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University or Experience within the industry or a combination of both?

Journalism under-graduate, Charlotte Carter finds out.

Charlotte Carter

Charlotte Carter

University has become an off-putting prospect for many young people across the country. Fees have tripled and so has the loan at the end of the degree. Graduate jobs are harder to come by and fear amongst students that they will end up unemployed or in a non-graduate job is sky high.

When I was investigating which university to go to three years ago, I found myself torn. Should I stay or should I go? I was concerned that fees were set to triple and the prognosis of being saddled with the debt in excess of £27,000 before I even started my working life was not very appealing. Added to that, the job market was dire. I wasn’t the only one teetering on the fence.

While I was weighing up my options, I thought about a much-debated question within the media and creative industry as a whole. Is a degree what counts in the eyes of an employer or is it experience they want. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. Some argued experience was much more valuable, while others maintained education was priceless. I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

Things have changed within universities up and down the country; offering courses to students that gives them hands on work, as well as a chance to gain work experience with well appointed companies. Students are required to learn industry standard software, as well as attend press conferences, court procedures and other conventions to understand how it feels to be working within the industry. It’s not all lectures and Essays about what you will be doing after finishing your studies.

Universities now understand that work experience and industry connections, in any degree, are vital for their students to succeed after graduation. They are becoming more accredited for their connections within the industry.

Work experience is vital on any CV. Employers will be discouraged by graduates who haven’t explored their skills through work experience or internships. Aside from that, it’s a great way to showcase your talents and show your enthusiasm. Education alone is no longer a good enough weapon, and neither is industry experience. Employers want graduates who have had a range of experience as well as extensive knowledge.

It’s a competition for any job, so you have to stand out. University is hard work, but if you can make the most of the holiday breaks using your skills and expanding your contacts through work experience. If you do that, then why wouldn’t you be in with a good chance?

Although experience offers you a direct link into the industry, in many instances there is a certain barrier you hit, and in order to go further, you have to have knowledge. Showing dedication and ability to work under pressure whilst studying for a degree, shows prospective employers that you can multi-task under pressure and to tight deadlines.

Going to university and getting a degree might be an expensive choice, but bear in mind that education alongside work experience is priceless, when compared to one without the other.

You may have heard of a well established media guru who didn’t go to university and how far they’ve got. But truth be told, how many of those are out there? Small percentages get through the career ladder with experience through luck. Your chances automatically double with a degree as well.

I don’t regret my decision to go to university. I have been able to study as well as get work experience with people in the industry. My contacts are constantly growing and so is my education. It’s a daunting prospect of to start work experience, after all you are stepping into the unknown, but life is about taking risks. The more you do something, the easier it becomes.

So, in my opinion, it’s not a question of which one is better, it’s a case of doing both.

Charlotte Carter is a second year Journalism undergraduate from Southampton Solent.

“If I don’t move soon I’ll be stuck in the same position.”

Dear Helen

I’m a mature woman with a successful management career in PR at a privately owned company. I’ve been in the same position for the past six years and in that time have developed and grown a successful team, taking on new responsibilities for Public Affairs and social media. I’m well paid and have a good degree of autonomy. However, I am worried that this is as far as I can go in my current role. The person I report to is a company director, a similar age as me and has reached the top of her career. I’ve invested a lot of time over the past few years into my professional development. I’d like to move up a step and believe that if I don’t move soon I’ll be stuck in the same position for the remainder of my career. The clock is very definitely clicking. However, I am also the sole earner with two children so cannot afford to take too many risks.

I’d value any advice,

Kind regards

Jenny

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Hello Jenny,

 You sound reasonably content in your current role. You mention excellent pay, a great team and a good degree of autonomy due to your proven performance over the last six years. For most people that would be ideal and sounds like quite a lot to give up? Moving roles to a new employer brings risk as well as potential reward so although you will undoubtedly move into a more senior role with better pay; you will also have to build up that personal brand equity all over again with a new boss before you are a proven member of the team. As the sole earner this is a big step and I understand your concerns but there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the risks involved.

 Have you given your current employer a chance to offer you what you want? If you haven’t done so already, why not have an open discussion with your direct boss or even your boss’s boss about what career options are available to you – maybe they think you are content and therefore are not aware of your burning ambition? If no career options are available in the short to medium term at your current employer then I agree it’s time to start to look elsewhere – the old adage of ‘it’s easier to get a job whilst in a job’ is so true.

 Before you commence your search, prepare by writing a list of what a new job would have to offer in order for it to be worth the risk of moving – there are the obvious things such as a title and more pay but what about the actual deliverables in the role itself; what is your current boss doing in her role which you would excel at? And just as important, what aren’t you prepared to give up; flexibility over hours of work, location of company, pension and benefits, additional training, budget for resource, reporting lines?

