Back to School

As the most recent recruit to the planning team, I recently had the rather surreal experience of being invited back to my old university to speak to final-year marketing students about what life in strategy and planning actually entails. I graduated from Edinburgh Napier’s Masters course in Creative Advertising just over a year ago, and since then it's been a steep - but enjoyable - learning curve for me at Realise. It was a real surprise to be asked to go back in the guise of guest lecturer for the day, especially as for a fair portion of the time I still feel as if I am just a beginner myself! I set to work putting together a presentation, though - and in doing so, realised just how much I have picked up over the past 12 months. It's exactly a year since I first walked through the doors of Realise as an intern, and I found that the freshness of my experiences really helped as I tried to work out what exactly it would be useful and interesting to talk about to the final year students. I have very clear memories of just how useful it was on my course to hear from those actually working in the industry, and this motivated me to put a fair amount of thought into what exactly I should say and how to convey what I wished I had been told before starting out - the value of networking and the particular skills that make a great planner, for instance.

I may have done a fair few client presentations now, but nothing quite compares to the nerves involved in addressing your old tutor (with lots of faces looking expectantly at you and waiting to take comprehensive notes on the wisdom they're expecting you to dispense into the bargain)! Half of me still expected to be given a mark for my efforts. But once I got over the initial stage-fright (nerves which both the course and my career so far have thankfully taught me to conceal!) I really enjoyed the session. It was great to have the chance to speak about the genuine pleasures of life in a department that students don't necessarily hear much about, as well as to answer some intelligent questions and talk through how I would tackle the brief they were currently working on.

I left not only feeling pleased with the reassurance that I really have developed and learnt lots in the last year (of course with a nigh-infinite amount of learning still before me) but also very happy to have had the chance to pay forward some of the time that others gave up to speak to me when I was on my course. It was such a positive experience and I would urge everyone to do the same if you get the chance - I know from my own student days that there's no substitute for hearing from real industry professionals and it's hugely appreciated. And there's no better way to reflect on just how much you've learnt yourself since your own days in education!