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As nesma moves into extending its apprenticeship partnerships and its digital skills programme, Veronica Swindale, MD of nesma is joined by Amy Stockdale, to talk about her digital marketing journey so far for Northern Insight Magazine

Tell us a little bit about your career journey so far Amy

My career journey has been anything but linear. My Mum once told me that you’re more likely to take a step sideways or diagonally than forwards for most of your career life, and although I didn’t understand what she meant at the time, I think I now know what she was getting at.

Having graduated from Durham University in 2015 with a 2:1 in Philosophy (Education), a handful of experience in hospitality, and zero job prospects, I wondered if I’d ever find a career at all. Fast forward a year, with more cafe jobs to my CV; I found myself working for Northumberland National Park as part of their ‘Welcome Team’ at ‘The Sill’. During my time there, I volunteered with their marketing department, creating what I can only assume was incredibly average content for their social media – but I loved it!

Fairly swiftly, I grabbed an opportunity to enrol on a graduate Digital Marketing Apprenticeship in Newcastle and embarked on another new adventure! The apprenticeship was brilliant, but as I came to the end of it all, I still wasn’t sure where I ‘fitted in’ within the industry itself. Luckily for me, the answer came to me (quite literally) in the shape of an exceptional man named James Lane (my future employer) and a job title I had never heard of before – a ‘Digital Trainer’. I feel incredibly lucky to say that, since that day (around three years ago now), I’ve found a career that I love and one that I believe has a positive impact on my surrounding community.

To what degree do you think ethics play a part in marketing today? 

I think ethics has and always will play a huge part in marketing. But marketing has a lot to do with telling a good story, and you can’t hold the attention of your audience without a bit of embellishment here and some well-tuned images there. These things we know are rife in the industry, but for me as long as the information is truthful and not distorting the reality of things to the point of spreading a false truth, then it’s more acceptable, more ethically sound. 

That said there’s a fine line to tread. Everyone should consider whether the story and the data, is responsibly sourced, and used appropriately. We only need to cast our eyes over a handful of recent Netflix documentaries to realise that. 

As far as apprenticeships go what would you say to future apprentices and employers of apprentices? 

To future digital marketing apprentices, I say do your work, but look beyond the content you have given to set yourself apart from ‘the crowd’. Put in the hard graft, and go above and beyond, as it is an industry that’s always on the move. Read blogs, take free online courses, but more importantly become passionate about the work you do! 

To employers, I say don’t expect your apprentice to know everything right away. In my experience, so many people will take on an apprentice (in Digital Marketing specifically) with the attitude that they’ll be able to take their business to ‘the next level’, or create and run successful campaigns for them immediately. You can’t expect this on day one. Be supportive, invest in your apprentice meaningfully, and be patient. 

Nesma and Digital Allies are launching our new programme of practical digital workshops in November. What would you say are the key issues surrounding digital marketing skills at the moment? 

For me, the key issues surrounding digital right now revolve around patience. Whether it be someone looking to gain new skills, or a business owner trying to implement a marketing strategy or plan for the first time, I feel we’re all in a reactive place and want results immediately. 

With digital marketing this isn’t going to happen, it takes time (sometimes years), care, and constant work to build up knowledge or brand awareness online in the same way as it would offline or, even, in any other industry.

I find it a constant struggle to convince people that just because so many of us are “on Facebook” doesn’t mean we know anything about digital marketing. That’s not to say we can’t learn or that success won’t come our way, but we do need to educate people on the reality of the industry and the reality of results that can you can expect. 

Want to find more about our new workshops you can take a look in our calendar.

Amy’s Facebook sessions in January are outlined HERE.