Your route into Trade Marketing Management

Kate Blackmore, Exeter alumn and Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

Kate Blackmore graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA Geography, 2015. She’s currently Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

After leaving Exeter I wanted to work for an FMCG company. I applied for a few graduate schemes but was unsuccessful, mostly because I struggled with the speed of the Numerical Reasoning Tests! I got a job in sales in Exeter and worked as an Account Manager for just under a year. With that experience I was able to join PepsiCo as a Sales Development Representative (the same job the graduate scheme starts on).

As an SDR my role was to visit 11 stores per day, speak with the manager and try to educate them about the best range to stock and how to display them, plus help merchandise the fixtures to maximise sales. It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of driving, but I loved working with the customers and it was nice to know that a lot of the leadership team at Pepsi had also come into the company through this role. I was promoted within the year to Trade Marketing Executive, based at PepsiCo Head Office.

“I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but PepsiCo supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales.”

I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but the company supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales. Brand Marketing create new campaigns and new launches, Trade Marketing work on the pricing, promotions, forecasts and targets, point of sale materials, planograms, sales presentations, briefing meetings and anything else needed to execute the launch, then sales sell it into customers.

After two years in role, I decided I wanted to take some time out to travel. I quit my job and started working for Topdeck Travel as a Trip Leader – essentially my role was to lead group tours around Europe. I would collect a group of up to 48 18-30 year olds in London, and travel with them around Europe, organising all the on-the-ground logistics and giving tours into the history and culture of each country. I did this for one ‘summer season’, then spent the winter backpacking in Latin America. Then Covid hit!

“I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel!”

While travelling, I had lined up my next role in my Trade Marketing career, as a Trade Marketing Manager in the beauty industry. I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel! I started working for Wella Company in their Gain/Grow team, developing plans to gain new customers to the business. After one year I was promoted to my current role, managing the execution of Colour campaigns (our biggest brands).

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?            

I got into Trade Marketing mostly at the suggestion of the management team at PepsiCo – when the role came up, they recommended me for it and felt it would suit my skill set. I hadn’t even heard of Trade Marketing when I was at university! I love that my work is closely linked to the execution of campaigns and has real tangible results – even just walking past a salon window and seeing POS I created. I also love how cross-functional Trade Marketing is as you really do work with all parts of the business – you work most closely with Sales and Marketing, but I also have to work with Supply Chain to ensure we have the right forecasts, with Finance to build the promotions and EComm to ensure the digital side of the business matches what we put out in person, with Category Management and Consumer Insights to ensure we get the messaging right and so much more!

“I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes.”

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?      

I think the biggest take-away from my time at Exeter was learning to put yourself out there and try new things.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?    

I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes. There are pros and cons of each approach – grad schemes tend to offer additional support and can offer a faster pace of progression, but often at the expense of control over your career and you sometimes have to work stints in jobs you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen. It can be a bit harder (but not impossible) to progress at the same pace off the schemes, but you can absolutely work for the same companies, in the same roles, and you’ll have more choice over which moves you make internally. I was also so scared to take time out to travel, but I would recommend it to anyone!

My Placement at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

A seal, enjoying a stay at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Flo Taylor is a BSC Marine Biology student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. Flo recently completed a placement with the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

Why did you decide to take a placement module?

It was part of a compulsory Skills and Careers module in Year 1, but I wanted to volunteer at the Seal Sanctuary anyway.

What type of work you did on your placement, and how do you think this has given you experience for your future career?

I was an education volunteer, so I was engaging with visitors, answering questions and telling them about the animals and the charity. I even gave a few talks to groups of visitors about some of the animals.

“I was outside the whole time, which was great, and reaffirmed for me that I don’t want to work in an office!”

It certainly gave me more confidence in talking to and approaching people, and I came away with more knowledge about the animals and how a charity like that functions.

I was also outside the whole time, which was great, and reaffirmed for me that I don’t want to work in an office!

What did you enjoy most about your placement?

I loved knowing that I was contributing, supporting, and representing the Seal Sanctuary, somewhere that is well-known and well-loved. The people there are so friendly and it felt like a little community.

“I loved knowing that I was contributing, supporting, and representing the Seal Sanctuary, somewhere that is well-known and well-loved.”

