Art on a Different Canvas: Insights from a Creative Turned Marketing Manager
What is it like to pivot career direction mid-career? How can you make the most of internship experiences? What is it like working in marketing?
On the heels of our recent blog post interview and profile, ‘Social responsibility and justice in law,’ we present another career spotlight on a UTS alumna. They’ve had a successful design career and then transitioned into a marketing role in financial services three years ago. They have requested to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, so we will be referring to them as Alex. Read on to find out about their career mobility, their experience with internships, and working in marketing.
Introduction: Career Journey and Education
I’m a designer turned marketer, specialising in digital products, working for a large international financial services company.
Looking after two markets and working with stakeholders across four time zones, I optimise the experience for users of our product according to local and international market strategies, as well as support other marketing channels to achieve their goals.
I completed a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication (Hons). It was originally a four-year degree when I enrolled, but was updated to be a three-year degree with optional Honours year (which I took).
I landed my first designer role in a gap year before I started my Honours year and was there for five years before I made the transition to marketing. I also began freelancing on the side while as a designer, and only recently have had to turn down projects due to my 9-5 commitments.
Internships and takeaways
I completed three internships while I studied to gain professional/real-world experience to complement my studies.
If I was to summarise the main takeaways from my experience in internships, it would be:
- Know why you’re there – what are you trying to gain from the experience? Are you trying out the position on for size? Are you trying to get a feel for a field/industry? Do you want a job after this placement?
- Understand your position – be observant, try to understand the processes in place and the role you play, empathise with your leaders to understand the goals and priorities they are working towards. Consider what you can bring to the table based off of your skills and experience in terms of the company’s/team’s objectives.
- Assess the value of the placement – there is nothing wrong with trying to gain as much experience as possible, be clear with yourself if you’re still gaining value from your placements. Internships should form part of your education. You should not be working for free, especially if your employer is being paid for the work you do.
Transitioning from design to marketing
My transition from design to marketing felt quite abrupt when it happened, but in retrospect, it was the culmination of multiple factors.
Needing a new challenge
I had been a designer at the same company for five years, having landed the position in a gap year (I took a break between my third and fourth years).
You can look at development in terms of breadth vs depth ie. Having basic knowledge in a range of topics vs. being an expert in one particular field. In the five years I was a designer, I gained a lot of depth in particular areas of design, but was looking for breadth which my company could not provide.
When the opportunity for my first marketing role came up, I was very hesitant and reluctantly applied, thinking I’d be turned down immediately having had no marketing experience. Luckily my hiring managers could see the transferrable skills I offered. Often employers will look for different points of view so they can get a fresh perspective on their work.
Working with a lot of incredible leaders has given me insight into what they look for in a candidate. Technical skills are important but equally important are your transferrable skills – how well you work in a team, communicate with your peers and leaders, problem-solve, bring others with you, and articulate any concerns.
Although my design degree taught me a lot of industry-specific knowledge that isn’t relevant outside design, design thinking has been most impactful in my career since graduating. This methodical way of approaching problems is valued outside of design and underpins a lot of my work.
It’s healthy to maintain your own interests outside of work as you never know when it might help you. My current role is a combination of my interests that complements my style of working.
Prior to uni, I was always interested in web, analytics and design, which led me to pursue a design degree. During my time as a designer, I developed an interest in personal finance which helped get me where I am today.
The pros and cons of marketing
The best parts of working in marketing are:
- Working with amazing leaders who have always had my back, especially in terms of my career development
- Great team culture
- Knowing that my work positively impacts a lot of people
However, my least favourite aspects are:
- The rigid, slow and bureaucratic processes due to the size of my company and the regulations we’re bound by
- The work that gets me most excited is often hard to come by – you often have to build to it or push for prioritisation. I’ve learnt to not lose sight of the bigger picture.
Work hours and schedule
I work the standard 9-5/5:30, occasionally taking calls outside of standard office hours to connect with international stakeholders. I’m extremely fortunate in that overtime is not expected (in fact, it’s discouraged). Any overtime we do, we’re encouraged to take back the time.
Advice to current students
Embrace change. It’s against human nature and something I’m still actively trying to do, but it’s always worked out for the best. By embracing change you can be agile and receptive to opportunities.
When you’re going through internships, this advice might be cliche advice, but it stands the test of time:
- be hungry
- be curious
- question things
- be a sponge
- don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance if you’re feeling lost
- communicate often.
I have been both an intern, and a mentor, so I know how daunting it can be. But as a leader, I want to be pushed to be the best leader I can be. It’s daunting for anyone starting a new job, but like any job, it’s a two-way street. You’re there not only to provide your services, but your employer has the responsibility to provide relevant training for you.
Your leaders are also human and are also working towards their own development. Leadership styles differ between people. Acknowledge when it works and when it doesn’t.
It was great hearing from Alex about their career insights.
In today’s fast-paced job market, career mobility has become increasingly important; employees who possess diverse skill sets and are adaptable to different work environments are highly valued by employers. However, career mobility also requires a certain level of risk-taking, resilience, and continuous learning, as individuals need to be prepared to face challenges and adapt to new environments. Ultimately, career mobility can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying career journey, where individuals are able to pursue their passions, learn new things, and make a positive impact in their chosen field.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Melany Chao is the Operations Assistant for UTS Careers. She has broad experience across the rag trade, pharmaceutical and education sectors, and enjoys helping people achieve their goals.