Category Archives: Guest Articles

What advice I would give to an AgencyLifer

Guest Blog by Bethany Bradley

If, like me, you decide to brave the prospect of the working world – don’t panic! No, you won’t be returning at the end of your day full of regret and no, you won’t hate every waking second. In fact it’s an exciting, rewarding experience which looks great on your CV. If the date is approaching for you to turn into the office, you may be panicking about your first day – but don’t.

What will help you prepare is getting a feel for the agency’s personality, follow them on social media (yes – including LinkedIn), and really read up on their website about what they do. Your employer will expect to know less about the real you than you know about the role. On your first day don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to your department and manager, show your interpersonal skills. Make sure you don’t slip under the radar; you want a good reference to be sent back (they can’t do this if they only know you as ‘The Intern’).

Use your IT skills and build on them: send regular emails to your manager about your progress. Ask if they use programmes you may not be familiar with such as Drupal or WordPress and ask for help on navigating these programmes, nobody expects you to know everything. Diversify and get the edge on new platforms – Hootsuite and Buffer are good examples to measure any analytics. You can learn a lot more this way and it also shows enthusiasm and flexibility.

“I was nervous at first, but now I’ve met some great colleagues and I enjoy learning new things every week” – Keeley Sutcliffe, intern at Nuttersons

Regularly keep evidence of the work you do, this makes it easier when writing your PDRs and you can also add these to your portfolio. This is your internship, speak up and ask your manager if you can work in certain areas or shadow people on things like SEO or even basic coding. The golden rule to being successful is using a diary or a productivity app like Evernote. This helps structure and plan your internship showing organisational skills to both employer and tutor.

“Not only did I gain a lot of skills and experience, but also a great network of people in the industry and an offer of a summer role” Kicki Holm, intern at The Candidate

Agency life can really help your future through networking and experience. Some agencies even offer summer or part time work too. This is your experience, you can make so much out of it.

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Great Night for MMU Agency Life Employers

I was very lucky enough to be a guest of Prolific North at their first Northern Marketing Awards on Wednesday 3rd July. Aside from the fact that this was a great evening with a chance to meet hundreds of people from the sector, the real treat was the number of Agency Life employers who were short-listed for awards and the number who went on to win those awards.

It was great to see our new friends at Stein IAS walk away with 6 awards, including Best Large Agency, having been short-listed for 13 – a real morale boost for any Agency Life intern lucky enough to be working there in the next academic year.

Nice news too for Mosquito Digital to win the Consumer Durable Prize – hoping that some of our interns this year had a small part to play in that. Exciting too that Photolink picked up the award for retail with their work for Regis UK – a great boost to those interns joining them in September, whilst our friends at Mediacom won the Mobile Marketing category.

All in all there was at least one Agency Life employer in all but a couple of the award categories. This should be a great motivator for Agency Life interns knowing that just because you’re not in London, doesn’t mean you’re not working with world-class companies.

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Opinion: Why is this the week to worry about being an Agency Life Internship provider?

Earlier this week we celebrated the fact that a large number of our students had already secured their Agency Life Internships, and at least one Agency Life Internship employer had recruited all their future interns for the coming academic year. A large number of the other students are in the process of being interviewed and assessed by the remaining employers to determine whether they should work together. Some new employers are about to come on board and provide their internships and a few students have yet to complete their short CVs for employers to view and make decisions.

All in all, I think about 80 students have opted into the Agency Life Internship.We have about 30 local employers currently offering an Agency Life Internship.

I don’t think the maths adds up – I don’t want good students to miss out on an opportunity.

Tony Foggett of Code Computerlove (one of our Internship providers) and Chair of Manchester Digital revealed this week that firms that fit into the broader ‘digital’ sector struggled to find talent (and revealed that 50% turned work down because they could not fulfil due to a lack of staff). Aside from the technical roles that need talent, many firms described how they were unable to find staff who could work within the field of Search (SEO/PPC) and even the areas of client and account management, as well as areas such as digital strategy.

At the same time I receive several calls a week from agency heads, client-side managers and recruiter (literally) desperate to find (in their words) “Graduates with Experience“. Bar the 3 CVs I currently have, most of my #dmcm students have got what they want in the workplace – and not all of them (not many of them?) are up here in the North.

