Written by Megan Elworthy, 25, PR and Marketing Assistant 

 

I had a troublesome time with jobs throughout the pandemic, and due to the lockdown was struggling to find roles in retail or bartending which was where most of my experience was. 

My work coach at the Job Centre pointed me in the direction of the Kickstart Scheme – something I hadn’t heard of beforehand. 

The Kickstart Scheme gives 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit an opportunity to experience a job for six months, in sectors that would usually be unobtainable without a certain amount of experience, or a degree. It allows them to obtain valuable experience whilst also earning a decent wage, as the government covers 25 hours a week at minimum wage.

We had several discussions about my interests and fields I’d like to get into, and what would be possible for me with my personal and mental health issues and I applied for several roles. At some point, the coach shared with me a marketing job – a field I’d not considered before. However, after reading a bit more about the sector, I told her I was very interested in finding out more. This eventually led to me applying, interviewing for, and getting the role at Astley Media. 

Before starting my role of PR & Marketing Assistant at Astley Media, I’d had very little marketing experience – I had run some social media accounts for an old job but didn’t have a lot of guidance in what to post, so it was mostly left to my own devices, with only personal social media experience guiding my way. However; the Kickstart Scheme is designed to help people to access sectors without formal qualifications or experience and I’d always had an interest in social media, having grown up with it, so it was great to find a role which incorporated this personal interest.

While a bit daunting at first, after two weeks of getting to know how Astley Media worked and who their clients are, I quickly got stuck into the role. Day to day I took part in marketing and team meetings and was set a range of different tasks. 

Working in marketing is fast-faced, varied and busy. Learning to prioritise tasks and not overload myself was something I had to pick-up quickly, and the team supported me in how to do this. 

Even though I started the role remotely, the Astley Media team were all so welcoming and friendly, and I was always made to feel included; with colleagues asking how I was doing and how I was getting on with my work. Despite being physically apart, the team were always having fun in team Zoom meetings and kept in touch via Slack messaging; and it was great to be a part of such a fun and supportive culture. 

I was given the chance to experience a variety of marketing activities, including; press releases, blog posts, social media posts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram) and research. I was delighted to be asked to be a part of Astley Media’s own marketing team and to have my ideas heard.

To begin with, I found that moving from an academic-style of writing to more concisely for press releases, or more informally for blogs was a challenge, but I was given plenty of guidance and took part in some formal training, arranged by Astley Media, which was delivered by a former newspaper editor. 

One of my proudest achievements is managing the content for a client’s social media campaign, which was really successful and received great feedback from the client. 

After spending six months as a PR & Marketing Assistant, I’ve found that I’ve really enjoyed all aspects of the role, and there’s nothing in particular that I disliked. Everything I’ve had the chance to experience has been extremely valuable and I’ll be able to carry with me as I aspire to continue my marketing career.

As my six months experience has now come to an end, I’m looking to gain more marketing experience through internships or training, perhaps focusing on social media marketing or influencer marketing which are areas I have found particularly interesting. Eventually I would like to move into a full-time position at a marketing agency in Devon, Bristol or Cardiff. 

The Kickstart Scheme has now been extended into March 2022, with applications closing in December, I can’t stress enough about how valuable this experience has been for me and the professional skills and personal confidence I have gained. I would encourage anyone who is unsure about the best career for their skill set, and is receiving Universal Credit, to speak to a careers coach about the Kickstart Scheme. 

I would like to thank the whole team at Astley Media for teaching me so much and providing me with encouragement, support and guidance, as I begin my journey into a really interesting and rewarding career.