Louisa Buckingham: Expecting the unexpected

Our guest blog is written by Louisa Buckingham, a business management graduate from Liverpool John Moores University, who recently completed a Graduate Marketing Executive Internship with Step at First Capital Cashflow; a provider of bespoke Bacs processing services, sales invoice collection management and card processing solutions in the financial services industry.


 

Louisa BuckinghamAs a part-qualified accountant who has worked for several years since graduating, I’m probably not your typical placement student. Although I had enjoyed the challenge of working for a Big 4 firm, I had no real sense of satisfaction. I can look back now at the choices that faced me when I first graduated – 1. I could become the big marketing and advertising guru I had fantasied about becoming during my business degree or 2. I could become the ‘young professional’ my parents wanted me to be.

Of course option 1 was the preferred choice, but after several months of applying for countless positions and only getting to interview stage, I started to doubt whether I was good enough? Whether this was what I should be doing? So rather reluctantly I applied for a job in audit and accountancy and was offered the job on the spot. So perhaps this was the path for me. I was always good with numbers I thought, the money was great, so I jumped in with both feet.

I certainly don’t regret my choice. I learnt a great deal and became a much more independent and commercial individual as a result, but I got to the point where I lived for a job I resented. I was going against everything I was passionate about… creativity, innovation and spontaneity. So after much deliberation I handed my resignation in and decided to go back to square one. I loved my marketing modules in my degree and it was always where my passions lay, so I started applying for marketing roles.

I came across Step after a couple of weeks of searching, as I came to realise that everyone wanted an experienced marketer and here’s me – a part qualified accountant, with zero marketing work experience, looking to become a marketing executive! So I decided I had to do an internship to get the experience. From the get go, Step were really helpful; Ben my main point of contact, chatted and listened to me for over an hour about my experiences and what I wanted to get out of this. Finally I found someone who understood what I wanted to do. Ben helped me hone my personal statement and interview skills in preparation for my interview at First Capital Cashflow. It was for a 3 month internship as a Marketing Executive – a position I thought fitted the bill as they were willing to nurture new talent and provide opportunities for growth. After a 3 hour interview, I was offered the internship!

My first week was focused on getting to know more about the company and the solutions they sell. First Capital Cashflow has become one of the UK’s leading Bacs Approved Payment Bureaus, and has grown by 200% in the last 2 years. The company has developed bespoke Direct Debit payment solutions and clients range from FTSE 100’s and Banks to SME’s and not-for-profit organisations.

Conrad the Managing Director informed me on my first day that there wasn’t a ‘set in stone’ job description and that I should expect the unexpected – and boy was he right! It’s hard to define a typical day – as every day is different! One day I could be in London meeting potential marketing partners, the next helping host a webinar on ‘Direct Debit Best Practices’. I have been involved and had to manage a number of projects from the early stages of the internship. These include managing the redesign of the website, managing our social media channels and launching First Capital Cashflow’s first email and direct mail marketing campaign, which has been a great success.

I’m also directly involved in creating marketing collateral such as brochures, e-newsletters and fact sheets where I get to write both the copy and create the graphics, which finally allows me to bring out my arty side! I have also recently been involved in writing pieces of PR and news as a part of the wider marketing reach. The last 3 months have whizzed by illustrating the fast paced nature of the business, but also the fact that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

So what can I take away from this experience? Well firstly a job – I was offered a permanent position with the business, which I was absolutely over the moon about.  Secondly, that it’s worth taking risks in life and that you should follow what you really want to do (without sounding too cheesy!). Step helped me achieve this and I can’t thank them enough.

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