I didn’t actually have any direct interaction with the animals, but it was wonderful to be able to see them every week, and I did come to recognise all the individual seals (actually quite hard to do!) and some of their individual quirks.

Do you think your placement has benefited the local community? If so, in what way?

My volunteering there will have certainly helped the Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary definitely benefits the local community, so I suppose, indirectly I will have benefited the local community.

The Sanctuary brings many tourists to the local area, and even just to Cornwall as a whole, which in turn benefits local businesses such as restaurants and B&Bs.

“The Sanctuary brings many tourists to the local area, and even just to Cornwall as a whole, which in turn benefits local businesses such as restaurants and B&Bs.”

The Sanctuary also supports and is supported by other businesses such as A&K Wildlife cruises, which operate out of Falmouth. The Sanctuary also brings so much joy to the local community. There are many people who are regular visitors and who know all of the seals as well as I did! So the Sanctuary absolutely plays an integral role in the local community.

Do you have any tips for other students looking for/undertaking a placement?

Perseverance and knowing how to write a concise, well-structured email are absolutely key.

So many places will either not reply, say no, or say not right now, and all of those are OK and should not discourage you. Keep emailing lots of places, and send appropriate follow up emails when you don’t get a reply.

“Perseverance and knowing how to write a concise, well-structured email are absolutely key.”

It’s also definitely worth emailing places even when they don’t have anything advertised right at that moment – perhaps they are about to advertise something and you might get in there early (that happened to me with the National Trust!), or at least you will have made yourself known, so that when they do want/need someone, you’re already there.

Being able to write a good email will make it easier for the recipients to read and make a decision about you. Be concise in what you want/ask for from the placement – how long, why you want it, what you want from them and what you can give back.

If you’d like to find out more about placements you can start your research here

Introducing the Career Mentor Scheme

Hannah, final year at the University of Exeter studying BSc Geography with Applied Geographical Information Systems

Hannah, please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the Career Mentor Scheme?

My name is Hannah and I am in my final year at Exeter studying BSc Geography with Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This is my second time participating in the Career Mentor Scheme, which is a 6-month programme, running twice a year, that matches current students and recent graduates with a sector professional.

Throughout the six months you’re expected to meet either online or in-person for at least 1 hour a month, although you can meet as many times as you and your mentor would like! At the start of the scheme you set career goals for yourself, such as improving your CV or applying for placements or graduate jobs, and during the meetings you get 1:1 advice, guidance and help on reaching your set goals.

“Going on the scheme improves your employability, as you can show you have been proactive in sourcing a 6-month mentorship and taken the initiative to improve your transferable skills.”

What have you done during your partnership so far?

My mentor works in the Earth Science sector. The scheme started in December so we are just over half-way through the partnership. They have been really helpful so far! I have started to apply to graduate jobs and further study and they have reviewed my CV and applications, and given useful feedback that enabled me to make my applications as good as possible! As a result of my strong applications I was given interviews at most of the places I applied to, and they helped me prepare by conducting a virtual mock interview. They created questions specific to the job and skills involved as well as personal attribute questions. I felt much more confident going into the interview after my meeting with them and I was able to prepare examples and skills after discussing my answers to some common interview questions. In my real interview they asked several of the same questions as my mentor, so I could use and expand upon some of my examples. I am thrilled to say I got the job and I know a big part of this was due to the preparation and advice I was given on my application.

“They have been really helpful so far. I have started to apply to graduate jobs and further study and they have reviewed my CV and applications, and given useful feedback that enabled me to make my applications as good as possible.”

Why did you apply for the scheme?

I saw the scheme advertised around campus and decided to find out more about it (the link to the website is at the bottom of the page). When I applied the first time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I thought speaking to a mentor in the Geography field might help me narrow down my options. I enjoyed my first time on the scheme, and it was instrumental in helping me source a second year summer placement as my mentor worked in the same field as my placement. It also showed I am proactive and used my initiative to source a mentorship, which gave me something to talk about in my interview.

I decided to apply for the current scheme during the first term of third year. I knew it would be very helpful for someone with experience of applying to further study/jobs in my sector to give me guidance, and I knew that as the scheme is very flexible I would be able to balance it alongside my dissertation, part-time job and other commitments.

