Voluntary Action Orkney
Struggling to find an entry-level job in marketing, Honours graduate Natalie found her placement experience provided a real boost to her confidence. As she describes.
What’s your background?
I’m from Orkney. I first developed an interest in business subjects during secondary school. After school, I attended Orkney College, initially to study an HND in Business Administration. After developing a further interest in the subject, particularly in the area of marketing, and through support and encouragement from my tutors, I continued my studies and graduated with an Honours Degree in Business and Management.
Why did you apply for a graduate placement?
After enjoying the marketing modules at College, I was hoping to start a career in this field. However, all the marketing jobs that I had seen since I graduated required several years experience in a marketing role – which I didn’t have.
I had just about given up hope of an entry-level job in marketing when I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for a graduate placement with a local organisation, Voluntary Action Orkney (VAO).
During my studies, I had volunteered with the organisation and had found it really enjoyable. The placement allowed me to combine two of my interests. I was delighted when I heard I had been accepted.
What project were you involved in?
The aim was to improve organisational sustainability. The first few months were spent reviewing the current services to ensure that costs were being covered and that they were being promoted effectively.
This led on to service development, with several new services identified where I was responsible for market research, as well as developing and implementing marketing plans.
What did you get out of your placement?
I have found the placement really beneficial for me, both personally and professionally.
Although marketing was an area that interested me, I didn’t have any experience. The placement meant I gained experience in marketing, and confirmed that it is a career I want to pursue.
Personally, I feel my confidence has increased greatly since the start of my placement, and I now have a lot more faith in my abilities.
What did you take away from the training course?
I was already familiar with a lot of the content. However, I found that I got a greater understanding of it now that I had a specific organisation to apply it to. It was also valuable getting to meet the other graduates on the training course and share our placement experiences.
Any advice for other graduates?
My advice is to just give it a go.
I had hesitated briefly before applying for my placement. I wasn’t sure that I had the right skills they were looking for and lacked faith in my abilities.
Rather than talking myself out of it, I decided to just give it a go. It was one of the best decisions that I have made. I feel like I have developed a lot since the start of the placement and have gained valuable skills and experiences that I can take away with me.
What are your future career plans?
Towards the end of my placement, I helped form a new company, The Venue (Orkney). It will be a creative learning centre which allows people of all ages and abilities to explore and express their creativity through a range of visual, creative and expressive arts. My role will be marketing-related.
Completing my placement with VAO has given me the confidence to pursue a career in marketing and I’m looking forward to the new experiences and challenges that the business will bring.