To gain competitive advantage over your peers you will need to have a professional qualification. It is more important than ever to be tertiary educated and women are leading the way in the education stakes with over 60% of university students now female.
I chose to study a double degree which gave me two degrees in 4 years of study. As English and Humanity based subjects were my best performing in high school, I chose to study Business & Economics teamed with a Communications degree. To work in Marketing it is preferable that you hold either a PR, Marketing, Business or Communications degree. If you study another area, don’t worry as experience on the job is also equally important (you will just need to work harder to get that experience).
If you have studied another area you can also study Post graduate courses held by your national Institute of Marketing.
While you may think that university life is busy enough, you will need to demonstrate that you have hands on experience in retail marketing. While knowing the theory behind marketing is essential, there is a big difference between theory and practice. The best way to gain work experience is to ask any contacts you may have if you can work for them for 2 – 4 weeks (obviously without pay). Any less than this and you probably won’t learn much and will be a burden on the employer.
Another good way to find work experience is to ask your university lecturers. They will generally have companies contact them when looking for students to help out. If you don’t have the above options I recommend contacting a few companies who you are really interested in via phone first and ask if you can send over your CV. Be careful not to be pushy or demanding as this will instantly put marketing managers off.
Try to build up at least 2 – 4 different work experience placements over the duration of your course. It will give you a way of demonstrating your skills in an interview and make you to stand out from the crowd when going for graduate positions!
Internships generally last 6 – 12 months and are official programs run by companies. Some companies will pay you a small salary while others will simply cover your expenses. Most British retailers run official programs every 6 months. Information on how to apply can be found on their websites.
Simply make a list of all the retailers/fashion companies you would like to work for, visit their websites and find the employment section. You will find that you will have to go through an interview process that is similar to an actual job interview so it will be great experience for the future.
I have found that people who do an internship generally will end up on a higher wage and in a higher position faster than those who do not.
Get involved with any marketing groups that are run by students at your university. These are not only great for networking, generally they will run information night where people in the industry will come and speak to the group about their experience. If someone speaks on the night and you are interested to either a) learn more about their role or b) do work experience at their company then ensure you introduce yourself and ask for a business card.
If you can get on to the board of a student marketing committee this will look great on your CV as it will show prospective employers that you have participated in extra curricular activities and have a keen interest in marketing.