 In my experience of hiring senior executives, the women are in many cases more reticent when it comes to negotiating the terms of the ‘deal’ so knowing what you really need to change and what you are prepared to compromise on will make you more confident during any offer conversation. Depending on how much a new employer wants you, you could even consider asking for an extended probation period, golden parachute or sign-on bonus all of which can help mitigate your financial risk when moving to a new role… but importantly don’t communicate the fear of financial risk to the prospective employer as this will weaken your position during negotiations.

 One final point Jenny, I wouldn’t generally suggest this as a course of action but in your specific situation, even when you have a signed offer on the table it might still worth going back to your current employer before jumping ship entirely. Mitigate your risk but go for that promotion.

Good luck!

Kind regards,

Helen

 

My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

“Age not a problem? I believe it is.”

 

Dear Helen,

I am 65 and have extensive experience in “media” for more than four decades….and although most companies say age, not a problem, I believe it is. Not many of us can afford to retire. Although I do still handle some publicity work and broadcast, it seems that the jobs market is a bit of a block end.

Any thoughts?

Alan Thompson

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Hello Alan,

Age really shouldn’t be a barrier to employment and indeed legally with very few exceptions, it can’t be but whether a candidate has relevant knowledge for the role is a determining factor. Four decades in media means you will have a vast knowledge of the industry but depending on the role and employer; four decades in media isn’t necessarily an indicator of current capability or future performance.

Media is a challenging industry for us over 40s. For example can you demonstrate to a prospective employer both your own personal consumption of digital media as well as communicate an understanding of how brands can utilise content effectively across paid, owned, earned, shared and utilise data to target consumers effectively? If you can then this will help your chances of securing a role but the sad fact is Alan, it’s hard for any of us to stay up to date with the speed of change in this industry.

So what to do? Have you thought about searching for roles where you can utilise transferable skills such as financial or people management? Or even use additional life skills such as coaching or even hobbies such as gardening? By listing all the things you can do that are not sector specific, you will broaden your focus of what could be a job opportunity both in and outside of the media industry thereby increasing your chances of success. Other sectors that are known to be more age friendly include agriculture and forestry, education, hospitality, utilities, government and housing, retail, customer services, public and charity sectors.

Once you’ve broadened your CV to include all transferrable skills, start your search again on sites such as this one, plus specialist job sites listing jobs available with ‘age friendly’ employers. One quick search and I found 1,042 jobs under ‘senior appointments’ on a UK job search website.

Another option is to look at retraining via opportunities such as the recently formed government apprenticeship schemes. In the past year, 11,790 people aged over 50 have found work through apprenticeships in public services such as prisons, parks, and healthcare.

Alan good luck and please don’t think you have to stay in media just to stay employed.

Kind regards,

Helen

 

My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

A Diary of Internship Woes – Part One

‘Sally’ is a 20 year student at a leading Russell Group university, hunting down a third year placement

I have been to placement meetings; I have been armed with a handbook, and there is an online forum that shows upcoming placement opportunities yet it still seems like I’m fighting an uphill battle and I’m doing so all by myself.

I knew it was my responsibility to find a placement yet often I ask myself, as more and more people secure yearlong placements, is it about who you know or what you know?

The process is tough but not as tough as being caught off guard and so it is vital that you learn not only everything about the company but also yourself. That is before preparation of the famous ‘unusual’ questions deployed to make you think on your feet in an interview, but for me the tricky questions are self-evaluating and knowing what to include and exclude within tasks given to you.

What is interesting about you? Do I have one key trait that will separate me and show my passion?

It is only through a time consuming process of self-reflection that you find out if the placement is suited to you as much as you are to them.
I knew before I started applying that it would take a lot of time, but further issues have now surfaced. Such as will it affect my studies, considering I have more than twice the workload now? For every one application, just the first stage, takes three full days of work which is hard when you have to do reading before a lecture, go to the lecture, write up the lecture, read for the seminar – the process is time consuming.

It is not just the time taken to prepare for questions and knowing the company inside out but it is emotionally tiring, this emotional investment is what we are not told about. The further on in the process the more you want it. Yet the more rejections you get too the more you think maybe I should revert back to a three year course. I know people who have huge stress issues over what to do if they don’t get one. But for now, it is on to the next one.

Graduation-640

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Marcus’ is her concerned dad

As I contemplate the cost of all this my biggest concern is that Sally might lose the enthusiasm to obtain a degree and question its worth. When I went to university the state paid for all our tuition and accommodation costs. It never occurred to us that there was a cost! But the university experience gave my generation such confidence to try and tackle any job, to change industries – two or three times actually – and know that I’d learn how to learn. Today’s undergraduates have to learn how to cope with tens of reject letters, and that’s even before they’ve sat down to do their Finals. That’s not why I wanted Sally to get a degree.

