Interview with a Working Student
Our Marketing Executive Amy holds a very unique position in that she is still studying full time at university – we caught up with her to find out how she copes with the workload, what her biggest challenge has been, and her favourite car.
Hi Amy – can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your degree, and the company you work for?
My name is Amy Elizabeth Russell, I am 21 years of age and l live in Leeds. I am in the final year of my degree course at Huddersfield University studying Enterprise Development, and I also work for RAM Tracking, a provider of GPS vehicle tracking devices based in Leeds.
How did you find out about the role at RAM Tracking, and what do you do?
My Managing Director at RAM, Chris McClellan, was one of the judges of a Dragons Den style competition I entered in upper sixth form. We reconnected a year or so later through the LinkedIn professional network and it all started from there. He could see I was keen to learn and he was happy to give me an opportunity to prove myself.
My title is Marketing Executive, working part time, at present two days a week, which may increase once I have submitted my final year dissertation. I work closely with the firms Marketing Development Executive, Bella Marsden and both Directors in order to fulfil our marketing goals, specifically in relation to online marketing, social media, blogging and SEO, as well as creative writing, and brand development.
How do you use what you study in your role at RAM Tracking?
Through my degree I have studied all areas of business, from finance to law, marketing to business planning and organisational behaviour, I have been able to apply much of my knowledge to my role. Mostly I have been able to use my ability to see how certain aspects of what we do will benefit the business. Secondly my ability to write well has allowed me to progress and be trusted with writing articles and posts which are published to a wide audience, understanding the importance of tailoring your wording for a specific reader and for SEO purposes is a great skill to have and this stems from my academic writing and research.
How do you manage your time between studying and working?
It is challenging, I have to be disciplined with my time. I have scheduled work days and University days and rarely do the two overlap, it is important for me to keep them separate as it can be overwhelming at times. I am so passionate about my job, but I cannot allow myself to take my work home with me. Unlike my previous roles in the retail sector, it is more difficult to detach yourself from the job out of hours; I have a genuine interest and love for what I do and the people I work with. I have my work emails sent to my BlackBerry, so even when I am not there, I always feel in control. I give my role everything during my working week, but University has to come first. At times this can be frustrating, but I have to keep in mind the end result, once I have my degree, I can turn all my attention to the passion for my job.
Which personality would you most like to have dinner with, past or present?
It may not seem the most original choice for a business professional, but I would most like to have dinner with Lord Alan Sugar. I have met many business personalities over the last few years, including Theo Paphitis and Richard Branson, but I love Alan Sugars direct, no nonsense approach to business and think he would be incredibly interesting and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
What has your favourite student experience been?
Throughout my school days, all my close friends were female and in great contrast to this my University course is entirely male, I am the only female in the year. This was incredibly daunting at first; I couldn’t imagine myself surviving three years with a class full of men with incredibly large egos. Although, it in fact has been a great experience on both a personal and professional level, as I have developed what I believe are lifelong friendships with people I would have never of expected to. Whilst the experience has had its highs and lows, it has been an incredible learning curve which has taught me so much, one of which I feel will stand me in good stead for the working world, where although things are starting to change, is still dominated by strong governing males.
Purely in the interest of my career, one of the highlights has to be presenting in front of 1500 students, teachers and business professional at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. I was asked to speak about my view on the world of business for young people today, as well as share some of my University experiences and recommendations. I have in fact done this annually for the last three years and although each time the nervousness only seems to increase I can’t resist the opportunity to partake in what is a most thrilling and empowering, yet highly rewarding experience.
What was the most helpful thing you’ve learnt so far at RAM Tracking?
I have to be honest and say that before working at RAM, I had little interest in social media, as on a personal level it was not really my thing. Social media marketing and SEO is something the business is incredibly keen on and working here has taught me the importance of using such resources for the benefit of the business. Before I started my knowledge was truly vague and now I feel I have a great understanding of the subject areas and can see valuable opportunities for the business through taking advantage of such resources.
What is the greatest challenge you have found so far while studying and working?
One of the greatest challenges for me has been prioritising my workload, because I am a final year student, the volume of my study has greatly risen in the last six months, yet during that time I have become more established in my marketing role. I am a perfectionist and always put 100% into everything I do, therefore when I am engrossed in my work, it’s difficult to walk away at 5pm and not still be thinking about it. When I arrive home I have to switch from career mode to student mode and this can be frustrating, I am so close to finishing my degree and starting my professional career, I am occasionally torn between the two.
What is your favourite book?
I love to read, although not the standard novel or autobiography. I read to learn, so my books need to inspire and motivate me, I need a reason for reading them, books such as motivational reads, psychology books and ‘how to’ books, if I am taking the time to read something, I want something back for my efforts.
How did your expectations of working for RAM Tracking match what you actually do?
I didn’t quite know what to expect, I initially entered my role on a temporary basis over the summer to gather some further experience but I got so much from it, and met so many great people, that when the time came for me to return to University I didn’t want to leave and I asked if I could stay. I was brought in initially to research and write some new client case studies for the sales team, but as I proved my ability, my role expanded and now requires me to work closely with both Directors and Management, in order fulfil our marketing goals and objectives, with specific reference to online marketing, involving social media, blogging and SEO, as well as creative writing, website and brand development.
If you could change anything from your University experience that would affect your role at RAM Tracking what would it be?
I specialised in marketing and contract law in my second year of study, if I could change anything, it would be to relearn these with my current mind-set. Since working within such a forward thinking business and being able to put my skills into practice I have had a different outlook on my learning, I can apply it directly to my role and see the benefit of the knowledge to my job role and the business I work within. This is something, which given the opportunity to relive my University days again, I would be far more conscious of doing.
Has your experience at RAM Tracking changed how you approach University?
It has given me added drive and determination to succeed both in my future career and at University. It’s shown me the importance of my education and how I can apply my skill within the workplace, yet has allowed me to realise what I want from my future career and where my hard work could take me.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I hope that after I graduate in July of this year, there may the opportunity for me to work on a full time basis at RAM. The company is very forward thinking and enthused by new talent hungry to succeed and progress within their careers. There is great potential here for me to develop and train further as I am keen to continue adding to my skills and qualifications, therefore working for an ever-expanding business would complement my future aspirations.
Working for a vehicle tracking company must involve seeing a lot of cars, which is your personal favourite?
The perfect car for me would be the Range Rover Evoque. It has a futuristic look and for a bigger car is very sporty, although is still feminine and is an appropriate car for a young professional woman. It has the look and the speed but most importantly because it is a 4x4 is highly practical and safe in more dangerous driving conditions.
Do you have any advice to recent graduates or students in their final year looking for an internship or job?
I would advise everyone to firstly build up a network of contacts and this can be done easily through professional networks such as LinkedIn. Build your contacts – whether it is old school teachers, University lecturers, friends, their parents, work colleagues, neighbours or people you work out with. You never know what opportunities might come your way or who those people may know. I have contacts in accounting, marketing, education, the oil trade, retail, web design and many more. And secondly, although it sounds cliché believe in yourself and push yourself forward, you should never expect opportunities to come to you, you have to go out and get them for yourself. I believe you make your own luck and that if you take your eye of the ball, there will always be someone waiting for the opportunity to prove they are better than you. Grasp every opportunity, have confidence in your abilities and always aim to be the best.