Chris W.

Research Marketing and Communications Executive
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Chris W.
Theatre, Film and Television
Film and TV Production
United Kingdom

My employment

Research Marketing and Communications Executive
Cancer Research UK
United Kingdom
Charity and voluntary sector
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Research Marketing and Communications Executive in the United Kingdom

What I do

My role at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is varied and exciting. I am part of a team that is responsible for promoting the work of CRUK to researchers around the world.
We are building our community of international researchers and shaping the discussion about how we beat cancer sooner.
My work involves promoting events, running the research social media, and promoting our opportunities for funding.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Social media managent - I gained social media experience from being involved in student societies whilst I was at York. Learning how to monitor
Relationship management -

What I like most

I really enjoy working for a charity. Knowing that what I'm doing is having a real impact in the world. If I am successful in getting the best and brightest minds in cancer to one of our conferences, then they may have a conversation that leads to a collaboration that makes a real difference in the world. I also really love the team I work with and the company culture at CRUK. It's an incredibly supportive environment with amazing people.

What I like least

I know that I struggled in moving to a big organisation. Everywhere else I've worked has been a small organisation with less than 30 people. CRUK has hundreds of staff in it's London office alone. I wouldn't say this is what I like least - but it is something I found very challenging.

How I looked for work

I found out about the job through (an excellent site for finding third sector work) when coming to the end of my contract with a previous employer. I primarily used that website to find jobs to apply for but I also worked with Harris Hill recruitment who I found to be pretty good in helping me get interviews.
It was fairly easy to use the site, as I knew what I was looking for but I found that applying for a job was a full-time job.
The main tip is to really, really, work on your cover letter and CV so there are no errors or typos. Admittedly I sent one cover letter that included the sentence "I have excellent attention to det" and didn't finish the sentence. Needless to say, I didn't get an interview.
My top tip is to read your CV out loud and check it makes sense and to see if there are any issues.

How I found out about the job

Online jobs board

The recruitment process

Initially, all I had to do was supply my LinkedIn, no cover letter! I then got invited to a first interview with two managers, then a follow-up interview with the head of the department and one of the managers I'd met before.
The first interview was a standard competency based interview and the second dived deeper into some of my experiences and tested some of my 'weaker' areas of experience.
I felt the first interview went well and it turns out that I was the only person they called back to see again! The preparation paid off.
My top tip is (if you feel the interview has gone well) when they ask if you have questions, ask "Is there anything I've said or not said that has given you any doubt as to my suitability to the position?". This shows you are confident but also gives you the chance to figure out what they really think of you and if anything is missing from your experience and a chance to repair it.

My career goals when I graduated

It's okay to not have a complete handle on what you want to do when you leave. Spend your time at University working out what you enjoy and what you don't.
I knew I wanted to do something creative, and something that helped people - but that's all I knew.
Following my degree in Film and Television Production, I was elected as YUSU Activities Officer for two consecutive years and that gave me exposure to lots of different types of work and helped me narrow my focus on what I wanted to do. I found that I really enjoyed charity work and that led me to my next role at Childreach International.
At Childreach I worked to recruit students for challenge events and helped them fundraise. During this experience finally it all clicked that I wanted to share stories and create content. This was when I realised I wanted to work in marketing.

My career history

2014-2016 - Student Activities Officer at YUSU.
2016-2017 - Fundraising and Communications Officer for Childreach International.
2017 - Present - Research Brand Marketing and Communications Executive.

What has helped my career to progress

I believe that two things really made a difference to my career progression.

The first is networking. You never know who might be able to help you down the line. Reputation can make a big difference everywhere you go, so always work hard and do your best to make a good impression.

Secondly, look for opportunities where you can volunteer. Volunteering gives you great responsibility and also gives you a real chance to develop skills for the future. Getting involved in many of the opportunities that York has to offer such as societies, volunteering, sports clubs etc.

I know categorically the opportunities I took at University have been what set me apart from others.

Courses taken since graduation

- Hootsuite Social Media Certification
- HubSpot Certifications

How my studies have helped my career

Whilst at York, I studied film and TV production. I didn't go into it

What surprised me about my career so far

It hasn't gone where I expected it to. I think you can have a plan but you have to also be prepared to take opportunities that come your way. Sometimes you just have to jump.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

I wish to progress in my current organisation and develop my managerial skills. In a few years, I would love to set-up my own marketing agency helping and aiding charities, especially small local charities, to improve their marketing and communications strategies.

My advice to students considering work

Take the time to develop your skills outside of your course. More and more employers are looking for people with real world experience. Try to get some work experience where you can.
Take opportunities to run for a communications role on a sports, college, network or society committee. This experience will set you up well and teach you the fundamentals of running a campaign, managing social media, design. Experiment and use the time at University to make mistakes.

My advice about working in my industry

The role of communications professionals is often fast paced and a constant struggle between reactive and proactive.
Many other teams don't understand that its not just "Sending a tweet" and that to be successful you really need a plan. It's often misunderstood - but when you get it right, it's highly valued.
Working in marketing is exciting and as you move from project to project the days are varied and different but if you're not able to be flexible in how you work, you may struggle.
If you're looking to work in the third sector then do some charity work or volunteering now. Not only will you do some amazing things but you'll learn yourself what it's like to work in a charitable environment.

Other advice

Keep a record of what you achieve over your time at University. When answering core competency questions or completing your CV these records will really help you.

Contacting me

If you are interested in getting into the third sector, interested in how to break into Marketing and Communications, worried your degree may no longer apply to your career path, please get in touch!

If there is ever anything I can do to help anyone I will.

Good luck out there!

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