 

Should I change course, knowing that I’m not sure if I will succeed?

Hello my name is Ammi and I’m currently in college for a degree in marketing, I’ve always been passionate about fashion but my college just open a new career fashion design with a focus on marketing, my question would be should I change knowing that I’m not sure if I will succeed or not or keep it in the safe career as marketing?

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

 

Hello Ammi,

If we only did things in life that were safe, we wouldn’t have advanced very far as a human race. Is this about making the safe decision or the right decision? When considering these two, I would advise that it is better to do something you are really passionate about as inevitably there will be times when the work gets too hard, the hours too long, the people too difficult, the money too little and if you really love what you do, you might just find enough energy to see your way through it. 

 

 

My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

My dyspraxia is preventing me from fulfilling my potential. Help!

Dear Helen,

I thought I would write to you and I got your details from Brand Republic and what you will read below is something you perhaps haven’t encountered before.

If you look at my Linkedin profile you will see I am an professional with diverse experiences in Sports Marketing, Sponsorship, Media, Advertising. I have had good success in these but you will see also that I have darted around a bit and not followed a systematic career path like a lot of other people.

This is not to say I lack any of the qualities needed to be very successful: good qualifications, passion, enthusiasm, drive, determination, creative, original thinker, solution solver, attention to detail, seeing the bigger picture etc

However, I have Dyspraxia and I believe therefore I have not advanced as far as I have ought to given my capabilities and competencies.

I genuinely have good rapport with people but have great difficult dealing with the hustle and bustle of office environments. This causes me great frustration as I  am then unable to produce the level of work I am more that capable of producing.

In fact my strategic abilities, the ability to spot commercial revenue opportunities has been very strong but then I have had the difficulty with administration and using all the company systems etc. It is not that I am incapable of using these just that I don’t see how to use them as clearly as others and have to learn systems and apply them to memory. Many times people don’t have the patience to show me as they have their own agendas, timetables, pressures etc

I know for a fact if I could find the right commercial position in advertising, media spheres, was given extra administrative, system training prior to starting a lucrative role I would fly! Unfortunately. up to now I have not really fulfilled my potential – even though I have done some great work for the companies I have worked for.

It is not all bad at all as I am good at strategy, commercial partnership development, have a creative eye, can present well, have a a steely determination, burning ambition to have a very successful business career and speak several European Languages which has meant I have been able to develop a lot of lucrative partnerships with big brand clients.

I am definitely not your normal candidate and have a lot to offer the right employer.

Just looking for that CEO, Director who can recognize/tap into my talents, my abilities and help to channel them accordingly.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your suggestions/recommendations.

Regards,

Alex

 

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Dear Alex,

 

I am not in a position to comment on any effect dyspraxia may or may not have had on your career trajectory, nor do I have enough information from you to know whether under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act, your previous employers took reasonable adjustments to accommodate your needs.

 However, as requested I have viewed your LinkedIn profile and I noticed two things; firstly that you have spent an average of 2+ years in each business since being an intern which is quite acceptable tenure at this stage of your career and secondly, that you are currently an account director, a level achieved in less than 10 years which again is what I’d expect to see on your resume. Your personal expectations may exceed mine as an employer Alex but I wouldn’t necessarily think you had in any way under achieved in your career to date.

 If you have not done so already, may I suggest that when you are offered a role with an employer you request a meeting with HR or the Learning and Development Manager to share knowledge about your dyspraxia and how the employer can give appropriate support to minimise its symptoms and maximise your performance (and therefore value) for their business. It’s often a lack of understanding rather interest that make employers not offer the help that is required.

 http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-adults/workplace-employers/    

 Kind regards,

Helen

My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

 

Am I being foolish to think I can switch careers?

Hi Helen,

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

 

I’m a Senior Account Manager with six years total experience, and desperate to change to a more strategic role: be it as a junior planner, innovation consultant or trend forecaster. Truth be told, I fell into account management after university as a way of getting my foot in the door to being a planner, but have been unable to make this move.

I’ve assessed my skillset, and know that account handling is not the best use of my skills, however there seems to be a great stigma about changing department. I’ve been fortunate to have had some guidance and positive feedback by a few Planning Directors or Innovation Consultants along the way, yet working in a small agency, this has been difficult to turn from theory into reality.

I’m now just over 30 and still in a job I’m unhappy in. It terrifies me. Am I  being foolish to think I can switch careers?

