It’s never too early to start gaining the experience you need to get ahead in your chosen career, as Edge Hill University graduate Lee Preston can testify.
After completing a BSc in Leisure and Tourism Management, Lee returned to Edge Hill to study for an MA in Marketing and Communications.
“As an Edge Hill Alumni, I was eligible for a discount on a Post Graduate course, which was extremely helpful when I returned to do my Masters. On both occasions I absolutely loved my time there. I met some great people, was taught by some brilliant lecturers and had access to some excellent facilities.”
While studying towards his MA, Lee secured relevant work experience at Southport-based general insurance company Paymentshield. He was in the right place at the right time when a job came up after he finished his studies and was taken on as a Marketing Executive.
“I was quite lucky in the sense that I managed to get a role within the company that was in keeping with my area of study.”
Lee cites his studies at Edge Hill as equipping him with the skills he needed not only to get the job he wanted, but also to meet its diverse demands.
“I learnt a lot from a theoretical point of view which I can apply to my role, including strategic marketing, the principles of marketing and how to apply my learning to a practical situation.
“As the team is fairly small and the turnover of work is very high, it means the role is hugely varied and no two days are the same. A typical day can range from providing a brief for an advertisement, writing an article to promote our proposition to our customers and advisers, organising sales events and stock to be delivered, as well as providing campaign support.”
Being involved at every stage of the process, from inception to delivery, is the most enjoyable part of the job for Lee. One such example was a Fantasy World Cup competition he devised to run during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as a way to interact with the company’s clients in a novel way.
“It was a good exercise to bolster our relationship with existing clients and encourage those that had not used us for a while to engage with us,” says Lee. The campaign was a success, and resulted in a significant rise in the number of sales.”
As well giving him the chance to put his studies into practice, Lee claims that his time doing work experience had a huge hand in him getting the job, and he encourages current students to be proactive.
“If I were to offer some advice, it would be to not wait until the end of your course to start moving with career prospects. Contact companies you are interested in working for and enquire about their graduate opportunities, go to graduate fairs, utilise the Edge Hill website to see what graduate vacancies are available.
“Experience is something that always seems to be asked for by recruiters, so either while you’re at University or upon leaving, try to get experience with a company in a work experience capacity, even if this is unpaid.”
Aside from giving students a taste of the working world, it’s commonplace for employers to use unpaid work experience as a recruitment method, as it gives them an opportunity to see if future graduates can do the job. In Lee’s case, Paymentshield liked what they saw on his placement, which put him in a strong position when a job came up.
“At the company I work for, we have had a number of people come in to do work experience with us, some have gone on to be recruited by us and others have been provided with a good reference for other roles with different companies.”