Amy Magee – Creative Enterprise

This year, Amy Magee, a final year BSc Psychology student at The University of Exeter has been recognised for her impressive professional endeavours including the launch of her own company, Okulo Marketing and Design Ltd and her work in a range of sectors including television, finance and creative marketing. We spoke to Amy to hear about what she’s been doing and some of her professional highlights such as her design feature in the Art of Luxury magazine, as well as her plans for the future and any top tips for current students. 

Amy Magee, current BSc Psychology student at The University of Exeter and founder of Okulo Marketing and Design Ltd

Where did it all start?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind these past four years – my initial desire to follow the clinical psychology route transformed into my fascination for consumer behaviour – quite simply I wanted to know why we do the things we do and how to use this in business. Since my first year I began exploring as many different industries as possible. I had my usual part-time supermarket job to keep me ticking over, but had also started to use my love for English to ghost-write blogs on the behalf of companies across the UK. I wrote for anyone from a famous hypnotist to plastic injection moulding companies (it was hard to make this sound interesting) – sometimes over 50 blogs a month which kept me busy alongside my studies!

Top tip: I suppose my top tip for anyone would be that you’ll be surprised how many things you can turn into a mini business. Say you have a knack for writing or you’re a great photographer, start by just asking people around you whether they need anyone to save them time by writing that blog or photographing an upcoming event. Once you have your first little portfolio, get out there and network (use LinkedIn too)!

What have you been up to alongside your degree?

As I was based in the South West for university, an opportunity arose towards the end of First Year for me to join the BBC as a runner for a Duran Duran concert at the Eden Project. From deciphering call sheets, to working with directors in the gallery truck (the truck full of screens behind the scenes) and learning to drive a saloon car (not fun to park), this job taught me to think quickly and to always be the person who uses your spare minute to ask your team if there’s anything that you can do to help. First impressions matter and this job ultimately led to me landing subsequent contracts with the BBC on a show called ‘Let it Shine’ with Gary Barlow and others throughout the year.

 Top tip: My top tip would be that various opportunities might come your way but it’s your job from then onwards to make a great first impression and utilise the stepping-stone to progress further.  

In second year, I wanted to learn more about the financial world and sought out some work experience in a London investment house called Octopus Investments. A year on, I was looking into financial advisory roles and studying for an R05 financial exam to break into the industry. I later found myself training with an international private wealth firm for two years alongside university, providing personal and business protection for various clients. However, finance ultimately taught me that, as an inherently creative individual, I crave environments that demand artistic and ambitious thinking where no day is the same. In fact, to this day I still have a £20 bet on with my sixth form art teacher who reckoned that I would eventually seek out a creative career despite me sternly sticking with the science route. It turns out he was right, but this is something only my work experience could teach me!

I spent my third year in an industrial marketing placement in Bristol where I had the opportunity to launch creative campaigns, manage their social media and blog platforms, liaise with external partners, and build a cohesive brand image online. I also self-taught a range of graphic design and videography skills – later filming and editing promotional videos for the company and producing their first brochures. These self-taught skills were ultimately the springboard to me later setting up my own business. I registered a company, Okulo Marketing Ltd, built my website and produced my business cards and went out to network. I now work with a range of interesting people including an ex-MI6 and Royal Navy fighter pilot and motivational speaker for whom I produce print media, websites and video showreels. I’ve also had my design for an international private wealth firm featured in the front of The Art of Luxury magazine and distributed to retailers such as Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and House of Fraser, with door drops to Canary Wharf and Mayfair.

 Top tip: Students at The University of Exeter will have a range of opportunities in the future, but what I found is that only by exploring all of these opportunities and industries fully do you really learn what you want – a career that draws not only on your skills, but also on your passions and interests is key in my opinion. Eventually, you’re most likely to seek it out anyway!

 It was these experiences along with my final year of psychology that really developed my knowledge and interest in consumer behaviour. I studied modules that would gear me towards a greater understanding of how businesses and brands can use knowledge about the consumer brain – including what it pays attention to and what it remembers – to build a memorable brand through advertising and increase product sales. I also learned a lot about how organisational psychology concepts can improve efficiency within the workplace. I have since completed my final year thesis on ways to increase sustainable consumer behaviour – in particular, how the notion of social “trends” can promote pro-environmental meat-reduced diets. The University of Exeter allowed me to apply my knowledge to a field I am interested in and gave me a range of opportunities, including the attainment of the Exeter Employability Award and the Exeter Leader Award, to propel my professional experiences. As my time at Exeter draws to a close, I look towards a creative career in London where I can put these past four years of experience to good use!

