From Hospitality to Advertising - Bianca's Career Story.
Bianca's Career Story.
I started feeling the burden of career expectations from a very young age.
My brother is 8 years older than me, which means that by the time I came along, my parents were already knee-deep in parent-teacher conferences with him. As I entered school and he started university, it always felt like I was playing catch-up. By the age of 13, my dad was already “really concerned” that I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. This pressure only grew bigger as I finished my GCSEs and started my 2-year IB (International Baccalaureate) course at a boarding school in England.
I remember feeling horribly insecure about not knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, because it felt like it was expected that I should know for certain by the age of 16. As I reached the 17th birthday, my dad had been pressuring me to go into Hotel Management because he believed that it would be a good fit for the subjects I chose to study in school. The hardest thing about this was that I didn’t have a counter-argument. I didn’t know what I actually wanted to study at university, so I couldn’t provide another option.
By the time my 1st year of the IB was over, I had been pressured into joining a hospitality school in Switzerland. While my friends hadn’t even started to think about applying for UCAS, my future was already set. I was miserable, but I felt stuck, so I didn’t bother looking at Universities in England.
I knew that I didn’t want to study hospitality, so after two very depressing months at that university, I finally dropped out and went home, hanging my head in shame. I was headed home with no degree and no plan B.
Now you might ask: “How did you figure out what you wanted to study?”
Quite honestly, I did it through process of elimination. I sat down in my sunny garden in Portugal one afternoon with a printed 3-page list of every single course that every single UCAS university in England was offering. I didn’t know what I wanted to study, but I certainly knew what I didn’t want. I sat and crossed them out, one by one.
In the end, I was left with Advertising, Marketing and Psychology. I don’t really know how Advertising never crossed my mind (since both my mother and stepfather worked in the industry their entire lives), but it finally felt like I was on the right track.
After a year at the University of Chester, I moved down to London and transferred universities to the University of West London. I did this for a few reasons:
My course in Chester was split between Advertising and TV Production, which I didn’t want to study and took up the majority of my time
I knew I wanted to end up in London for work, and this would be the smarter move in terms of getting an internship
I believe what made my journey through university as valuable as it was, was making sure that all my efforts were leading towards the same goal. There was no passion or project of mine that didn’t end with progress towards my personal finish line: I wanted to graduate with a 1st class honours degree and get a job in my field.
Two months before my graduation, I landed my very first job in Advertising as the Social Media Executive for a food delivery company in London. I was over-the-moon having achieved what I thought was everything I had been working towards. Honestly, that job was incredible. I loved my team, I loved my workplace and I loved that I felt like I had paved my own way there. After being pressured into studying hospitality, I was just happy and proud that I had fought for what I wanted and not settled for someone else’s wishes. After 2 brilliant months of what felt like I was walking on air, I got a call from my manager on the day of my graduation:
“The company is changing direction and they’ve decided to dissolve the entire marketing department. I was only briefed on it this morning, so we have to go in and collect our things as soon as possible.”
After a month of (many) failed job interviews, stressing about paying rent for a Zone 2 London apartment that I could no longer afford and a few existential crises, I landed a job as the Content Marketing Specialist for a short-letting company in London.
My current job is a very busy one, and I probably would’ve felt entirely unqualified for it if I had known the extent of the responsibility that would be placed upon me. Things have been slowly but surely added to my plate every week, creating what I now affectionately refer to as the “hectic content schedule of doom”. Not only am I the sole person in charge of all content creation (copywriting, photography and video production), but I also run all of our e-mail marketing, step in as graphic designer for our out-of-home and digital campaigns, build pages in HTML, manage several aspects of our website and I create, execute and manage our full content strategy.
I’ve ended up working directly beneath the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, which is a lot more responsibility than I ever thought I’d have at an entry-level position.
Despite being advised against it by several people, I always knew that I wanted to work in a start-up environment for a while after university. When the teams are small, there is a lot more opportunity to be given responsibility. I have always enjoyed being thrown in the deep-end when it comes to learning opportunities, as I know it’s easier for me to learn under pressure.
My next move is to keep my options really open in terms of my next job. My freelance work and YouTube channel are still going from strength to strength, and I dream of a day where I might be able to pursue that full-time. Until then, I will continue building on my portfolio and exploring new opportunities within the industry.
All in all, I’m super happy with my career journey thus far. It hasn’t been easy or simple, but the best things in life rarely are. I enjoy the excitement and uncertainty (just not too much of it) that comes with being in the early stages of your career. I look forward to the day where I might read this back and feel like so much more has happened since.