In case you didn't know, for the last 6 months I've been studying MSc Marketing at Salford University in the hope of becoming a Content Creator in Manchester when I graduate. In just 6 months I've been elected the course student representative at the Student's Union, completed 6 assessments in 3 modules, qualified for Gold Level Salford Student Success Award, completed a 1 month internship at a social shopping platform start up and be asked to come back for a further 3 months! All this is great, but what happens in September when I'm released into the 'real world'? When I was looking at postgraduate degrees I didn't quite know how it would help my employability. Well, now that I'm working towards a (hopefully) bright future in content marketing it's time to share what I've learnt at Salford Business School. You know, besides marketing.
Like most courses, assessments are the name of the game. Just to get accepted on to the programme it's likely you'll have to submit a personal statement, and that's before you've even got going. Once on the course expect exams, essays, reports and presentations a plenty. It's not just about essays and presentations though. At postgraduate level you're expected to be able to form opinions and argue your point, even if it differs from your lecturer. Being able to persuade people that your ideas are valid and expand on complex principles in front of industry experts isn't as easy as you think.
Most courses involve some element of team work; whether it be a group assignment or an in-lecture activity, it'll be there. I've already completed one group assessment, have another project in May and participated in countless activities in class. Digital Marketing is usually done as a team, and if you want to be able to work with that team, previous experience is going to come in handy.
It's no coincidence that problem-solving comes after team work; it's a common student complaint that issues occur when there's a group project. But sometimes it's those situations that you gain the most from. Having worked before I started studying marketing, I can't count the times something has cropped up unexpectedly. But when you find a solution to the issue, you gain more understanding, confidence and experience, three things that can only be positives.
Returning to a degree after a break of 2 years working took a lot of getting used to. Suddenly I was back in lectures and rather than spending my weekends relaxing, had to have (and still do) my nose in a book. Now on the course, I'm still adapting to change. My course is MSc Marketing, but we also cover digital marketing meaning new principles to get used to. I'm glad I chose to do a Masters in Marketing over just Digital Marking though. After all, I now have knowledge of both traditional and emerging techniques meaning I'm equipped to deal with this rapidly changing industry, and can create even more content!
No matter what you do there is never enough time. The one thing money can't buy, it's all about using it wisely. Salford Business School operates on a block teaching system, meaning we do assessments every 3 weeks. Juggling the required reading and preparation for the assessment whilst trying to get the most out of the postgraduate experience can be a challenge. Regular assessments and blogging isn't an easy combination but I'd like to think I've now become a more efficient person and can prioritise like a dream.
Speaking of prioritising, organisation and studying MSc Marketing go hand in hand with each other. As I've explained, Salford work on block teaching so lectures take place over 2 and a 1/2 days, essentially meaning an entire module is taught in a working week. It's intensive, and if you haven't put in the ground work you're already behind before it even starts. But thanks to this, I've become an organisation pro. Spreadsheets have become my new best friend and all my blog content and social media is scheduled in advance so for those 2 and a 1/2 days I can focus on what's important.
After 2 and a 1/2 days of intensive course delivery, we're left to our own devises. Of course we can arrange appointments to see tutors but the arranging is down to us. The independence is one of the biggest differences between my masters degree and undergraduate degree. Being able to take responsibility for both and the good and bad allows you to reflect and learn from your experience, hopefully helping you to grow as a person.
If you're only in University for half a week every 3 weeks, keeping going gets tough. On sunny Spring days it's easy to give yourself a well-deserved day off work to relax. Alternatively, spending the entire festive period studying can leave you feeling a bit down. Minimum contact with other students and tutors has meant I've had to focus on my aspirations to keep momentum. I can happily say I've grabbed every opportunity whilst at Salford, and it's ultimately made me more ambitious than ever before.
We live in a digital age so studying digital marketing should be second nature right? Wrong. If you've never used professional tools before, suddenly being introduced to them all at once can be a shock to the system. I've actually always (unknowingly) dabbled with the technical side of marketing, teaching myself basic HTML when I was 11 and learning about SEO, search engine marketing and inbound marketing when I started blogging in 2012, but even I felt a little overwhelmed. However, once you've got the hang of one tool, you find it's easier to use others instinctively. There's some amazing technology and tools out there, so being able to use them effectively is a massive advantage.
Last, but certainly not least, I've developed an understanding of marketing. Obvious? Well not really. I was always going to gain marketing knowledge, but to gain an understanding is something different entirely. It's one thing to learn theory, but applying my knowledge has given my an insight into how it works in practise. Formulating content and social media strategies for my blog has given me first hand experience of digital marketing, teaching me lessons that would be impossible to read.
I think it's safe to say Salford Business School has prepared me for a career in content marketing. I really hope this has helped those of you who are on the fence about doing a postgraduate course. If you want to follow my new journey into becoming a content creator, follow me on LinkedIn at Jessica Riley, Content Creator Manchester
Have you done a postgrad degree? What did you get out of it? Let me know in the comments below!