Final thoughts:

  • I would recommend utilising as many opportunities at the university as possible – make use of the Career Zone and any “refresher” courses (e.g. “refresh your maths skills” for recruitment aptitude tests)
  • If you have a clear picture of what you want to do – spend a few term summers gaining as much experience as possible. If, like many, you haven’t decided on a career yet, explore as many industries as you can. It will help move you closer to your chosen career!
  • For students looking to ‘set up shop’; develop your skills and interests and build a mini portfolio! A slick website can make for a good first impression – if you don’t know how to do this, sites like Squarespace are a good alternative! Head to networking events or professional events within your societies and always have your business cards to hand. Finally, do your market research and find out the appropriate rates for someone of your experience so you know where to place yourself in the market.

Be More Than Your Degree

Be More Than Your Degree

The core of your experience at Exeter is always going to be about academia, but extra-curricular activity is crucial to your personal development and employability.

Be More Than Your Degree showcases the incredible depth of ‘extra stuff’ you can get involved with at University, enriching your experience and helping you get the absolute most out of your time at Exeter.

From Monday 1 to Friday 5 October in the Forum Street, Streatham Campus, find out how we can help maximise your potential through ‘Making a Difference’, gaining ‘Experience’ and ‘Career Support’. You can speak to the professionals and find out what is on offer and ask all the questions you need to, in order to figure out what to do next.

Ready to get inspired?

Katherine Giff, BA English Graduate and Talent and Music intern at MTV

Katherine Giff – BA English Graduate 

“During my time at Exeter I joined XpressionFM, Expose and PearShaped Music Magazine. I chose these societies because I love music and wanted to try music journalism and radio. These societies helped me with my writing, gave me a taste of deadlines and introduced me to so many people. My role in XpressionFM forced me to think creatively as I had to come up with new concepts for our shows and live events, and taught me how to work in a team without my experience in these societies, I would not have got my current job as Talent and Music intern at MTV. Interviewers love to ask questions about when you have worked in a team, overcome difficulties etc. and every example I gave related to my societies. There are some parts of my job now that build on what I learnt in these societies, and I’m always grateful that I threw myself in, and would encourage everyone else to do so, too.”

Alex Somervell (right) started ‘One Third Stories’ whilst studying International Relations and Languages at Exeter

Alex Somervell established his own language learning business ‘One Third Stories’ whilst studying for his degree in International Relations and Languages. 

One Third Stories uses a concept developed by Alex and his business partner Jonny Pryn known as The Clockwork Methodology® which creates bedtime stories in the form of a book and app that starts in English and ends in a different language by gradually introducing words in the target language, delivered as part of a monthly subscription box.

Think: Try: Do was the first bit of support we received in the form of both mentoring and funding” said Alex. The pair also featured on the TV program Dragons den however declined their backing. Peter Jones valued their business at £300,000 and wanted 20% of their margins.

One Third Stories is now worth £2.6 million.

We look forward to meeting you at Be More Than Your Degree, and did we mention there’s free cake? #BMTYD

James Priday – From Undergrad to CEO

James Priday graduated from the University of Exeter in 2011, and is currently the MD at Prydis Wealth and CEO of P1 Investment Management

James Priday, MD at Prydis Wealth, and CEO of P1 Investment Management

After graduating with a First in BA Accounting and Finance, I was invited by the University to stay on for a year to complete a Masters in the same subject and to teach undergraduate accountancy. This meant I could not only get a free Masters degree, but I would also be paid to teach at a University – fantastic at 21 years old! This was an opportunity I therefore enthusiastically took up. However, I had to give up a position in the Corporate Finance team at EY which I had already been offered. This was a decision that I didn’t take lightly but is one I now know was very much the right thing for me to do. At that point I didn’t know if I wanted a career at a big firm, or if I wanted to find my own path; either within smaller companies or my own business. Either way, both degrees would set me up very well for the future.

“I genuinely believe that the base knowledge, skills, and contacts I made at Exeter were the springboard to all of the things I have gone on to do.”

While at University I had also set up my own business developing fitness products. I did this with the help of the University’s Innovation Centre (now Think, Try, Do). The skills I learnt through that process have proved invaluable.