At the same time, students tell me they struggle to find the work up here (whereas the bright lights of London seem to shone very brightly with their job offers). All of the rational thinking says that it’s vital for Northern firms to engage early on in the life of a student (and with the University) if they’re to build up that supply chain of talent.

On Friday I’m talking at the very great SASCon conference here in Manchester about what we all need to do to attract, recruit and retain the young talent which is pouring out of University, hungry and ambitious. Again to an audience that knows how hard it is to remain competitive without a constant supply of new talent.

The rest of this site provides a rationale for joining Agency Life – but the key thing is for you to take control of this situation this week. Forget about last year’s Agency Life pilot – we’ve learned a great deal from that and massively improved the whole experience for employers and students alike. But it’s absolutely vital for you to provide one internship once a week to a deserving student. Please join our programme now and find the next person that will change your future forever.

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Guest Post – Joanna Spencer from Code Computerlove Offers Top Tips to Agency Life Students

A great guest post from Joanna Spencer who is a Marketing Executive at digital agency Code Computerlove, based in Manchester.

Established in 1999, Code’s 80-strong team collaboratively offer cross-platform digital solutions that include Strategy & User Experience, Design & Build, Performance & Optimisation, Mobile Apps, Campaigns & Social and Search & Media, and they’ve worked with clients including Oxfam, the BBC, NUS, Hillarys, Betta Living, Chester Zoo, PDSA, Brother, Refuge, The Woodland Trust and First Group.

Joanna writes:

“A little bit about me

While I was studying, I worked for Carat Media in both their PPC and Social Media teams. These roles provided me with invaluable experience, specifically around reporting and research. Upon graduating last year with a BA in Marketing Management, I was offered the amazing opportunity to join Code as their first-ever Marketing Executive, working with the PR Manager and the New Business Director to raise the profile of the agency in order to attract the right clients as well as future talent.

Nine months on and I am happy to say I love my job. I have the unique opportunity to work in a client-side role within an agency, and this naturally means that I get to get involved with a variety of projects. But, most importantly, I have a huge amount of autonomy, I’m constanting learning and I get to work with some amazingly talented people.

The successful Agency Life applicant will get an opportunity to work with me on various projects across the business.

Why I think this opportunity is important

The Agency Life scheme offers proper work experience, and I can personally vouch for the fact that getting out there before you graduate to find out what working life is actually like is really valuable. Plus it enables you to get a taste of the career you’ll hopefully enter after graduation.

Previously, students were just automatically placed with an agency, but, this year, they’ll need to apply. Personally, I welcomed this change – I think that having to take the initiative yourself ensures you get placed with the right employer, plus it means more on your CV if you’ve had to compete for your role.

My expectations

I’m looking for someone who is enthusiastic, and is looking to learn. In all honesty, I’m not expecting the CVS to be filled with reams and reams of relevant stuff, experience-wise – I’m after someone who clearly demonstrates keenness, interest and attention to detail, and am up for meeting with anyone who seems to fit the bill to find out more.

Unfortunately, I recently read an application that gave me plenty of reasons not to invite the individual in for a chat. So I thought I would share some tips on the best way to approach applying for an Agency Life placement:

1.     Be honest

I know there’s always a temptation to embellish or exaggerate on a CV, but it’s just not necessary.

At this level, we aren’t looking for past experience or extensive working skills, as we know it’s unlikely you will have had a chance to develop them yet. In my opinion, your CV for Agency Life is an opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm, whilst also providing an overview of what you enjoy doing and what you want to do in the future.

So be honest, or you could end up spending seven months doing something you don’t enjoy – plus there’s always a chance that a little white lie could catch you out somewhere further down the line…

2.     Check (and the double-check) your spelling and grammar

It sounds basic but it’s important to demonstrate that you’re at least sensible enough to use spellcheck – especially if the role you are applying for entails writing copy (and most do). Does what you’re saying make sense? Read through your application thoroughly, and, if possible, get someone else to take a look at it for you before you send it to avoid silly mistakes.

3.     Keep it simple

Don’t throw in overcomplicated words just for the sake of it, or make broad, clichéd statements that don’t really mean anything, like ‘I’m the full package and always give 100%’ – they can actually work against you.

4.     Be aware of your online presence

If you mention any Twitter feeds or blogs that you manage in your application, a potential employer’s certainly going to look at them. But it’s not just the stuff you include on your CV that you should be careful of – many potential employers will Google you, too, so you need to make sure that your entire online presence reflects you at your best.