“I would say to definitely apply. No matter what stage of your career planning you’re at, having a mentor to discuss your ideas with is very helpful.”

What would you say to someone thinking of applying?

I would say to definitely apply! No matter what stage of your career planning you’re at, having a mentor to discuss your ideas with is very helpful! Many of the mentors are Exeter alumni so they have been in our position and made the leap from a degree to the job market. Your mentor can provide insight into your subject sector or give you advice on applications, it is really up to you and what you want to get out of the scheme – some mentors can even help you find work experience or networking opportunities. I would say that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

There are mentors from all different sectors and working all around the world on the scheme, so there is most likely one in the field you’re interested in! Going on the scheme improves your employability as you can show you have been proactive in sourcing a 6-month mentorship and taken the initiative to improve your transferable skills. This means the scheme is a great thing to talk about at interviews or put on your CV.

What is the application process like?

It is first-come first-served. All the mentors have profiles on Handshake with information about their job, qualifications and skills they can offer to a mentee (such as mock interviews or work experience). Once you have found the mentor you would like to apply for there is a link to a Microsoft Form. There are four main questions to answer to apply, which relate to careers research, suitability and what you’d like to get out of the partnership. I would recommend writing your answers to these in a word document as it’s easier to check the spelling and grammar. It’s really useful to add lots of detail and examples in your application to demonstrate any points that you make.

Using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique is really important in your application, and is great practice at mastering the technique ahead of job applications. Employers love this way of writing an application as it gives specific examples and sets out in detail what steps you took to overcome a problem or achieve something. The more detail you can add about this the better! The Career Zone has workshops such as Effective Application skills if you decide you need some help on writing your application. Your mentor is sent your application so it is important to tailor it to their profile, as you would with a job. This may sound like quite time-consuming but it took me around 45 minutes to apply, which is something you could do in between lectures or over lunch.

“If you have any questions about the application process or the Career Mentor Scheme in general, the team who run it are really helpful and always welcome any emails, so don’t be afraid to reach out.”

Once you and your mentor are given contact details, you are expected to take the lead in contacting them and organizing your first meeting where you can get to know one another. The scheme is definitely worth the time spent applying as it can open a lot of opportunities! If you have any questions about the application process or the scheme in general, the team who run it are really helpful and always welcome any emails, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Their email address is: .

Applications for the new scheme are open now. I hope that I have shown you how great the scheme is and why you should apply! Remember to look on Handshake and get your application in early so you don’t miss out!

You can find out all the details about the Career Mentor Scheme here: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/careers/employability-schemes/careermentorscheme/

The Career Zone – Helping you Reach your Career Goals

Our range of services can really help you gain crucial experience, and boost your careers confidence. Even if you’re studying at Exeter for a year, we can help you maximise your time at University, and help you on your way to a bright future. We talked to Anda about her experience of using the Career Zone, and how we’re helping her with her career path.

Anda, please tell me a little about your background, you are a European student studying social science at postgraduate level at Exeter – why did you choose Exeter?

I am a European student and a Criminology and Psychology graduate. I study MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter. I have chosen to study for my Master’s at Exeter for a few reasons. Firstly, I chose Exeter because it is a Russel Group university and a leading university for research and teaching. I specifically liked the research culture within the Psychology department. Second, I wanted to study Social Psychology, and Exeter is one of the few universities that offer this specialisation in the UK. I really liked the practical aspect of my course, for example, we had an extended research project module and we got to learn and practice advance statistics which I believe is a great skill to have for employability.

Anda, current MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology student at the University of Exeter

“After the one year I have spent at the University of Exeter I can say that the career advice and support I have received at the University were one of the best opportunities for my career.”

In your time at Exeter what was particularly useful to you about the services the University offered?

While I expected to really enjoy my course, I did not expect the Career Zone and employment opportunities to be so good. Now, after the one year I have spent at the University of Exeter I can say that the career advice and support I have received at the University were one of the best opportunities for my career, as it really helped me develop the skills for searching, applying and securing jobs but also offered me the opportunity to apply for internships within the University and get the essential work experience I needed.