I have to admit; I didn’t have the usual University life. The social side didn’t interest me much, and I was more focused on getting ahead in life. That was far more important to me at that stage. Because of this, I was also completing professional qualifications alongside my degree, and before I had finished at Uni, I was qualified as an investment manager with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI), and as a financial adviser with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

When I came to finishing the Masters, it had become clear to me that I needed to have full control over my future, and therefore a career at a big firm was not for me. I had a conversation with my father and brother that would change the course of my life.

My brother had just come out of PWC as a Chartered Tax Adviser and started working with my father, who had a small accountancy and financial advisory business. We as a family took the decision that my brother would take over the accountancy firm, and I would take over the financial advisory side, allowing my father to step back from the day-to-day business operations, and enable us to inject some fresh energy and ideas into the business.

We quickly rebranded the firm, and set-up a law firm to complement our accountancy and financial advisory activities. This was only possible because the rules changed in 2012, allowing non-lawyers to own a law firm. During this time I also obtained regulatory permission for the financial advisory business to manage investments. These two developments allowed us to serve clients internally across a number of areas, which was, and I believe still is, something unique in the UK. The new group is called Prydis.

Since 2012, we have grown the business six-fold, with 75 staff and four offices. I have also moved our investment management activities into a separate company, P1 Investment Management. P1 serves not only our clients, but also the clients of other financial advisory firms. Additionally, I have developed a consumer-facing online investment platform, Strawberry Invest, and a new financial advisory offering, Financial Solutions.

Life has turned complicated, but exciting and rewarding. I genuinely believe that the base knowledge, skills, and contacts I made at Exeter University were the springboard to all of the things I have gone on to do.

Entrepreneurial Skills in the Workplace and Beyond

When we talk about skills like creative planning, sustainability, project management and corporate social responsibility it’s easy to think that these skills are only needed if you’re starting your own business. However, evidence has proven that this isn’t the case and that more and more market-leading businesses are employing graduates that can demonstrate these skills in the workplace; we call this ‘intrapreneurship’. Tom Crosswell, Enterprise GBP tells us more.

Think Try Do
Think Try Do

The Think, Try, Do programme is there to help you develop these essential skills. Through workshops, guest speakers, panel discussions and more, the programme helps guide you through our three stages: Think – what are these skills and how do we put them into practice within the workplace and outside of it? Try – One to one meetings with advisors to help you develop a start-up idea and competitions that allow you to try out the skills developed in the previous stage. Do – meet other budding entrepreneurs, bespoke in-house business support and access to funding to fuel your start up. Think, Try, Do sessions also count towards your Exeter Award so you really do get the most out of every session. You can find out more about Think, Try, Do and book yourself onto a session by visiting our microsite at http://ex.ac.uk/thinktrydo.

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, thousands of events and competitions will be run across over one hundred countries, the sheer scale of the week really goes to show just how important these skills are to universities and businesses. Think, Try, Do will be running numerous sessions, workshops and a panel discussion throughout the week and there’s something on offer for everyone.

Ever thought about starting your own website? Join us on Tuesday and Wednesday evening when we will be hosting Dan Wiseman of Webwise media, an expert in web design and e-commerce. Want to hear about how entrepreneurial skills have impacted our alumni in their start-up journeys or their work with businesses? Come along to our panel discussion with speakers including General Manager of Deliveroo, Jeremey Rawlinson, Venture Capitalist Richard Blakesley plus more to be confirmed. The talk will be followed by a Q&A and the opportunity to network. You can check out the full list of events by clicking here.

The week culminates with the second Exeter Start-up Weekend and Global Battle. Over 54 hours you have the chance to pitch and work on your start-up idea alongside technologists, entrepreneurs, designers, developers and other experts to work on providing real solutions to the world’s problems. There are a wealth of prizes on offer and expert help at hand to make sure that you can make the most of this exciting opportunity. Interested? Click on the here to find out more and book your place.

Getting into the charity sector as a journalist – Five things I’ve learnt

Trina Wallace
Trina Wallace

Trina Wallace is a freelance charity copywriter and journalist, and an Exeter alum. 

Excitement. Fear. Curiosity. Apprehension. These were just some of the feelings I had when I graduated from Exeter University in 2001 with a degree in English studies. My university years were fantastic. I made new friends, gained amazing memories and learnt so much about life. After graduation, I wondered what lay ahead.

I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but how would I get there – and what would I write about? More than 15 years on, I work as a freelance journalist and copywriter in the charity sector, which I love. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt in my career since I graduated.

Vocational training is fun and makes you stand out. When you’ve finished three or four years of undergraduate study, you might not be up for more education. But if you want to be a journalist, I really recommend doing further training. Journalism is a craft and getting a good grounding in solid journalistic news and feature writing principles is crucial.

