Welcome back to another interview in the #Startingout series. A set of interviews with recent graduates sharing their experiences, giving tips and guidance on starting your career after University.
#Startingout career profile with Connor Peters.
Connor is a Media consultant at Propellernet in Brighton. He graduated last year from Bournemouth University with a degree in Public Relations and has spent time at H&K Strategies and the BWP Group. Since starting his career, Connor has moved over to SEO and paid media following noticing where his strengths lied at University.
I first came across Connor through his infamous Twitter CV when I too was trying to find a placement and loved his thinking behind creating something different.
So, how did he start out in the industry and what has he learnt along the way….
LE: What made you go into PR/How did you find out about the industry?
Connor: I first found out about PR when I was 17 and unsure about what to do at university. I knew I wanted to go into higher education, but I barely even knew what PR was until I spoke to my schools careers advisor. She suggested PR because of my skillset (writing and communications). I was also drawn to the opportunities that a PR degree offers across the wider marketing mix, and the variety of work you can do in the comms industry.
LE: What do you find most interesting about the industry?
Connor: I find it really interesting how many aspects and fundamentals of interpersonal communication work exactly the same across widespread communication. Knowing your audience and adjusting what you say and how you say it has been going on for well over 2000 years. The concepts of pathos, ethos and logos are used throughout digital communications to this day, even if professionals aren’t explicitly thinking about Aristotle. So as technology evolves in the future, and various media rise and fall, from advertising to PR to SEO, the need to communicate well will always be there.
LE: What industry do you work in now and what kind of things do you do?
Connor: I currently work in a digital marketing agency called Propellernet, as part of the media team. It’s a purely digital role, and is much more analytical than some of the more traditional PR that I was doing before – I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics and optimising through other Google products like Adwords, as well as other platforms like Facebook. The digital and analytical side of things is really where I learnt my strengths are throughout my time at university!
LE: How and when did you find your first graduate job?
Connor: I got my first graduate job through my dissertation research. I was looking at how cultural intelligence affects PR professionals, and so was reaching out to a lot of pros via LinkedIn, Twitter, and email. Of the many that ignored me (as is the way with dissertation surveys), one was very interested in the research and began to talk to me about it. She mentioned that there were openings in her team, so I went for an interview and secured the job.
LE: If you could go back to yourself in final year, what tips would you give yourself / what would you tell yourself?
Connor: From a graduate’s point of view, I think I would put a greater focus on learning the basics of some digital tools. Because I’ve used Twitter and Facebook for years, I have a useful understanding of social media, but knowing how to make the most of a platform like sprout social, or having the ability to analyse and report on Facebook data is something that employers are really looking for. A huge amount of industry jobs also ask for extras, like experience with a CMS (WordPress etc), Google Analytics, Photoshop or others.
One other piece of advice is that I found really helpful was if you want to make the most of university, go there. I treated my final year of university like a job, working nine to five, five days a week. Of course, the majority of comms companies offer flexible working hours now (and if they’re not, get on it!) but carrying on that routine from my placement year definitely prevented a lot of potential procrastination. Plus, going to the library every day means that I didn’t have any pre-deadline panics, which were much more common for me in first and second year.
LE: What is the biggest lesson or challenge you’ve learnt or come across since leaving University?
Connor: I think the biggest challenge is figuring out what sort of work you want to do in your career. In university, you’re given quite a clear path of what to do and how to succeed in terms of work. Even things like your dissertation, where you decide the topic and research you’re going to do; there is still a fairly specific framework to follow. When you begin your career, it’s important to be competent and complete your day to day duties. But to really progress, you have to carve your own way, figure out where you want to go and where you can add value. This requires a lot of thinking about what your skills and knowledge are, how this can add value, and possibly most important – what do you actually want to do?
LE: Who inspires you?
There’s a very long list of inspirations, all of which have inspired me to think differently about things. At the moment I would say that’s my MD Nikki. Her and the team at Propellernet have really made me think differently about how it’s possible for a business to run, how money isn’t the only thing you can invest in a business, and in a time where work life is arguably becoming more unhealthy, how to really find value in and love the job that you do. I was gifted a copy of the book Superengaged when I first started working here, and although friends I’ve loaned the book to have commented on the audacity of some of the ideas discussed, I find myself embracing this new way of thinking.
“As technology evolves in the future, and various media rise and fall, from advertising to PR to SEO, the need to communicate well will always be there”
“But to really progress, you have to carve your own way, figure out where you want to go and where you can add value. This requires a lot of thinking about what your skills and knowledge are, how this can add value, and possibly most important – what do you actually want to do?”
Connor Peters, Media Consultant, Propellernet
Connor’s point about working out where you can add value has really resonated with me. Our careers are shaped around our skills and knowledge and at the end of the day, we know ourselves best, the best careers are started this way.
Thank you Connor for taking part and sharing your career experience this week!
Stay tuned for next week’s interview!