You told us that you used Handshake and our webpages to apply for five jobs in the year and actually took four of those jobs on – four jobs in one year! Tell me about that please, how was the application process, how important were the jobs to your career development?

Yes, I have used Handshake and I have applied and worked on two Student Campus Partnerships (SCP) jobs in current research undertaken at the University, one marketing internship through the Pathways to Marketing scheme where I worked as a Data Analyst within a marketing company, and I worked as a Student Ambassador.

I found the Handshake site very useful. When I was looking for jobs, I would write in the keywords I was looking such as ‘research’, and I would check it periodically to find new opportunities. I found it very useful that underneath each job posting the Career Zone attaches a short advice list that summaries all the things you need to consider when writing an application (such as information about how to write a cover letter). All the University internships come with a standardised application form which makes it very easy to structure your answers and learn what employers are looking for at each stage. Therefore, the process of applying to jobs at the University of Exeter is easy because it is streamlined and organised.

The jobs were very important to my career development. Before coming to Exeter, I only had one relevant job experience (for the career that I want) and some volunteering experience. Now, I have three other extremely relevant positions on my CV and I have learned so many useful skills that have helped me develop professionally and bolstered my confidence.

“The jobs were very important to my career development. Before coming to Exeter, I only had one relevant job experience and some volunteering experience. Now, I have three other extremely relevant positions on my CV and I have learned so many useful skills that have helped me develop professionally and bolstered my confidence.”

Could you tell me about some of the workshops and sessions run by the Career Zone that you undertook?  

Before I started applying to jobs, I went on Handshake and booked many sessions that could help me improve my employability skills. I have attended sessions on writing your CV, cover letter and interview skills. I have also attended employers’ events and meetings, LinkedIn workshops, and a workshop about building resilience and confidence. I have also used an interview tool provided by the University which simulated a trial interview with pre-made questions and a video recording option.

I also had the opportunity to be appointed to a mentor through the Career Mentor Scheme and I have received valuable career advice from my mentor.

Lastly, I have applied for and was awarded the Exeter Award which is an acknowledgement from the University of all the extra-curricular activities I have participated in such as training and jobs.

You had also done some online self-evaluation, to assess your strengths and weaknesses, how did that help you?

Yes, I did. I feel like the evaluation tools mostly confirmed what I already knew but I have taken into consideration my results and used the identified strengths in my CV, while I started to work on my limitations in order to surpass them.

“I believe that my course and amazing lectures and as well as the Career Zone workshops and work experience have helped me develop personally and professionally and offered me the tools to reach my career and academic goals.”

You mentioned to us that doing all of this extra-curricular activity gave you extra confidence, that’s great, how do you think this will help your plans for the future?

I gained a lot of confidence in the last year as before coming to Exeter, I found job applications daunting and I was very pessimistic about my employment opportunities. However, once I gained the right skills through the sessions I have attended through the career service and I started to apply for positions that I was actually appointed to I felt better and better about my capabilities, knowledge and future prospects. As a result, prior to finishing my Masters, I started applying for PhD positions because I have always wanted to work in research and academia.

After a few applications, I have been awarded a funded PhD position for the project I was most interested in. I have worked very hard for both my academic and extra-curricular achievements but I am also very grateful for all the help I have received here at the University of Exeter. I believe that my course and amazing lectures and as well as the Career Zone workshops and work experience have helped me develop personally and professionally and offered me the tools to reach my career and academic goals.

We’d love to help you with your career planning, come in and see us in the Forum, Streatham Campus, or in the Exchange, Penryn Campus.

Or you can live chat with us on our website

email careers@exeter.ac.uk

call us 01392 724493 9am – 5pm

Monday to Friday, including Vacations 

Introducing ‘Create Your Future’

Hannah, Year 2 Applied Psychology student, and SCP with the Create Your Future team

I’m Hannah and I’m a Second Year Applied Psychology student working part-time with the Create Your Future team.  

What is Create Your Future?

