A History Grad to Marketing Professional: Jessie's Career Journey.
My career journey so far - Jessie.
When I was about five years old I told my parents I wanted to be a hairdresser. The following week I had decided teaching was my true calling. Being indecisive - in every aspect of my life - has been part of my personality for as long as I can remember.
I wish someone could have told me how normal it is to not know what you to do with your life at 16. (Even now, a decade on, I’m still a little bit clueless on some things). When UCAS applications, A-Levels and the possibility of university rolled around, my friends all happily announced their chosen careers: teaching, nursing, event management. Me? I was still that girl deciding to be a lawyer one minute, and then a teacher the next.
Instead of trapping myself into a career path I wasn’t sure I would want to take, I set my heart on a passion instead. I’ve always loved learning about the moments that have changed the course of history; the defining moments in human and civil rights, the acts of atrocity against humankind, the political campaigns that change everything, and the eras we still celebrate now.
Following my passion, I picked a history degree that had no set career path but a skill set that could be transferred to so many: government work, business, law and so on.
So, how exactly did I come to choose marketing as my career?
The lightbulb moment came when I wrote my dissertation on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. I loved learning about the way his staff helped to portray a certain image of him in the media, and the messages used to market his policies and his personality. As someone who has always loved the creativity that comes with words, I had underestimated the power of the message until then.
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From there, I went on to do freelance marketing work for a number of different startups including a British accessories brand and a photo-sharing app. Not many people begin their careers doing freelance work, but working for startups allowed me to develop my skill set.
I did everything from social media management and business development to content creation and influencer outreach. What I didn’t know I had to teach myself. It was stressful at times, but in hindsight, I’m really glad it happened that way.
Since then, I’ve worked both agency and client-side on both local campaigns and those that have reached global audiences. I’ve worked in 10+ industries as a result.
I pride myself on building a varied career in the last five years, as I really think it’s helped me to become a better professional. I don’t want to get complacent though, as there’s still a ton of skills I need to learn - namely graphic design - and I still see myself at the beginning of my career.
The creative industries can be a lonely game, especially if you’re a one-man band or hustling hard as a freelancer. Sometimes, people view side hustles as a means of escape from a 9-5, but I’ve always seen a side hustle as the perfect vehicle for personal and professional growth. I’m under no illusion that side hustles are the Valencia-filtered dream that Instagram makes them out to be, but I enjoy being able to do something alongside my full-time job.
Working in the digital space can be daunting and scary at times, but its changing landscape fuels my fire. It keeps me on my toes and I love the learning aspect of it, even if it can be exhausting at times. I also love the idea that the job I might do in 10 years time doesn’t even exist at the moment.
Do I see my degree as a waste? Absolutely not. Some careers - and people - work best when the foundations are flexible. In a lot of industries, it’s not the title of your degree that matters, but the skills you’ve developed along the way. Plus, I like to think it has helped to make me into a more rounded individual.