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The Ultimate #TeamBigwave Back to Uni Guide

Your summer exams are all but a painful memory, the holidays are a blur, and just as quickly as you broke up for summer, it’s time to get back to University to start the new Academic year! Whether you’re in your first, second or final year of Uni – the coming year can seem a bit like stepping into the abyss. You may have started University with a clear vision of your ensuing career, or pursued a subject out of passion without any kind of career strategy. Whatever your motivation for choosing your degree, over the course of your studies you are bound to question your coming years. Don’t worry – you’re in good company! We’ve all been there.

Graduates at #TeamBigwave studied a wide variety of subject areas, from Journalism to Equine Business Management, and we wanted to pull together some tips for students going into their next year at University, and beyond! Whether your degree is in Marketing, Design or Web Development, we’ve been there, sent our mortarboards skywards and set off on the path of our chosen professional career. We wanted to pass on a bit of advice that we thought might help you through.

Enjoy, and all the best for the rest of your studies and further career. Tweet us @bigwavemedia and let us know how you’re getting on! We’d love to hear from you.

Beth Markey // Account Manager // BA (Hons) Journalism @ Southampton Solent University

  • Book a career counselling session, even if you know which direction you want to head.
  • There’s no such thing as too much advice. If a certain aspect of marketing appeals to you then find out everything you can about that area. Gear your dissertation in that direction.
  • Start looking at companies that interest you and ensure that your CV is up to scratch.

Simon Beer // Digital Director // BSc (Hons) Electronic Imaging & Media Communication @ Bradford University

  • Find something you are passionate about and throw your entire being into it – even if it is unrelated to your course. Adopt the ‘T-Shaped’ philosophy – where you specialise in a certain field but can collaborate across a broad range of arenas with experts in their own fields.
  • A gap year in industry may seem like it will add a year and prolong your education but the benefits of joining a company in a field that interests you could be incredibly beneficial. You may find it is not actually the career for you or you may love it and end up getting a job offer once you have graduated. Either way, it will strengthen your skillset and give you valuable practical experience putting you at an advantage when you hit the recruitment market.
  • Get a credit card.
  • Never again will you be in a situation where there is such a vast cultural and compact base of opportunities and engagement with people, places and experiences. Make the most of it, be adventurous – join a society, start a club, sign up for a sports team. A keen interest in something outside of your course subject may lead to an unexpected career pathway.
  • Pasta is your friend.
  • Consider signing up for Mystery Shopper programmes. It’s a great way to get some hard cash or try free products/services. You could end up eating and drinking for free.
  • Use your NUS card for discounts!

Wayne Morrish // Graphic Designer // BA (Hons) Graphic Design @ Cardiff Metropolitan University

  • In interviews and work placements be confident, smart and make sure your CV and portfolio is strong, up to date and looks good!

Jennifer Cant // Web Developer // fDA Visual Communication @ Arts University Bournemouth

  • At the very least learn the basics of all industry standard design software. Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, etc.
  • Learn as many digital skills as you can. More and more companies want multi-disciplined workers, and the digital/web industry is growing exponentially.
  • Learn the basics of the web and definitely learn digital design. HTML is easy to pick up with free sites like Codecademy, or paid sites like Team Treehouse.
  • In design/web you absolutely need a portfolio to prove your skills when applying for jobs, even if its invented/self-assigned projects.

Becky Cooper // Account Manager // BA (Hons) Marketing Management @ Kingston University

  • Go to your first week lectures, otherwise you’ll get stuck doing group coursework with the other people who missed them (permanent freshers and lazy bums).
  • Do the suggested reading – it’s really embarrassing being called out to answer a question and having no clue what the lecturer is on about.
  • Ask questions in lectures – there are probably 100 other people too scared to ask the ‘silly’ question – be the hero and ask it!
  • Don’t leave all your assignments until the last minute and make sure you get people to have a read through. There are loads of systems in place at uni to have lecturers/other students to read through assignments and give you advice – make sure you utilise them!
  • Look around for the recommended text books before buying them – you can quite often find them online or through the previous years’ students saving yourself some much-needed money after you’ve spent a month’s allowance in the first week!

Jeff Ball // Graphic Designer // BA (Hons) Media Studies with Art and Design @ Marjon Plymouth

  • Make the most of time on campus/in the studio environment getting advice from tutors/mentors etc.
  • Make sure you nail down a strong subject for your dissertation – get guidance from lecturers.
  • Don’t get hung up on the level of degree you achieve. Just having a degree is a massive help with getting a job. Experience is more important.

Dominic Trewin // Account Manager // BA (Hons) Film and Television Studies @ Brunel University

  • No experience should be seen as bad one, even if you may not have enjoyed it, these experiences will help guide you to something you truly enjoy.
  • Start reading some of the free industry blogs available. The marketing/design industry and their technologies/practices are forever changing. Different perspectives/writing styles can really help challenge your own perception on certain topics. Also the more you read the more you find out if you have a true interest in the industry.
  • If friends/family/friends or friends have a small project/site/product they need help marketing jump at the opportunity. There may seem pressure because of your inexperience but at the end of the day, you are probably doing it for free or a small fee so don’t put too much pressure on yourself – just absorb as much as you can and kick-start your professional development.
  • Start something personal to you that you have a true interest in i.e. blog, website and use it to learn about the different elements of marketing. Having an interest in photography, I decided to do a little reading on web development and with the help of the CMS platforms available, started building a website to display my photography work. As a result, I’ve not only learnt about web development UI/UX, SEO, copywriting but even picked up freelance work from doing so.
  • When you land you first job, don’t seclude yourself to your own department/team. Although there is obviously cross team collaboration, take interest in other teams work/process/practices. There may be parts which are irrelevant to your personal responsibilities but there could be something which could help with you own work or even spark a new idea for better practice. Starting out the industry talking to other teams/colleagues also gives you a chance to see what responsibilities they have and could even open your eyes to a different career route you would like to go down.

Erika Smith // Senior Graphic Designer // BA (Hons) Design Studies @ Southampton Solent University

  • Get RELEVANT work experience – start organising it early (now) to get a good one. Or if you can’t get relevant work experience travel instead.
  • Learn to make a few dinners you can freeze, and then defrost and use during dissertation time.
  • Try something new –  hobby, sport, society etc.
  • Most of all enjoy yourself.

Emma Cottle // Digital Account Manager // BA (Hons) Equine Business Management @ UWE

  • Take comprehensive notes during lectures – then when it comes to writing the assignment, half the work is already done.
  • Get some work experience in different industries during your degree – this will give you real-world experience and help you to decide on your career path after you graduate.
  • If you’re unsure of what area of marketing you want to go into, chat to some of the lecturers who have inspired you. You may be surprised by how varied their careers have been before getting into teaching.
  • Take the time to read around your chosen subject – this will be invaluable to your dissertation, and also help to inform your choices for a career after graduation. Following influential marketers on social media will also help to keep you up to date with the latest marketing thinking.
  • Graduating from University doesn’t have to spell the end to your education – if you have enjoyed it and want it to continue, there are plenty of options! Maybe you’ve decided on your specialism and could pursue a Masters degree? Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications are also a great way to further your development and specialism in marketing. They are also highly sought after by employers.
  • Enjoy it – there’s no experience quite like University!


Bigwave media is a full-service marketing agency based in Exeter & Torquay providing innovative and cost effective marketing support. We’re always on the lookout for talented individuals to join our team – give us a call on 01392 492380 or get in touch via our website

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