Create Your Future is a compulsory, full day programme for all First Year students and is unique to the University of Exeter. The programme appears on students’ timetables, and they are emailed about the event in advance. The aim of the day is to stimulate thought about what future career you might want to pursue, and the steps you need to take to help you achieve your goal. Students are expected to attend three live online workshops, and complete online activities independently. These are discipline-specific and tailored to the stage of career planning you are at. During the day, students reflect on their values, motivations, and goals, learn what employers are looking for and cover important topics such as commercial awareness. Additionally, students are introduced to the support available from the Career Zone. Upon completing the programme, students should have a clearer idea about how to achieve their career aims and where they can find support if needed.

“The aim of the day is to stimulate thought about what future career you might want to pursue, and the steps you need to take to help you achieve your goal.”

What is Create Your Future like?

As I am a Second Year student, I completed the Psychology Create Your Future day back in October 2020. I remember feeling apprehensive when I saw the event on my timetable as thinking about my future career, when I had only just started University, felt like a massive and unnecessary step. However, as explained by the Create Your Future team, this is to give us time to explore lots of career options, and develop the skills needed for those careers. Once I started the online activities, I was glad that this was the case. It became clear that I needed a lot more work experience! This is because I learnt that for every skill an employer looks for, you need to provide evidence for having that skill. By completing the online activities, I was able to see which skills I had not yet developed through work experience.

For me, the key underdeveloped skills were basic IT and customer service. Therefore, doing the online activities narrowed my focus as to what kinds of work experience I should look for. I used the Career Zone website to which we were signposted in workshop three, to explore current job vacancies within the University and in the Exeter community. Coincidentally, this led me to see and apply for the job vacancy of Programme Assistant within the Create Your Future team. In this role, I provide practical support for students taking the programme. Therefore, the Create Your Future day was really influential in kick-starting my career planning. The programme made me reflect on how I could become more employable and encouraged me to progress and find work experience.

“The programme made me reflect on how I could become more employable and encouraged me to progress and find work experience.”

Another aspect of the Create Your Future programme which I found useful was exploring the jobs that Exeter Alumni have progressed to and how they achieved those jobs. When I did this activity, I listened to a Psychology graduate in events management. She emphasised the value of getting involved in a University society to help organise activities. Her understanding was that experience of organising events, large or small, was highly sought after by recruiters. Listening to these recordings is really helpful, as you can use the personal experience of Exeter Alumni to discover more about a career and how to prepare for it.

Another beneficial feature of the programme is that the online activities require a large amount of reflection. For example, one of the activities is a values exercise. This pushes you to think about what kind of working life you want to lead. Is it important for you to have a good work-life balance? Is it important for you to be highly paid? Is it important for you to have big responsibilities? Thinking about these things will be useful once I graduate, because I will be able to ensure that I am applying for jobs suitable for my aspirations.

“Thinking about these things will be useful once I graduate, because I will be able to ensure that I am applying for jobs suitable for my aspirations.”

My advice

I believe Create Your Future it is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out. I encourage students to attend their session with an open mind, and work through the online activities at their own pace, without rushing. You might just learn something useful!

My Placement with Helston Climate Action

Chloe with the leaflets she helped design for Helston Climate Action

MSc Sustainable Development student, Chloe Lawson, recently undertook a placement with Helston Climate Action Group as part of the optional Independent Work-Based Learning module on the MSc programme. 

“The module lead presented us with a number of potential projects to get involved with, and the one with Helston Climate Action stood out the most to me. This is for a number of reasons, mainly though because whilst I felt I had skills aligned with this project there was also the opportunity to get involved with things I had never done before, and that challenge particularly drew me to this placement. I also strongly believed in the project aims, and supported the cause of the organisation as a whole.

“My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team.”

Throughout my placement I was involved with a variety of work, from researching barriers for people engaging with climate change, to designing and analysing surveys to understand how much locals knew about and engaged with climate change. As well as this I helped promote the project using a variety of platforms, and created blog posts about how to join the project. Additionally I helped design leaflets to advertise this project and then helped deliver these leaflets to locals across Helston (in line with COVID-19 guidelines). The pandemic significantly affected my placement. All our meetings took place online, we had to halt leafleting when a lockdown was announced and as we couldn’t talk to a lot of people in person there was a very low sign up rate to the project.

However, despite COVID-19 I had a very positive experience in undertaking a placement, and I am so glad I choose that module, so thank you for everyone who had that possible! I also managed to get another internship as a result of one of the team members on my placement sending me the role and then providing a glowing recommendation. So there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!

