The transition from student life to working in digital marketing

Hannah Williamson
By Hannah WilliamsonInsights Graduate
6 minutes to read

As the end of my master’s quickly approached, the panic set in.

I was still completely undecided of what I really wanted to do as a career. Family and friends were telling me that the ‘real’ opportunities for graduates were in London. But I knew I wanted to avoid London at all costs and stay in Leeds. I was clueless about what my opportunities were, especially as my BA in Sociology and Social policy and MA in Social Research didn’t direct me to any specific career path.

After applying for a variety of jobs in different industries, I landed my first job at a letting agent. But after my first day there, I instantly realised the job wasn’t for me. I couldn’t use the research skills I had invested so much in developing and the career progression didn’t excite me. This forced me to think long and hard about what I really wanted to do, and I quickly realised that the answer was research. I particularly enjoyed the research aspects of both my degrees, as it allowed me to thoroughly explore lots of different topics that interested me. So when I was reflecting on what I wanted to do instead of working for a letting agent, my passion for research and ability to achieve high grades in all my research project assessments persuaded me to consider a career where I could regularly use lots of different research methods.

I spent days searching Indeed, LinkedIn and various other sites for research-based careers and discovered Leeds was a major hub for digital marketing. After reading about the industry, digital marketing and market research instantly sparked my interest as I realised it was actually very relevant to my degree and sounded interesting.

I decided to step outside my comfort zone and apply for the role of Insights Graduate at Enjoy Digital, even though I didn’t have any experience or a degree related to marketing. With graduate roles you learn on the job rather than being expected to know it all on your first day, so it’s great if you have no prior experience.

The agency structure of Enjoy Digital particularly appealed to me due to the variety of clients you can work with, in both the public and private sectors. In order to overcome my lack of experience in marketing, I outlined my research skills and previous job roles to demonstrate how I thought I was suitable when applying for the job.

Why pursue a career in digital marketing

Three months in and I can confidently say that following my intuition and leaving the letting agent for a career in digital marketing is the best decision I have made.

Digital marketing is a thriving, versatile and evolving industry. No day is the same as I’m always working on a variety of projects for different clients across different sectors and industries. Alongside this, I regularly collaborate with different teams, from SEO and Paid Media, to Development and Client Services. This variety means I’m constantly learning, as well as socialising!

I’ve also built up a good foundation of knowledge on other digital marketing services through different training schemes and courses. This includes everything from SEO to courses specific to my research role. Enjoy has loads of training opportunities, and they continue to shape this around my individual needs which are constantly changing as I progress in my role.

I’ve also had opportunities to attend university talks and represent the agency to inspire others to consider a career in market research and digital marketing. I am always advancing my skills and knowledge in my graduate role and look forward to what the future holds.

The endless opportunities for career progression are another reason of why you should consider a career in digital marketing!

An average day as an Insights Graduate at Enjoy Digital

What I enjoy most about my role as an Insights Graduate is being able to see the real impact of the research we conduct. The insights gained from the research allows clients to implement changes that bring real and positive change to their company.

Although this sounds cliché, there is no average day in a digital marketing agency. However, my role as an Insights Graduate regularly involves:

  • Planning and conducting both quantitative and qualitative research
  • Attending brainstorms to review findings and suggest recommendations
  • Writing reports and presenting findings and reports to clients
  • Attending various meetings with project teams and clients
  • Client calls to discuss projects
  • Investigating and learning new research methods
  • Travelling around the country to conduct fieldwork and attend swanky research venues (some with free bacon sandwiches!)

But it’s not all work, there’s also plenty of nights out, agency breakfast, drinks at 4pm every Friday and an open(ish) bar on the last Friday of every month.

Work-life balance is really important if you want to thrive and it’s great that Enjoy has struck the balance well.

Advice for students going from graduate to working life

There are so many different roles within digital marketing, you’re sure to find one that suits your skills and interests, so don’t assume that your degree or discipline isn’t relevant! Take initiative and review your options and aspirations at least a couple of months before you finish your degree. While doing so, try to get into a good routine before you enter the workplace, as this will help you adjust and will make the earlier starts easier!

The idea of entering full-time work can be overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, throw yourself in and don’t be afraid of a challenge. Just remember, you finally get weekends to yourself…no more worrying about finishing that essay!

Most importantly, try to find a company that you feel comfortable in. It’s important you enjoy your work environment if you want to be successful. While it can be hard to gauge that just from an interview, listen to your gut feeling.

If you have an interest in digital marketing, then go for it…It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a marketing degree!

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More about Hannah Williamson

Hannah is our insights graduate. She has a Master’s in Social Research and is passionate about conducting customer research to help our clients with their challenges.