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Career Options in Advertising, Marketing & PR: School Leaver

What is the industry about?

If you have a passion for products and how things are sold, whether they be food, films or even football stickers, then advertising, marketing and PR is the career path for you. People who work in advertising create ideas and ways to sell a company or product. Marketers then target the audience using different methods that range from posters on the sides of buses to sponsored Facebook and Twitter posts. Those who work in PR maintain the image and reputation for the company or brand.

If you want to work in advertising, marketing and PR, you should be creative and believe you can create snappy slogans or luscious leaflets in order to get a product out there to the masses. You’ll send out press releases about a new book or mobile app and sometimes you’ll even organise events to show off a product (you know the people who give out free cans of Red Bull? Yeah, you could potentially organise that event.)

Products need to be sold to as many people as possible so advertising, marketing and PR jobs can be found in companies of all shapes and sizes. Larger companies such as Coca-Cola and Sky are likely to have their own advertising, marketing and PR department. Smaller companies will have a smaller team and you could also work for a PR agency. Agencies handle PR for those who may not have their own expert member of staff and pay agencies to use their massive contact list to get the message out there.

What opportunities are there available to me?

- School leaver trainee programme

- Apprenticeship

- Work experience and volunteering.

School leaver trainee programmes and Apprenticeships are available in the advertising, marketing and PR industry and therefore a university degree is not essential. However, you will need to show employers that you have communication, teamwork and presentation skills.

School leaver trainee programmes and Apprenticeships will involve you being trained whilst getting paid (result!) and an increasing number of companies, big and small, are offering these kind of schemes. And what about after that? You will gain a Level 3 qualification opening up countless opportunities in the marketing world; you could run the social media side of a business or be a general marketing assistant. 

With school leaver trainee programmes and Apprenticeships being more competitive than end of year dodge ball, it may be worthwhile to get some work experience before applying in order to increase your skillset.

Setting the school leaver record straight

We all know that one person who spouts for days on end about how an Apprenticeship or school leaver programme is vastly inferior to trotting off to university. At the same time, Apprenticeships and school leaver programmes are less well known about, so your parents may not be aware of all the options available.

In the advertising, marketing and PR world, Apprenticeships are becoming more wide spread and valued. You will train on the job whilst making some money and end up with (at least) a level 3 national certificate with the opportunity to progress further. However, those who finish university will have the equivalent of a level 6 qualification. Whilst the work experience will work in your favour, going to university could allow you to progress more quickly in your career.

Formal education: should I stay or should I go?

A degree isn’t essential but because entry-level jobs in the advertising, marketing and PR industry are so competitive, further and higher education is definitely worth considering.

Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships in this sector will be available as soon as you tear open your GCSE results envelope and find out that you have at least a C in English and maths. If you’re keen on learning how to become an event management assistant, for example, you will also need to possess a lot of skills, such as the ability to give a presentation, being able to think on your feet and perhaps even some design and HTML knowledge. 

If you stay in education until you’re 18, getting some A-Levels, Scottish Highers or the equivalent under your belt, you could also apply for Higher Apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and Sponsored Degrees. Undertaking one of these schemes could see you training to become a marketing manager or PR officer.

You could also get a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, such as an Introductory Certificate in Marketing. This isn’t essential to get into the advertising, marketing and PR industry, but can help show your commitment to following a career in this field.