“…there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!”

My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team. I wouldn’t have found my placement without them. However, I would also say never be afraid to get in touch with companies yourself, remember you are a valuable asset and companies also gain something by having you there.”

Alumni Profile – Matthew Grover, Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association

Matthew Grover, Exeter Alumn, and current Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association

Matthew Grover is Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). He Graduated from the University of Exeter, St Luke’s Campus, in MSc Sport and Health Sciences, 2017. Read about how he uses his experience to make difference, and where his ambitions will take him in the future.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since leaving Exeter I have gone on to work at two organisations, Tennis Foundation and now, the LTA. Within the Tennis Foundation I was Disability Development Coordinator where I was responsible for the following:

  • Held to account for all general and specialist enquiries for inclusion and accessibility involving disabled people.
  • Trained LTA Services Team that increased confidence with disability enquiries, reducing personal engagement of ‘general’ enquiries by 57%.
  • Monitored and evaluated national participation metrics, producing integral reports outlining findings by increasing validity and reliability. Developed an effective monitoring plan for venues, resulting in discrepancies reducing by 44%.
  • Led on daily invoicing and monitoring of expenditure in line with budget expectations c. £451k.
  • Delivered stringent and bespoke disability workshops and events that educated venues on reasonable adjustments for disabled people to be included in sessions and developed opportunities.
  • Key stakeholder management with national and regional partners, such as: British Blind Sport and Enable Leisure and Culture that impacted in positive change of increased participation for disabled people.

Through my time at the Tennis Foundation, one of my biggest achievements was working within a team that collectively engaged over 12,600 people with a disability playing tennis at least once a month across wheelchair, visual impairment, learning disability, deaf or hard of hearing and mental health categories. As a result, the Open Court disability development programme is one of the largest disability specific development sport programmes in the UK.

“Through my time at the Tennis Foundation, one of my biggest achievements was working within a team that collectively engaged over 12,600 people with a disability playing tennis at least once a month across wheelchair, visual impairment, learning disability, deaf or hard of hearing and mental health categories.”

During my time at the Tennis Foundation and coming towards the end of my first year we were notified of a merge of activities between the Tennis Foundation and LTA to unify tennis, which ultimately resulted in my role being made redundant. At this time, I therefore had to go through the stage of reapplying for a position within a new team, new structure and a new organisation. I was unsure of my career path at this time as I lost a role I was passionate about given my personal and professional involvement in disability tennis. However, I looked ahead and saw the benefits that this will give for me to work in performance sport, as without understanding the landscape at grassroots; it is hard to transfer into elite through knowledge at every age and stage of the pathway. As a result, I was offered a role as LTA Support Assistant.

As part of this role, I succeeded in the following:

  • Held to account for co-ordination and customer support of all LTA Participation Directorate activities with aims of increasing fan engagement and opportunities to participate in tennis.
  • Management and co-ordination of LTA learning disability and visually impaired tennis festivals; working with colleagues, partners, clubs and charities with results displaying an 18% increase in participation.
  • Co-ordinate and operationalise the LTA Open Court disability tennis programme including; monitoring and evaluation, coach/venue workshops and providing legal advice that increases inclusion and accessibility for disabled people in tennis. Analysis has displayed a 16% increase in participation.
  • Experienced delivery of forums and workshops that drives opportunities and sharing ideas of best practice aligned to the LTA’s vision of Tennis Opened Up to increase engagement.

An exciting project I led on was an Inclusive Tennis Festival that was hosted at the world famous Queen’s Club, London. This festival created an environment to show that tennis can be played by anyone and break down barriers of tennis being seen as an ‘elitist sport’. Within this festival we had over 100 participants, a 44% increase from the previous year with participants from all disabilities of wheelchair, visual impairment, deaf, learning disabilities showing that tennis can be truly inclusive and diverse. Without this experience, I would not be in the role I am today as Wheelchair Pathway Manager. I have always worked in tennis and had the ambition of working in the elite level, so my current role within the LTA is perfect and an opportunity to progress my career where I would love to be a Performance Director.

