Analytical, digital, and problem-solving skills

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Alex and I graduated with a degree in American Studies in 2017. I live in Manchester and since graduating, have worked in digital marketing at The University of Manchester, Manchester Airport Group, and Speakers for Schools. I currently work at Awaze as a Performance Marketing Manager. I also volunteer for a small rare-disease charity called EOS Network, where I assist with various marketing activities.

How are analytical, digital, and problem-solving skills important in your current role?

Analytical and problem-solving skills are really important in my current role. To run great digital marketing campaigns, you have to constantly be measuring what you are doing (this is why I enjoy digital marketing more than more 'traditional' offline marketing – everything can be measured to see how well it performs). This means you have to be good at analysing data and trends: if something is working well, it is important to understand why, and if something isn’t, you need to get to the bottom of why. The answer is not always clear, and as digital marketing involves a lot of online platforms that are constantly changing, you have to pick up digital skills quickly and often have to do some detective work to find out where the problem lies.

How did you develop each of these skills during your degree?

American Studies does not have an obvious link to digital marketing, but it really helped me to develop my analytical skills. The degree required me to draw together things that I had learnt from different courses, for example, American history, cultural studies, literature, politics, etc, and derive an argument for essay responses. Similarly, digital marketing requires the same ability to synergise patterns in behaviours, data, and trends from different places to get a broader understanding of the situation and come up with a strategy. American Studies was also a great degree for developing digital skills: as well as online research, we had to produce videos, podcasts, and other mixed media coursework – skills that I have re-used throughout my career so far.

How did these skills help you get your first graduate job?

Developing these skills helped me to get my first proper job as a Digital and Social Media Graduate Intern at The University of Manchester, through Manchester Graduate Talent. The ability to analyse a varied range of information and form it into a concise and well-rounded argument or response is valuable in any job. During my degree, I also joined various student media groups, such as Fuse TV, where I learnt how to shoot and edit film and still photography, skills which my manager later said helped give me the edge above other applicants. I do not use those skills much anymore, but they were good to have as an intern in this industry as they are not common but always needed.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of first graduate job?

When I graduated there were two things that influenced the jobs I applied for. Firstly, I knew I wanted to stay in Manchester. Secondly, I knew I wanted to go into marketing because of various work experience placements I’d had, and in particular digital marketing for the quick pace and measurability that I mentioned. A few courses in my degree had explored marketing and its effect on American cultural psyche, which further piqued my interest. The opportunity of doing an internship at The University of Manchester was really appealing because I felt that, as well as taking on-board all the skills and business knowledge that an intern does, I could also give back as I was recently a student myself and could offer insight and knowledge of our target audiences that other members of my team may not be able to.