Archive | May, 2015

A day in the life…

This guest post is from Georgia, one of our BSc Marketing students currently on placement at Marks & Spencer.


My name’s Georgia and I’m currently on a 12 month eCommerce placement scheme with Marks and Spencer. I’ve completed four rotations across a variety of digital departments; Digital Marketing, Multichannel Logistics, Business Development and I’m currently in International Online Sales, where I own the trade of Menswear and Lingerie across our Irish, French and European websites, mobile and tablet – so no pressure (!)

I appreciate that most readers will be most interested in my role in marketing, so I’ll throwback to the start of placement, when I was the Assistant Digital Marketing Manager for Home, Kids & Baby.

My two highlights of this rotation were:

  • Being responsible for the entire digital marketing content for our babywear range that launched globally in over 50 countries
  • Co-ordinating a digital marketing promotion that generated over £ X million revenue (I shan’t disclose corporate revenue, although this equates a lifetime’s worth of Sobar triples!)

In this role, my responsibilities included:

  • Devising strategies to drive online traffic to the company website.
  • Creating engaging and inspiring content and editorial features
  • Briefing and analysing weekly emails
  • Developing and managing digital marketing campaigns
  • Utilising a range of techniques including paid search, SEO and PPC
  • Monitoring social media presence for the Business Unit
  • Tracking sales, conversion and bounce rates and improving the website and customer journey
  • Executing online brand and product campaigns to raise brand awareness
  • Evaluating customer research, market conditions and competitor data

There was no ‘typical day’; work is challenging, fast paced and varied, but here’s close enough…

6.45am – The dreaded alarm

Gone are the days where surfacing at 11am was deemed a lie in. I’m ready for 20 past 7 and I’m usually frantically running to the station for the 7:42.

7.42am (hopefully..)

The overground commute takes around 30 minutes. At the start of placement, I was living in Fulham, which is a lovely part of London, but one of the most expensive. I decided to be savvy and moved back to my family home in Hertfordshire; the commute is not too much further and I’ve saved so much money (hellooooooooo pretty new bag!). It’s probably for the best that I moved out of Fulham after frequently bumping into the Made in Chelsea cast and calling Francis Boulle ‘Hugo’.

8.30am – M&S HQ in Paddington

Work doesn’t officially start until 9am but I like to get into the office early; sometimes we’ll go for a team breakfast or I’ll spend half an hour online shopping evaluating competitor websites and researching key fashion trends and colour palettes which will influence which products I choose to feature in editorials.

M&S head office is at Paddington Basin in central London.

M&S head office is at Paddington Basin in central London.

9am – Morning reporting

Digital marketers are exposed to an abundance of measurable metrics and analytics and it’s vital to analyse these to make data driven decisions. Although daily reporting may not be my favourite aspect of digital marketing, the process is most valuable; ROI is central in marketing accountability and disproves the common fallacy that marketing is ‘fluffy’.

10am – Search Engine Optimization & Pay Per Click

Performing keyword research in coordination with business objectives to optimize the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results through algorithms. We have an in-house PPC and SEO team; therefore I have a top level knowledge about organic and paid search, which are complex and ever changing areas of digital marketing.

11.30 – Digital marketing meeting

Presenting cumulative data from the week before to the Head of Digital Marketing, Head of Brand and Senior Marketing Managers. Although pretty daunting *, this is great exposure to the Senior Management Team within the business.

(*It’s not all scary – we’re often the first to see the brand adverts. It’s a hard life viewing the David Gandy underwear ads on a screen the size of the cinema, but someone has to do it. If you don’t know who he is, Google him and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed)

1pm – Lunch (yay)

As expected, the canteen is absolutely dreamy and serves a variety of British and International dishes. Paddington Basin  has lots of yummy restaurants (Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, Italian), bars and pubs on the canal that our office overlooks. The only downside is that we are constantly spoilt for choice.

One of the most common questions I get asked about work is if I get free Percy Pigs. Unfortunately not, but Percy does sometimes swing by the office on occasion if he fancies it.

Percy in our Paddington HQ

2pm – Meeting with our media buying agency at Google HQ

Interacting with our media buying agency has supplied me with the knowledge to be able to negotiate price and placement to secure the best possible value of our digital advertising. Having worked with PR and advertising agencies, I fully understand how these functions are integrated and have experienced diverse and integrated roles within marketing which is vital. The only constant in digital marketing is the rate of change and the industry is renowned for being competitive; the future industry requires a workforce of adaptable, skilled experts.

3.30pm – Coffee with my mentor

My mentor and I meet weekly and she provides support, feedback and information about future career plans. At the start of placement, we outlined KPI’s by setting personal targets based on what I wanted to achieve within my year at M&S.