I did a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, a great course. The training is more practical than academic, so I felt like I was moving forward. If I need help with work these days, I always look for people who have a journalism qualification.

“There are challenges but being your own boss means you get to choose who you work with and when, and you can fit your job around your life rather than the other way around.”

Work out what you don’t want to write about. I did some shifts at a popular woman’s weekly which involved interviewing people and telling their ‘real life’ stories. For me, that felt uncomfortable. Vulnerable people were paid to tell their heart-wrenching stories and I didn’t think they were supported enough before or after sharing them.

This experience helped me to figure out that I wanted to work in the charity sector. I enjoy interviewing and helping people tell their stories to make change happen. So in the charity sector, I specialise in interviewing the people charities support.

Charities need staff who come from outside the sector. It’s lovely working in the charity sector where people really care about what they do. Often, staff move from one charity to another which is brilliant as it means expertise is shared in the sector. But I do think charities benefit from employing staff with experience of the commercial sector because they have a different perspective. Journalists can bring that eye for finding a story to charities which helps them to reach more people.

Being your own boss is possible. I have worked as a features writer for business and lifestyle magazines and as an editor for a copywriting agency. At the agency, I was also an account manager for charity clients. It taught me about business as well as writing and helped me to return to the idea I’d had when I was younger about being my own boss. I always admired the freedom my dad had being self-employed, ­yet careers advisers never mentioned the option of being your own boss. But it really is an option and journalism is a perfect freelance career. There are challenges but being your own boss means you get to choose who you work with and when, and you can fit your job around your life rather than the other way around.

Journalism is evolving and journalists need to too. Many printed newspapers and magazines have closed which is sad. Now, more people are reading content online. So journalists have to keep their training up to date so they know about everything from search engine optimisation to creating videos. It’s a move to creating content, not just words. If you want to go into journalism, I’d bear this in mind when you’re considering work placements, training and jobs.

Find out more about me on my website www.trinawallace.com

Jade Green, Blogger and Eco Entrepreneur

My name’s Jade, and I’m a blogger and clothing line founder at jadegreenvegan.com I studied at Exeter for four years as part of the KPMG School Leaver Programme, and shortly after graduating in 2015 with a first class degree in Accounting, I left my job at KPMG to launch my own clothing line and pursue a career in blogging full time. 

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Jade Green

I’m so grateful for the experience I gained whilst studying at Exeter and working at KPMG, as having a sound knowledge of business and especially accounting has proved immeasurably helpful as a small business owner. Thanks to my degree, I’ve been able to create my own accounting systems, I know how to budget/forecast and I even have the joy of being able to calculate my own taxes! Whilst my accounting degree has undoubtedly provided a great foundation for my career, I knew I didn’t want to follow a ‘traditional’ accounting route after university, as I have always been a very creative person and wanted to pursue a career where I felt I was making a positive change in the world.

“Pour your energy into something you’re truly passionate about, even if it’s not the safest or easiest option.”

Working on my blog throughout University meant that by the time I graduated, I had created a platform for myself that allowed me to turn my passion into my career. So, with little to no knowledge of what it entailed to set up an online clothing store or to blog full time, I dove head first into building my business. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My blog’s aim is to promote compassionate and sustainable living. I share vegan recipes, healthy living tips, and interviews with influencers in the health/vegan community. My clothing line, an extension of my blog, is comprised of slogan t-shirts, jumpers and hoodies that also aim to promote compassion and kindness. It is really important to me that I support the incredible animal charities around the world, so for each item I sell, I donate £1 to an animal charity. I sell my clothing both online and at various festivals throughout the UK; and since starting my line in December 2015, have been able to donate just under £200 to two animal charities.

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Since embarking on this adventure, I have learnt more than I ever could have imagined about: marketing, designing, web developing, photography, branding, and even accounting (after four years of living and breathing accounting I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more to learn – how wrong was I?!) Whilst leaving the security of my job was incredibly terrifying, not to mention running my own business has been undeniably challenging and stressful at times, I absolutely love what I do and have a clear vision of what I want to achieve which makes it all worth it.

So, my message to anyone reading this would be to pour your energy into something you’re truly passionate about, even if it’s not the safest or easiest option. Life is too short to spend all day every day doing something that you don’t really love.

If you have any questions about what it’s like to start your own business, I would be happy to help so please feel free to contact me at jadegreenvegan@gmail.com

You can also find me at:

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