Any advice greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

In Turmoil

 

Hello In Turmoil,

Having read your request I’m left feeling slightly confused and in turmoil myself. As a senior account manager is it not your job, in part, to lead your client account and be responsible for directing well thought through ideas on how to grow their business? As an account manager is it not your duty to ensure you understand your client well enough to know what new technology, consumer trends, and economic factors will impact the potential growth opportunities for their business and share these with them? Is it not your responsibility therefore to stay well informed and relevant? I understand you are in a smallish agency so maybe you don’t believe this is possible where you are currently but maybe it’s worth trying this approach before turning to the ‘innovation consultant’ for the answer to your clients problems.

If your client is more successful due to your thought leadership, so will you be and more opportunities will naturally open up for you – either where you are, or elsewhere. It’s sometimes easier to change what we do where we are before we try to do it somewhere else.

Kind Regards,

Helen

My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

Are you guilty of hoarding in your CV?

CV WritersSome people treat their CV like a savings account. They keep adding to it over time, bit by bit. Sometimes they take money out but mostly it’s just left to build. This may be a sound approach for long term financial planning. However, it is a disastrous approach for your CV.  You end up with either a totally unbalanced picture of your work history or a CV as long as your arm. Neither of which are going to impress employers. We can broadly break down different job seeker approaches into three categories.

The Hoarder

Some people only ever add to their CV and never take anything away. This is the equivalent to hoarding. We have all felt sorry for those people on the TV who simply cannot throw anything away. Houses filled – literally to eye level – full of absolutely everything that person has ever owned. Of course, most of it is completely useless.  They know that but can’t help keeping it anyway. The hoarder will end up with a CV that could be 5 to 10 pages or more in length.

The Collector

When someone starts a collection of say fossils or stamps they begin with lots of enthusiasm. Over time that passion wanes and the collection begins to fade. Many people set about writing their CV with the best of intentions. It starts off well in the early days. However, the latest jobs gets progressively thin on detail. The result is an unbalanced CV that focuses too much on the early part of a career. At interview do you really want to be asked about the results of that ‘Y2K’ project you carried out in 1999 to prevent all the computers crashing on January 1st?

The Fresher

The fresher has a healthy approach to life in general. They keep hold of the really important historical stuff but embrace new things. The fresher will take a new approach each time they prepare their CV. They’ll be ruthless in editing out information from early jobs so they can wax lyrical about the most recent work. This is just great, as it’s exactly what employers want to hear about. They may even chop some early jobs out completely.  Those days counting the correct number of newspapers for your bag are not so important now you are an experienced media planner.

Needless to say, the fresher’s CV is going to be the most effective. Employers are generally interested in what applicants have been doing in the last 5 years. Certainly anything further back than 10 years can be summarised. Give yourself a 2 page CV format and you know roughly the amount of space you have to work with. It’s always worth keeping mind that the average time spent reading a CV is less than 30 seconds. This brings sharply into focus just how important it is to take a fresh approach to your CV every time.

Neville Rose is Director of CV Writers who offer a professional CV writing service including a free CV review

Brand Republic Jobs is a specialist job site for media, marketing and advertising jobs from the publisher of Campaign and Marketing.  Search the latest media, marketing and advertising jobs here >>

Follow us: @brandrepublic on Twitter

Is there anything I can do to get out of my situation?

Hi Helen,

I am 24 years old, and I have graduated from university a couple of years ago. I went for a degree that is “safe” as opposed to something I am passionate about, and I ended up with a 2:2. This has closed many doors for me, such as getting funding for an MA or graduate schemes or internships. Since graduating, I have been in dead-end jobs – I currently work in a call centre – and despite sending out applications for jobs and internships every day, I am not getting anything. My friends from university live in central London and have well paid jobs; we rarely speak to each other as I don’t fit in with their glamorous lifestyles.

Is there anything I can do to get out of my situation?

Thank you in advance,

P.

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

 

Dear P,

I am really sorry to hear about your current circumstances, it is a situation shared by many students who for one reason or another, left University with a degree grade that hasn’t opened as many doors asthey’d hoped for. Read More »

Do I really need a marketing / digital qualification?

Hi Helen,

I have worked in market research and in the marketing department of my university for few months while studying. I am currently working in product support/client experience for digital marketing and event marketing software. I have started my fashion & beauty blog few months ago and have also been approached by few upcoming brands to feature them on my blog. I am looking to transition into fashion and beauty marketing as a full-time career. Do you think getting a formal fashion marketing/digital marketing qualification would be helpful or should I look for some internships or freelancing?

Any advice is much appreciated.

Thanks so much,

D.

 

Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Hi D.,

It makes a welcome change to get an email from someone who is already helping themselves get what they want out of their career.  You are already gaining relevant experience in both digital and marketing as well as writing your own blog.

Read More »

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