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Sophie Bustin

Career Path: Account Strategist, Partnerize
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

When I first graduated from my Undergraduate degree in History and English Literature I knew I wanted to work in marketing, however I quickly discovered that marketing is a huge industry with many different branches you can choose specialise in. I first started an internship at a local marketing agency working 1-2 days a week as a way to build up my experience. The agency worked across social media, PR, web design, communication, copywriting and networking so it was a great opportunity to experience different marketing avenues and gain a better understanding of what I wanted to specialise in. The agency took me on full time as Marketing & Communications Assistant with my main focus being social media for their various clients. After 3 months working in agency I then went to work in-house for Ringtons, the role focused on copywriting and creative work such as directing photoshoots, writing up product descriptions and generally acting as a support for the overall marketing team. I learned a lot from this role and it truly opened my eyes to the power of marketing, like what it means to develop long-lasting customer relationships and the challenges to building brand awareness.

Being involved with the marketing strategy of the brand helped me identify gaps in my own knowledge, I lacked the ‘theory’ and context of marketing strategies and therefore felt very limited. It was at this point I understood that going back to university and completing a further qualification in marketing would give me theoretical and contextual knowledge to compliment my practical experience. Fast forward 12 months, I completed a Master’s in Digital Marketing at Northumbria which completely evolved me as a marketer. One of the most useful things I learnt,  was not only the importance of data, but the power of data when you know how to use it properly. I discovered a passion about data and knew that my next career step was to work in a role that allowed me to harness and utilise data in ways that challenged the status quo and pushed boundaries. That takes me to the role I work in now, which is an Account Strategist at Partnerize. A role I wouldn’t have even considered if it wasn’t for completing my MSc in Digital Marketing.

What are you doing now?

I currently work as an Account Strategist at Partnerize, I work with my clients in developing their affiliate marketing strategies. Affiliate marketing is an area of marketing that is completely data-driven, and as Partnerize is a SaaS company we own not only the technology used to track affiliate, but have complete visibility of the data behind it all. I also get the chance to work with world-renowned brands such as Charlotte Tilbury and which is incredibly exciting! Every day I use the knowledge gained on my Master’s and it has completely enhanced my ability to perform the job well.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

As I studied my undergraduate course at Northumbria I already had experience of the campus and teaching, but my Masters was in a completely different subject area which I why I felt it was important to visit other universities. After looking at student reviews, visiting open days and reading the course contents it became increasingly clear that Northumbria was the best option by far. The modules were well thought out, relevant and exciting, the teaching staff were friendly, approachable and knowledgeable and the teaching facilities were impressive. Not only that, but Newcastle is an amazing city that I absolutely love, so the chance to be a student again was too good to miss!

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The particular course I undertook had a mixture of workshops, seminars and lectures. There were assignments at the end of each module but also weekly activities which helped with retaining and developing knowledge. It was really interesting completing a team project for one module as it was a great way to collaborate with my peers. I really enjoyed this aspect of the course as I was able to get to know my team on a more personal level. In terms of the feedback from my tutors, it was all incredibly helpful. Every time I received marks back I was able to implement the suggestions in the next piece of work, improving every time.

How connected was your course with industry?

One of my favourite parts of this course was the day dedicated to meeting industry professionals who worked in a variety of marketing roles. Each person who visited the university that day shared their career paths, experiences and advice which was incredible. It was also a brilliant opportunity to network and ask for advice on CVs/job applications, one meeting lead to being offered a work experience opportunity at Kellogg’s!

What was the best thing about your course?

I couldn’t possibly choose one thing! A mixture of inspiring and experienced tutors who were genuinely invested in their students and the material they taught had a huge impact on me. The tutors were approachable and always available to offer advice whenever it was needed.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

Studying at Northumbria gave my career the edge as it tailored modules to suit the evolving marketing industry. Everything we were taught was relevant, in-line with industry trends and forward-thinking. A lot of what employers are looking for now is innovation and future-proofing, Northumbria very much aligned with that and helped me attain a job in a company that embraces the future.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Something that I notice daily in my career is how much the knowledge gained on the Digital Marketing course bolsters my conversations, recommendations and strategies. Concepts such as the customer experience, journey and life cycle are always considered for all of my clients, and ultimately it shows that I’m always putting their customers first. Even though my job doesn’t specifically look at those marketing elements, having the practical and theoretical knowledge of them makes a huge impact on my overall ability to do the job well. They act as a strong foundation which I can build a well thought out strategy on. Additionally, even the fundamental basics of the course such as marketing diction highlight to both clients and colleagues that I have the knowledge and the skillset of the industry and can keep up with the more senior and experienced professionals.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The people at Northumbria make all the difference, from students to faculty, everyone is welcoming, helpful and supportive. There is generally a positive atmosphere about the place that made me really motivated to learn and succeed. Whilst studying my Master’s I joined the Powerlifting team at Sports Central which meant that I met a whole new group of people with a shared interest in lifting. I loved being a part of this team and I have made some friends for life because of it.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Don’t hesitate. Leaving full-time employment to study my Master’s was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Then once you’re there, embrace every challenge and push yourself to get as much out of the experience as possible. I would love to do it all over again!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Life-changing, welcoming and inspiring.

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