“I have always worked in tennis and had the ambition of working in the elite level, so my current role within the LTA is perfect and an opportunity to progress my career where I would love to be a Performance Director.”

As part of my current role, I get to be heavily involved with players on the elite side of tennis, with responsibilities including the following:

  • Leading on delivery of Regional and National-Age Group programmes for high potential junior athletes.
  • Leading on annual (evidence-based) talent selection policies and processes for Regional and National-Age Group programmes.
  • Ensure new talent selection policies and processes comply with current and future classification eligibility requirements for Paralympic Games and Grand Slams.
  • Support the production and consistent implementation of a wheelchair player development curriculum.
  • Leading on evidence-based quarterly review of Talent Programme players’ progress against their Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
  • Collaborate and work in partnership with the LTA Participation Team, Sport England, UK Sport and BPA to lead the design and delivery of innovative talent attraction campaigns to attract juniors into tennis.

The attributes and responsibilities above really excite me to progress in my career to find our next Grand Slam and Paralympic champions.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?   

I chose this career as I have always been involved in sport from a very young age, especially tennis. Having that personal experience from watching tennis live at Wimbledon really gave me a buzz to continue in the sport that has given so much to me as a person. What I enjoy most about my work is no day is the same. Through my role I get to work across many departments which people do not realise. For example on the performance side, I work closely with strength and conditioning coaches to ensure players have an appropriate programme to compete at the highest level, physios to ensure athletes are always healthy and fit, and psychologists to help them in their right frame of mind to compete at the highest level. Other areas that I get to be involved with is finance from managing budgets, marketing with a focus around campaigns and major events in managing a players programme and competition schedule. Finally, one of the massive benefits of my role is I get to travel nationally and internationally. For example, I have been very fortunate to travel to Australia to support the players and team at the Australian Open and warm-up events prior to this.

“I work closely with strength and conditioning coaches to ensure players have an appropriate programme to compete at the highest level, physios to ensure athletes are always healthy and fit, and psychologists to help them in their right frame of mind to compete at the highest level.”

What did you enjoy most about your time at University, and what was the biggest highlight?

The thing I most enjoyed about the course was the opportunities to get involved in different projects with my friends. Also, the support I received during my time there from fellow students, PhD students, tutors and lecturers. All together opened up avenues for me to progress in my personal and professional development which resulted in me achieving my biggest highlight which was gaining my Masters Degree, with Merit.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

In conjunction with my Masters studies, I was University Tennis Coordinator where I looked after the development and student programme for Exeter University Tennis Club. I would say the biggest skill I learned during this time was time management. Being able to manage work and study was critical in achieving my degree and positive improvements of the student programme where tennis participation increased by 5% over two years. Other skills I learned that were directly impacted by my studies where I have now transferred them into my current role are research methods through analysis of work, psychology – working closely with our sports psychologist and strength and conditioning to manage players’ programmes.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

The biggest advice I would give is to get involved with as many things as possible from grassroots to professional sport. Doing this will expand your knowledge and stand you out from other candidates that may be applying for the same position.

“The biggest advice I would give is to get involved with as many things as possible from grassroots to professional sport. Doing this will expand your knowledge and stand you out from other candidates that may be applying for the same position.”

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to now develop a comprehensive wheelchair pathway strategy for the next two Paralympic cycles of Paris 2024 and LA 2028. This is to ensure we are the leading nation in elite wheelchair tennis creating a pathway for champions, which makes Wheelchair Tennis relevant, accessible and welcoming to high potential athletes. Ultimately the end goal is to become a Performance Director at a leading NGB in the UK or globally.

Module Choice – Learning for Teaching

Hi, my name is Connor Thompson, and I am currently undertaking a PGCE at the University of Exeter. I completed my undergraduate degree at Exeter studying Exercise and Sports Science. 

Connor Thompson, current PGCE student at the University of Exeter

With teaching as a possible career choice, the “Learning for Teaching” module certainly stood out as a “must pick”. The “Learning for Teaching” module gave me the opportunity to observe and experience quality teaching in a local school of my choice. Alongside this, the learning for teaching module provided me with critical research practice and exposed educational theories that shape school policies, teaching practices and the curriculum today. This module gave me insight into the expectations of educational writing styles and this has helped me throughout my PGCE assignments. Picking this module supported my decision in choosing a Primary PGCE because it gave me the practice and experience I needed.

