A personal piece by Portland’s Marketing Assistant:
I’m standing in front of my university, dressed in gown and cap. My mother is fussing over me, proudly straightening my tie for the pictures she’ll take. I throw my cap in the air. As it touches the sky I think ‘this is where life begins’. The whole world is at my feet.
I’m standing behind a till. I’m scanning items. ‘That’ll be £11.98 please’. Next customer. I’m scanning items. ‘That’ll be £33.86 please’. Next customer. I nibble my way through the queue until we reach a lull in the shopping day. Then I shuffle around the store in my little red apron, rearranging trinkets on shelves. As I unbox the stuffed penguins I think ‘I have a masters degree’. My story is the story of many people who graduated in the last few years, especially just before covid.
I had applied for marketing role after marketing role. But even roles with ‘junior’ in the title were asking for several years of experience. I had fallen into a vicious loop. Can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job. After many months of this, my work coach was suggesting in firmer and firmer tones of voice that I begin to apply for other roles. Eventually I had to oblige.
Soon I found myself in the scene described above. I came to accept that I had failed. That a degree was no longer a passport to middle class-dom. The only way to succeed now was to choose a pragmatic course: engineering, nursing, programming. If you insisted on pursuing another course, you'd better have startling extracurriculars and friends in the right places.
After several months of stacking shelves and ringing tills, I came home to a call from my job coach. She let me know about Kickstart, and how Portland Training was looking to hire a marketing person. Kickstart made it risk-free for Portland Training to try out somebody like me, with very little marketing experience. They could hire me for 6 months, while the government paid my salary, and find out if I was worth offering a permanent position. I signed my permanent contract last month. I’m now working in my dream field, gaining invaluable experience. I’ve published blogs (like this one), I’ve learned to use photo editing-software, filmed interviews, crafted social media and email marketing campaigns, learned SEO, and even helped redesign the company website. All of this is gold dust sprinkled on my CV, it is experience. And it’s all thanks to Kickstart helping me get my foot in the door.