Graduate Stories: Liam Quinn, Marketing Executive

Graduate stories

We've been getting to know our marketing graduate community as of late. Liam Quinn from Rotherham. Liam graduated from the University of Sheffield with a master's degree in International Management & Marketing in 2017. At undergrad level, he completed a year-long internship overseas and then went on to work as a social media intern during his master’s studies. He is now a Marketing Executive at Reach Interactive, who are an SMS marketing provider. Find out his top tips for anyone who is looking for their first marketing job in the latest installment in our #GraduateStories series:


How did you get into marketing in the first place?

I first became interested in marketing after taking business studies at secondary school. I started to become aware of the marketing efforts that were behind business advertisements and quickly became hooked. I loved the class so much that I continued studying business through college and then at university. After graduating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and decided to focus on marketing by studying it at a master’s level.


Did your university degree/experience help you when it came to your first marketing job?

Yes, to an extent. My degree taught me the core principles that are used by businesses in general. Attending university also helped me to develop skills that I use daily, such as content writing and planning. Additionally, I was able to complete two internships and study abroad, providing my CV with a much-needed boost. 

However, when I started in my marketing career, I quickly realised that nothing beats the first-hand experience. A lot of the tasks that I complete daily were not taught at university and you sort of get thrown into the deep end. So, don’t be afraid to start a career in marketing if you don’t have a relevant degree - you can pick things up as you go.  


How did you identify which area of marketing you wanted to get into?

Honestly, I’m still figuring that out. My career in marketing is still pretty short and there are always new things to learn. I am lucky that I am exposed to pretty much everything in my current role (search engine optimisation, content marketing, social media marketing and more). Before getting into the industry, I didn’t even know that half of those things even existed! 

What I would say is that if you know you are great at one thing, such as creative and design or analysis, then try to target roles in that niche area. However, if you still aren’t sure where your long-term interests lie, then try and find a role that will allow you to work in multiple areas of the marketing department. 

What advice do you have for graduates looking to get into marketing?

I would change a few things. After finishing my master’s, I was struggling to find an entry-level marketing role, so I took a job in customer service for a bank and spent fourteen months there. If I could go back, then I would have dedicated more of my time to learning about marketing in my spare time. There are plenty of online resources and books that I could have read. Additionally, I had an awful interview experience that put me off applying for jobs for a couple of months. Looking back, I should have pushed through and continued to apply for roles despite the setback. 


What advice do you have for graduates looking to get into marketing?

My advice to graduates that are looking to get into marketing would be to check out the different types of roles that are available. The industry isn’t just about advertising and social media. Instead, you could find yourself in an analytical role, a content writing role or a search engine optimisation role, for example. The more you know about each role, the better suited you’ll be to decide on which one is your strength. 

I’d also recommend that you follow some social media accounts that are entirely dedicated to marketing. By following companies like Marketing WeekSocial Media Today and Moz, you’ll be able to stay up to date with current trends while also learning about new things. Additionally, you should get a better understanding of the daily tasks that are required in the role. 


What advice would you give graduates who are currently searching for their first marketing job?

The challenges that I faced when looking for an entry-level marketing job led me to start a podcast, titled 20 Minute Marketing. I interview industry experts on current trends and also ask them to provide advice to recent graduates. So, I'll share some of the advice that was shared directly from those hiring managers.

The feedback that I received from marketing managers is that your CV needs to grab their attention, as they often receive hundreds. A great way to do this is by starting a blog or writing for a website. My guests regularly tell me that writing skills are one of the top priorities that they look for. Your blog can be related to anything from sports to movie reviews and certainly doesn’t need to be marketing related. You can use a free website like WordPress or Wix as a hosting site. Building a digital portfolio on Instagram or another platform will also help you stand out. Themes that you could use include outdoors, local landmarks, food, travel or anything else that takes your interest. You’ll be able to show employers that you can build a brand, have a creative flair and are willing to put in the effort.

My final piece of advice would be to make sure that you prepare well for your interview. Instead of just looking at a company website, try to gather an understanding of their marketing efforts. You can do this quickly by checking out their social media content, looking at their paid ads and seeing if they are active with email or SMS marketing. This will allow you to provide the company with some suggestions on what you may change or how you think that you’d fit in. On top of that, when you are answering questions, try to focus on the things that you can do as opposed to what you can’t.


If you could give your post-graduate-self any piece of advice, what would it be knowing what you know now about the industry?

The advice that I would give to my post-graduate self would be to enjoy the ride. Marketing is an industry that is adapting daily and even the best out there are still learning. Additionally, I’d tell myself to get involved straight away and have fun. I was conscious of things like the podcast and public speaking, but everything gets much easier after the first time. 


Wow, that is some really insightful advice from Liam on how to get into marketing. So, don't put it off any longer. If this is the career for you searching for marketing jobs to find your perfect match. If you still need some more inspiration, check out all our #GraduateStories.

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