Meet Jessica Riley - Blogosphere Award Nominee

Students working in Clifford Whitworth Library

Jessica, an MSc Marketing Alumna, talks to us about her recent nomination for Business Influencer of the Year at the Blogosphere Awards as well as what it was like studying with us. 

Here's what she had to say...

Jessica Riley Photo

The Salford Business School Experience 

One of the main reasons for choosing Salford Business School was the industry links the Business School had. Not only did it give me invaluable networking opportunities, but it also allowed me to get ‘real-world’ experience before I even graduated. This experience meant that transitioning from full-time education to full-time work was seamless, and had the confidence to apply everything I had learnt.

MSc Marketing was quite a challenging course, as you would expect from any postgraduate course.

The syllabus covered all types of marketing, (online & offline, B2B & B2C, product & service based) which has meant I am able to adapt my knowledge to most industries or business structures.

I absolutely loved how practical the course was. We learnt theories, but were encouraged to apply them to real-life business scenarios which meant I developed problem solving skills. We had speakers from leading marketing agencies such as Social Chain which helped us learn more about the industry. I also really enjoyed the opportunity of working for real companies as part of our assessments. I even did a 3-month placement at a social shopping platform which helped build my experience before graduating.

We operated on quite a unique timetabling structure which I found really helpful. Instead of covering multiple modules at a single time, we focused on one module for three weeks. We had an intensive week of lectures and workshops, then two weeks ‘off timetable’ to explore the topic in greater detail and complete our assignment. This structure was fast-paced but a great middle ground between an undergraduate degree and more independent study. The lecturers were always there to answer any questions and support us during our time away from campus.

You often hear people saying that they have never used their degree, but, for me, it couldn’t be further from the truth!

Although academic, the course itself is practical which has meant It was much easier for me to use my knowledge in employment and in my business.

At the same time as working towards my degree, I achieved the Gold Level Student Success Award. This award encouraged me to be proactive about my career path  and equipped me with the life-long skills necessary to navigate the jobs market.

I was also elected to be the course representative on the Staff Student Committee. Through this leadership role, I built my confidence and developed communication and problem solving skills which have come in very handy during the pandemic.

Without having these experiences, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to start a freelance business.

Support For Our Students

The tutors throughout my course were friendly, welcoming and supportive. Although we spent time learning independently, you could always contact them easily for any questions.

One example from my final assessment stands out to me. I’m much better with words than numbers but I needed to analyse data that I had collected for my final placement report.

I had to use software that I had never used before and was feeling a bit intimidated. Although I was on placement, my supervisor offered to arrange a time to come in so he could show me how to use it properly.

It’s not just the course tutors that were helpful. The Careers Department really listens to your interests and goals so they can help you find placements or jobs that are not only suitable, but are also something you will enjoy.

What Were Your Career Goals Before Starting University? 

Before starting MSc Marketing, I actually worked for a number of years in the legal industry and was on the career path to become a solicitor. Whilst working in law, I started blogging and working on a rebrand of the law firm I was currently employed at. This made me fall in love with Marketing, and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue full time.

Enrolling on MSc Marketing was a way for me to build my knowledge and experience so I could have a successful career change. Prior to enrolling, I knew I wanted to focus on Digital Marketing, but wasn’t sure exactly what role.

I was really open to experiencing different aspects and saw my course as an opportunity to try roles that I hadn’t even considered.

Salford Business School has given me the skills I need to build a successful career.

As we completed the modules, we were encouraged to reflect on our progress and interests and this really helped me to decide on my career path.

After completing the digital marketing module, I realised I was really passionate about content marketing and this was the specialist area I wanted to focus on. I found that it played to my strengths and I loved the creativity involved.

As I mentioned, I did a 3-month placement at a social shopping platform, at which I was responsible for their content marketing. After seeing an advert for the placement at the Career’s Department, I was offered the role. This opportunity has been invaluable in helping me to gain practical experience and explore my interests further.

Blogosphere Awards Nomination

The Blogosphere Awards are a major Award scheme in the blogging and content creation industry, organsied by Blogosphere Magazine.

Partly voted for by the public, partly decided by a panel, they recognise work in influencer marketing and content marketing, with categories for both content creators and marketing businesses.

The Business Influencer of the Year award recognises individuals who constantly create stand out content and contribute to the business community.

Only 5 people (including myself) have been shortlisted, so getting this far is an incredible achievement.

The impact of being shortlisted will be huge.

Obviously, it’s been a massive confidence boost. I’ve always dreamed of being shortlisted for a Blogosphere Award but didn’t actually expect to achieve it so soon.

Steven Bartlett, the founder of Social Chain, is shortlisted in the Podcast category, but he’s someone I’ve been inspired by since before I enrolled on my course!

Marketing is a competitive industry, so I think to be recognised in such a prestigious award shortlist is an amazing way to stand out and show potential clients or employers that I am passionate about content marketing and can easily demonstrate my skills and experience.

Tell Us A Little About Your Career After Graduating

My goal is to build a freelance content marketing business. I offer a wide-range of content marketing services for bloggers and small businesses who might not have the time or knowledge to implement strategies themselves.

Building a business during the pandemic has been quite challenging at times.  I’ve not been able to network with other people in the business community but being shortlisted has given me the encouragement I need to carry on growing it.

Advice For Future Students

I absolutely loved my time at Salford Business School. The teaching and facilities were incredible and, if I could do it all again, I’d go back.

I returned to education after working for a few years and was changing my career completely. Before I enrolled, I was nervous about what to expect, but I didn’t need to worry. Everyone was friendly and extremely supportive

I think the main piece of advice I’d give is to talk to the tutors. If you have a question about the course, no matter how small, someone will be able to help or point you in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure which Marketing course to choose, so spoke to a few of the tutors on an Opening Evening which helped me make a decision.

I’d also recommend thinking about your long-term plan, even if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do. Having courses that give you the opportunity to gain practical experience made Salford Business School stand out. I was able to build connections that improved my employability before I had even graduated.

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to be proactive and get involved. There are so many different extracurricular activities to get involved with, even as a postgraduate. Attend job fairs, look at volunteering or even join a club! You would be surprised at where opportunities come from!

Another piece of advice is to be open to trying new things and not to be afraid of ‘failure’. Nobody knows everything or has a completely smooth journey to their goals. If you find that you don’t know something, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve your skills. If you try something and then realise it’s not for you, or don’t do something as well as you’d hoped, you haven’t wasted your time. Take a moment to ask yourself why and use it as a way to learn something about your interests and strengths.