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This week on the blog, we welcome alumna Hayley Gregory. Hayley graduated in 2016 with a degree in Advertising with Media. She studied at the Warrington Campus before returning home to Blackpool to begin the hunt for a job…

When approached to be a guest blogger for the alumni blog, my first thought was how am I going to encapsulate the craziest year and a half of my life in one blog?! But I can certainly try…

grad

When I left university, I left with many great memories, but the time had come to make a life for myself. I was no longer in the safe little bubble of Warrington Campus (cry!). I arrived back in my wonderful (slightly sarcastic tone there) home town of Blackpool and spent all of my time job hunting.

I faced two big challenges: Firstly, the Blackpool area isn’t exactly known for its creative opportunities, more for a night out! Secondly, I wasn’t the most confident of people. But I knew I had to find something – if I had to do one more waitress shift in my life, making excuses for all the plates I dropped, I’d cry!

I decided I had to listen to the advice of my tutors and mentors from University and started to (slowly…) believe in my own abilities. I really was my own biggest critic! In July 2016, just two months after leaving university, I got a job as a Graphic Designer in a global advertising and digital signage company based just outside of Blackpool. I couldn’t quite believe it – I didn’t even know there were such places in small little towns like this!

After starting my role it soon became apparent that the company had hired Matt and I (we both started at the same time and shared the job role) with the intentions of rebranding. Between us (and a few others who seemed to come and go), we formed the Marketing Team and were responsible for planning, designing and implementing a complete rebrand for the whole company – including name change, complete redesign of visual elements, company materials and new processes!

We had to work closely together to design several new logos, names and visual identities, until a name and logo was chosen by the Directors. We were now to design the whole of Direct Digital… which believe me was a massive job and took us over a year to complete!

A few months went by and in this time I had my graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral on November 2, 2016. I started to struggle with my confidence again – Matt was a stronger graphic designer than me and I couldn’t help but put myself down – seriously this guy is super talented! I soon realized that I was stronger with ideas and concepts than I was at actually designing. I was starting to develop more self-awareness as a professional, but came across a problem… I didn’t suit or love my role of Marketing Graphic Designer as much as I’d first hoped.

Meanwhile, as a team, we were chipping away at the massive rebrand task list. In May, as I was sat at my desk, my boss at the time randomly asked: “Hayley… What did you study at University again?” Wondering where she was going with this, I answered: “Advertising with Media.” She asked what my modules were and as I listed them, I could see her thinking ‘jackpot!’

 

She casually explained that as part of the rebrand, the Directors wanted to focus on social media (the old brand didn’t even have a managed Facebook page which in the B2B sector isn’t advised). They needed someone to create and implement a social media strategy and manage it post rebrand – basically, would I be interested in a promotion to Social Media Manager?!

As soon as I realized the responsibility of being the Social Media Manager of a global company and the trust my manager was putting in me, it wasn’t long before I started to panic! But no, after a quick personal pep talk, I realised I was capable and ready for the next challenge!

I walked into my (new) manager’s office and accepted the job. Leading up to the rebrand, I wrote a social media strategy, created social media pages, planned content and prepared for the launch; with the new and improved online presence of the company. I even got to hire an apprentice who I manage – so now I have my own little Social Media Team (so far theres only the two of us, but Rome wasn’t built in a day!).

On October 14th we launched Direct Digital, we had a staff launch party which featured a presentation revealing and explaining the new brand and processes. It was such a massive achievement for us, after a year of sweat, tears and luckily no blood, we had pulled it off!

I’ve been in this role for about 6 months now and I adore it – and my confidence has soared! My role entails (mainly): management of the pages, responding to comments and messages, dealing with reviews and any negative press, planning and creating engaging industry specific content and building up brand awareness using social media as a tool.

I’ll fininsh my blog with a tiny bit of advice: Belive in yourself! Take the time to develop yourself professionally and you will achieve great things!

Are you a University of Chester graduate? Would you like to write a post for the alumni blog? If the answer is yes, get in touch! You can email us at alumni@chester.ac.uk or drop us a message on any of our social media.

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