Change the privacy setting on any social media accounts you wouldn’t want them to access and delete posts or blog that has your name attached to it which could be seen as contradicting anything you’ve mentioned on your application – and certainly don’t include links to work you’ve done that’s not up to standard on your CV.

5.     Be enthusiastic

This is quite broad advice, but it applies to both your application and your interviews. Do your research, be interested, ask questions…. First impressions count so be friendly and approachable from the get go.

I hope these tips help, and don’t forget to check out Code Computerlove’s opportunity – we want to hear from you! Read our tips we give out to graduates and the ideas we gave to students on Talent Day.”

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Guest Article – Imran Azam & sharemystorage.com at Agency Life

Imran Azam is the founder of the collaborative consumption platform sharemystorage.com.  After graduating from Leeds in Computer Science, Imran joined PwC as a Technology Consultant.  He then worked in Pre-Sales Consultancy at the Californian B2B software procurement firm Ariba Technologies. Imran has always been keen to deliver a macro service proposition that challenges conventional business models/industry and delivers real social value; sharemystorage.com aims to fulfil this ambition.

I founded sharemystorage.com last year after having had a less than satisfactory experience with a self-storage warehouse provider; over priced, out of town and soulless.  In the end I approached a neighbour and they agreed to help out with their garage space.  I could see it seemed like a common sense solution that would allow storage providers to earn a extra money and storage user to save money whilst promoting the values of community – a heady mix of the selfish motive and the social imperative so to say.

sharemystorage.com is part of the global Collaborative Consumption (collcons) movement.  Every week you’ll find a a variety of ‘sharing initiatives’ being launched on the web.  Many of you will be familiar with the success of room sharing sties such as airbnb.com or perhaps couchsurfing.com. Having recently secured our first round of investment we are pushing hard to establish our brand in the marketplace.  The premise of sharing physical storage space is a simple one but there are a myriad of issues to consider when building an online proposition; how will people trust one another? what about damage to items? who is responsible for what…and many many others.

The greatest challenge of any collcons venture is to gain a critical mass of supply and demand in a defined geo specific region.  In effect we have a sophisticated market place that not only requires above and below the line marketing but also education.  Educating an undefined audience is daunting but the challenge is compelling; Who are they? Whats important to them? Where are they? Why will they act? What questions will they have about SmS? How best to address these? I’m hoping that my team of MMU students and I are going to explore this market together and come up with some unique answers.

We’re looking forward to working with MMU Agency Life in order to help the next generation of graduates gain vital experience in the real world.

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Guest Article: I-COM tell us about their Agency Life

Mike Blackburn Operations Director I-COMI-COM is one of Manchester’s foremost digital agencies, employing experts in search and social marketing, web design and development at its city centre offices. In this article I-COM’s Operations Director, Mike Blackburn, explains why the firm chose to get involved with MMU Agency Life and what visiting students can expect from their experience.

When we first heard about the MMU Agency Life initiative, we knew we had to be involved. It offers agencies a fantastic opportunity to get in at ground level and provide students with practical experience of what it’s like to work in the exciting world of digital marketing. These students are the future of the industry and thus we felt it was our duty to provide as much help, advice and guidance as possible.

As a firm, we also see this as a way of ensuring Manchester’s future as a digital hub. By exhibiting to local students the breadth of talent involved in our city’s digital community, we’re demonstrating the fact that you don’t have to move to London to work in an innovative and exciting agency environment.

What can students expect from their time at I-COM?

When students come to I-COM as part of the Agency Life scheme, we’ll be presenting them with a set of objectives for one of our clients. They’ll then be expected to work together to come up with a way of achieving those objectives, and we’ll be putting the resources of the company at their disposal.

Their solutions could involve any aspect of our work here at I-COM, from social media to pay-per-click marketing, web design and usability to sourcing and writing guest blog posts and articles.

Once they’ve produced a plan, there will be an internal pitching process and the best ideas will be put to the client and, if approved, put into action. If an idea shows promise but isn’t immediately approved, our team will be there to lend a helping hand.

We plan to give our student teams plenty of scope and responsibility to ensure they get a real taste of what it’s like to work in a hectic city centre agency.”

Mike Blackburn is I-COM’s Operations Director, and has over 20 years’ experience of the marketing industry. 

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