I’m lucky to work in a corporation that strongly encourages professional development courses and workshops. So far, I’ve participated in workshops such as ‘Google Analytics for Marketing’, ‘Commercial Acumen’ ‘Gold Standard Communication’ and ‘Buzzfeed: Digital Publishing Strategy’ which have allowed me to build on my technical skills and business competencies.

Fortunately, the company also encourage personal development; such as the Wine Fridays. Another floor favourite is boozy rounders where the entire .com team play games at Hyde Park in the sun. There are also performance based parties, fashion shows, ‘Away Days’, pub quizzes and food tasting launches.

4pm – Planning & executing category content

Creating relevant, engaging and inspiring marketing content using key collection pieces and forthcoming trends. Valuable content is used to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and therefore ultimately drives profitable customer action. It’s one of my favourite aspects of marketing as it’s a chance to be creative and create unforgettable, interesting material.

5.30 Networking  Drinks

I agree with Ne-Yo’s stance on ‘work hard, play hard’ and I’m an avid believer of mixing business and pleasure. If you’re not able to relate to your colleagues as human beings and build positive relationships, your career will suffer. However, dignity should be maintained at all times and thou shalt always proceed with caution.

Home time



An insider’s guide to graduate recruitment: 5 things you didn’t know about life after university

It’s almost time to burst that comforting university bubble…but do you know what’s in store for you in the ‘real world’? You’ve heard about that ‘tax’ thing, but what about everything else? Take a look at these five unexpected aspects of becoming a job-hunting graduate, as compiled by Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

  1. There are more jobs than you think

Generally, one student’s perspective of the job market, taken from a few job emails and a couple of careers fairs, does not represent the true amount of jobs available. The Times’ Top 100 recruiters are not the only companies hiring graduates. Some sectors won’t be making a huge fuss over employing graduates by using brand ambassadors or expensive marketing techniques; you will have to be more extensive in your search. To give yourself the best chance at maximising your opportunities, sign up to as many recruitment sites as you can, as well as keeping an eye on specific companies’ career sections. And if you’re not already using LinkedIn for jobs, then do it right now.

  1. Employers are not trying to catch you out

You might feel under huge amounts of pressure during an interview, but really, employers want you to do well so that they can stop the interviewing process. They want to find the right person as soon as possible, but if you’re it, they just need to find it out for themselves. However they can’t do that if your nerves become you. With this valuable piece of advice in mind, dig out some confidence from the pit of your stomach and answer those questions with your head held high.

  1. Having a degree does not equal instant job

In a society saturated with keen graduates, it’s difficult to whittle these candidates down. Instead of just a degree, employers want experience – or an attempt towards it at least. It might be too late to integrate any sector-relevant work into your degree, but think about what else you’ve done during your time in higher education. Been part of any societies? Done any volunteering? Tutored anyone? Helped out any of your lecturers? Don’t underestimate the salience of extra-curricular activities. If you don’t have any former experience, then use this summer to prove your worth beyond your degree grade. Equally, you may find a job that you enjoy, but you didn’t actually need a degree for. But hey, you’d never give up that uni experience, right?

  1. Your first job is not your only job

While some might argue that you shouldn’t ‘settle’ for a less-than-perfect first job, surely you’ll want to build up some experience first? Before you even attempt to find a job/sector that you want to settle into, you should explore your options and learn how the 9-5 works before pre-ordering your retirement slippers. Now don’t get me wrong, do strive to find that perfect graduate job. But remember: you’re in your early twenties; you have at least forty more years’ worth of a career.

  1. Big-name brands aren’t everything

Don’t give in to heavily funded marketing techniques and just apply for roles with big-name brands. Like point 1 iterates, there are lots of jobs out there, they are just harder to find. Plus, if you manage to blag yourself a job with a large company, how do you know what the actual day-to-day will be like? A smaller brand may win your heart more than a larger one ever could. Essentially, don’t be closed-minded during your job-hunt or you may be left feeling disappointed and unwanted (spoiler: you aren’t!).


Our students at Winchester Fashion Week

In April the city centre of Winchester came alive with the Winchester Fashion Week. Students from Winchester School of Art participated in this week-long event by displaying their designs in various shop windows. Let’s meet two students who took part in the event, to find out their thoughts about the week and employability as part of your studies in general…

Sun Lam is an MA Fashion Design student from Hong Kong and  displayed her garment in a store called Toscanaccio. Sun told us about the background to her designs: “My garment is from my collection called MIND CRACK, this collection is a juxtaposition project combines the inspiration of Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution and the Barbie Liberation Organisation. The 6 outfits were designed from the view of politics and social behaviour in order to convey the idea of breaking the standard and inspire people to think outside the standard.”

