For school-leavers, weighing up the pros and cons of different routes to employment can be a tricky task. We hear from two young people who took different but equally valid routes to a marketing career.
Marketing executive Kayleigh McFarlane and marketing and events assistant Shona Mcgoogan both work for the national independent careers advice provider In2Ambition, based in Henley-in-Arden. But while they may share the same desk, a love of cake and a penchant for social media, their journeys into the world of marketing couldn’t be more different.
Kayleigh, from Stratford, joined In2Ambition as an apprentice, aged 19. She said, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school but I knew I didn’t want to go to university, mainly because I didn’t want all the expense and debt for something I wasn’t convinced about. I also wasn’t interested in the party lifestyle which often seems to go hand in hand.
“A lot of my friends went to university and there was definitely a certain pressure to take that route but I’m more than happy with my choice. I was really well looked after when I joined In2Ambition. Two years, and three promotions, later I’m still happy with the decision I made.”
On the other side of the debate is Shona, originally from Evesham. She went to Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she studied events management, and was actually interviewed by Kayleigh before being offered the job just hours later.
She said, “Everything at school was very much university-orientated. We would have dedicated periods for university applications and writing personal statements. It was great for those who wanted to go to university like me, but I think for others there wasn’t much else on offer.
“A lot is made of the debt you build up as a student but that wasn’t ever a factor in my decision. It is a lot but everyone who goes is in the same boat. The experience I had and the independence it gave me was brilliant.”
With many employers expressing concerns that university graduates are not workplace-ready, Shona believes it is vital students get valuable experience while completing their degrees.
“University is such a good experience, I would really recommend it” she said. “But they also pushed the fact we should go out and get experience of working and volunteering.
“I think that helped me get the job at In2Ambition – as well as my degree, I could show them I had put myself out there and worked on various events during my course. I think that’s really important if you do go down the university route.”
Meanwhile, Kayleigh’s job came along after she met In2Ambition’s CEO Kufa Matiya during a careers talk at her school. She believes that receiving independent advice was vital to her decision-making, when a lot of emphasis at school was placed on the academic route.
She said: “It was great to get their impartial advice about what opportunities I had beyond university. My advice to those leaving school at the end of this new academic year would be to get out there and speak to employers to find out what they are actually looking for. Don’t just assume you need a degree to pursue certain careers. I think experience counts for just as much, if not more than, qualifications for some industries.”