Next up in our #graduatestories series is Matt Ferris, a Senior Marketing Executive from Bath. Matt graduated from Ulster University in 2016 with a degree in PR. During his time at university, he undertook a year-long work placement within the university as a Marcomms Assistant, as well as a few internships before working as a PR and Communications Assistant alongside my final year. Having recently been promoted to Senior Marketing Executive (marketing lead) for FoodBev Media, a B2B publisher and media company in the food and beverage industry, he oversees all marketing activities and stakeholder engagement. Here he takes us on his marketing journey and provides his top tips for anyone who is looking for their first marketing job:
How did you get into marketing in the first place?
I love words. Words are my jam. From the age of 15 or 16 I wanted to be a writer/journalist but I would also marvel over witty advertising copy whenever I saw it. I gradually developed more of a passion for business, so marketing seemed like a natural blend of the two and now I write words that (hopefully) mean business!
Did your university degree/experience help you when it came to your first marketing job?
Definitely, yes. I purposefully chose a degree with a sandwich year placement as I thought it would give me the right mix of theory and practice, and my job during my final year allowed me to put everything I was learning into action! This gave me a great head-start when it came to finding that daunting first job.
How did you identify which area of marketing you wanted to get into?
Honestly, I had no idea! Although I've had a relatively short career so far, I've gained experience in PR and media relations, email marketing/content, copywriting, events management, SEO and social media and worked both agency and client-side, and I've loved them all. I think, for me, it was important to try as many things as possible before settling on a niche or specialism. Is there anything you’d have done differently starting out in your career? I probably would have tried to develop skills in HTML/CSS and graphic design early on as more and more there's a convergence where employers are looking for a jack of all trades rather than the traditional set roles.
What advice do you have for graduates looking to get into marketing?
Gain as much experience as you can as early as you can, but don't sell yourself short. Unpaid internships are rarely worth your time and the right employer will know your value. Don't worry if you only have a vague idea that you "want to do marketing" as you'll soon work out what the right path is for you.
What advice would you give graduates who are currently searching for their first marketing job?
Focus more on the employer than the role, as cultural fit can make the wrong job at the right organisation better than the right job at the wrong organisation. Don't worry if you don't know whether you want a creative role like copywriting or a role in client management but do try to work out the basics. For instance, do you want to work for a large employer or a small employer where you might have more responsibility early on? Decide as well if you are more drawn to the fast-paced agency life where you're juggling multiple projects or a more strategic structure client-side with more long-term objectives. Learn how to sell yourself as well, and treat your search as a marketing project in itself, with you as the brand. Read up on the latest marketing trends on blogs like Marketing Week and Campaign and of course OnlyMarketingJobs!
If you could give your post-graduate-self any piece of advice, what would it be knowing what you know now about the industry?
Take the same approach as you might with yoga: Try to be flexible and always let your reach slightly exceed your grasp. You never know what position you'll end up in!
Some fabulous advice here from Matt on how to approach your marketing career. A little bit of advice is just what you need to boost your confidence when it comes to searching for marketing jobs. For more inspiration, check out our #GraduateStories blog and enjoy!