Sun Lam, MA Fashion Design student

Sun Lam, MA Fashion Design student


Eloise Lancaster, a third year fashion design student displayed her designs in the window of Cadogan, a luxury Women’s and Menswear shop in Winchester: “The outfit chosen was part of my pre-collection work, which was inspired by taxidermy and preservation. The idea was to use traditional tailoring techniques in an innovative way. The suit is now part of their window display for the duration of Winchester Fashion Week.”

Eloise Lancaster, BA Fashion Design student

Eloise Lancaster, BA Fashion Design student



When asked if either had taken part in anything similar before, they replied:

Sun: As this is the first year I study in UK, so I have never had this kind of experience, and I feel so thankful of being selected for participating in the Fashion Week. I think this is a good opportunity to show student’s work. I think taking part in Fashion Week help me to build my CV which can be an advantage for finding my future job.

Eloise: Nothing exactly like this, this is the first time I have had to showcase my work outside of uni. I think it’s great to try and get as much exposure as possible as a student, so this opportunity is very exciting – any exposure of our work and designs is good for our portfolios and CV’s.

Sun Lam's collection sketches

Sun Lam’s collection sketches in the shop window


Eloise's designs

Eloise’s pre-collection work was inspired by taxidermy and preservation


What other work experience or extra-curricular activities have you taken part in along your studies?

Sun: I didn’t take part of any work experience for this year, however, I have joined a society called Enactus, and I am doing a project with a team called Rival & Co. which is a student run social enterprise at University of Southampton.

Eloise: I have carried out 2 fashion-based internships since being at uni. Last year I worked on Savile Row at Richard James, a bespoke and ready-to-wear tailoring brand.


And what is your view on internships, and students developing their skills through real life experiences?

Sun: I think it is important for students to do internships and I really hope that I can have the opportunity to do internship for this year. As internship provides student a great opportunity to know more about their working industry, and this is also beneficial for finding their graduate job. Students should take part in more events like this to show their works to the public as a designer. It is better for students to work for internships as they can learn more practical things that school didn’t teach.

Eloise: I think internships are essential to all students. Working in industry gave me insight into how a fashion brands work, season to season, and made me aware of the different job opportunities there are within a company like Richard James. After we graduate, any contacts you make can help. Plus it really improves your CV. To any future students, I’d say always try to get your work out there, whenever possible. Anything extra can set you apart from other graduates competing for jobs.

Sun Lam

Sun’s garment was from her collection called MIND CRACK



Top 10 Tips for Applications

Today we have a guest post from Joe, one of our placement students who is soon to start his placement year working at Morgan Stanley. Whether you are applying for a placement, internship or graduate job, his tried and tested tips should help you during the application process!

  1. Start looking early:

Many schemes open up to applications at the end of summer and recruit on a rolling basis. Spend a few days of your summer noting opening dates and deadlines for applications.

  1. Prepare key documents before the application cycle:

Save yourself time down the line when university work builds up by having already put together your CV and a general cover letter structure over summer. Also, make both a 1-page and 2-page CV, as various companies may state a preference.

  1. Consider the main factors in deciding which jobs to apply for:download1

i. What role do you want to be in? ii. Do you want to work for a large or small company? (both have advantages and disadvantages) iii. Do you want work in another city? (consider relocation costs) iv. Is it a paid position? (salaries can vary greatly)

  1. Research the company and the role you are applying to:

Generic applications get nowhere. Read up on the business news relevant to the firm and about the firm. Go on the firm’s website and look at the recent developments and core values. Read up on what the role will actually entail. Look at intern reviews on websites such as “Rate My Placement”.

  1. Tailor each application to each specific role and company:

All that research you’ve just done should be embedded in your cover letter so you come across as genuinely interested in the position you are applying for.

  1. Apply early:

Once all this is done, get in those applications! This is for two reasons. First, you are more likely to be successful if you get your application in early. Second, you don’t want to have to be filling in applications when it comes to exam season.

  1. Use the resources available to you:

Southampton Business School has a really strong placement team and website – so use them! Get them to go over your applications, do mock interviews with you, and ask for advice.

  1. Interviews – competency questions:

Plan in advance, but don’t try and create an individual answer for every possible competency question you can think of. You will never remember all of them. Instead, know really well about five things you have done in the last 2-3 years that display your skill set. Then when you get asked, “tell me about a time you when displayed skill X”, select your most relevant example and apply the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method to it when giving your answer.

  1. Assessment centres

Arrive early so you are not stressed, and then just be yourself. If feel like you need to act differently, then maybe the company isn’t the right fit for you anyway and you wouldn’t enjoy yourself there. Also, there’s a good chance they’ll call you out during interview if they’re not too sure about the way in which you are presenting yourself.

  1. If all else fails…it’s a numbers game:

There will be many good candidates out there with similar qualities to you, so it all may come down to fine margins. Play the odds and do lots of (quality) applications and something will eventually fall into place!

Wishing the best of luck to Joe next year! 

Share your own application tips with the hashtag #FindYourPlace

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