at risk (although, arguably, there’ll always be the need for someone to setup and monitor the automation, and it’s important we don’t lose the personal touch). Data privacy is also a concern, but providing GDPR rules are followed, I think the data we work with as marketers will be more useful, relevant and valuable as a result.

For any students considering an internship, I’d say go for it! The main challenge most students encounter during these early years is gaining experience, and internships put you in the world of work far earlier than if you simply wait for your degree to finish. You just need to be proactive in finding businesses that will take you on for that period, therefore the best advice I can give is to talk to as many people as possible; let them know what you’re doing, the experience you want to gain and how willing you are to help out on the frontline.

I wouldn’t be sat in the PragmatiQ Solutions office now if I had taken their apprenticeship advert at face value. By taking a chance and asking if a shorter placement was possible, I landed the internship I’d been looking for and I’m so glad I did, because I’ve already learned so much!

For more information on BSc Marketing Management, you can visit the course page.

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