“Picking this module supported my decision in choosing a Primary PGCE because it gave me the practice and experience I needed.”

The “Learning for Teaching” module helped me to find out what I wanted in my teaching career. Before starting the module, I was convinced that I would be a Secondary school PE teacher with all my focus on that. However, deciding to gain some experience in a Primary school completely shifted my focus and truly broadened my perspective of what teaching and learning can be. My placement in a Primary school played a vital role in deciding how my future would look, and helped me in my decision to embark on a Primary PGCE.

“I built up the confidence to read to the class, I learnt how to manage low level disruptive behaviour and I developed a competent level of understanding around phonics.”

My “Learning for Teaching” placement, for me, was the most valuable part of the module. Although this may sound insignificant at first, having the opportunity to be an adult at the front of the class really opened my eyes to the role I could play in society and the local community. I built up the confidence to read to the class, I learnt how to manage low level disruptive behaviour and I developed a competent level of understanding around phonics. Most importantly, I experienced having a professional relationship with other members of staff and having a professional role within the classroom. In terms of subject knowledge, I was exposed to the National Curriculum and the fraction of it that was taught during my placement. This small exposure to the content, for me, was only an insight compared to the wealth of knowledge I am now gaining during my PGCE. However, this small exposure was eye-opening and one of the reasons why I chose to do a primary PGCE.

“The University lecturers on the “Learning for Teaching” module are overwhelmingly supportive and truly strive for you to be an amazing teacher one day.”

Within the module there were a range of topics covered including the Purpose of Education, Social Disadvantage, Dialogic Teaching, EAL, SEND, Assessment, Using Technology in the Classroom and Reflective Practice. I valued these modules because they exposed me to information about education that you never normally think about. However, the standout topic for me was English as an Additional Language. The EAL topic especially, has helped me during my placement in considering alternative ways to teach and develop my planning for an EAL pupil.

The University lecturers on the “Learning for Teaching” module are overwhelmingly supportive and truly strive for you to be an amazing teacher one day. Choosing to do a PGCE at the University of Exeter continued my professional and supportive relationship with the university staff, thus ensuring no student is isolated during the start of their teaching career.

“My career aspirations are to be a class teacher at first and then progress to be a co-ordinator of an academy trust or equivalent, then potentially one day to be a head-teacher.”

I am currently on my first placement completing a primary PGCE with mathematics at the University of Exeter. I am now teaching upper KS2 across the National Curriculum from Maths and English to Art and History plus many more subjects. I am currently planning, delivering, marking and reflecting on my practice every day and this is now a part of who I am. An additional part of the PGCE course is giving me the opportunity to complete two M-level assignments. This is currently helping me critically evaluate research literature and educational theories. The studies I have completed so far have influenced my pedagogical knowledge and the way I teach, specifically creatively.

My career aspirations are to be a class teacher at first and then progress to be a co-ordinator of an academy trust or equivalent, then potentially one day to be a head-teacher.

Find out more about the Learning for Teaching module https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/education/study/teachingexperience/

For info and advice about all Online Module Selection options https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/infopoints/yourinfopointservices/oms/

Dom Walter, Assistant Producer, BBC Natural History Unit

Dom Walter, Exeter Alumn and current Assistant Producer, BBC Natural History Unit

Dom Walter graduated from the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus in BSC Biological Sciences with Study Abroad 2013, followed by MSC Conservation and Biodiversity 2014. He’s currently an Assistant Producer with the BBC Natural History Unit. 

Tell us about your career, and the exciting things you’ve been working on…

Since leaving Exeter I have been working in the film industry, specifically making scientific and natural history documentaries. Scientific documentaries are a great source of knowledge; they have always inspired me to explore and learn more about the complex world we live in. A major reason why I decided to venture into scientific film is that, during my time at University, the dissemination of scientific findings and the challenge of putting them into a relatable context via means of visual presentations was the most enjoyable aspect of my course. Television is a powerful medium for communicating scientific research to the public; it uniquely transports people into a world, which would otherwise be inaccessible. It also captures events at a specific time and space, making them accessible for generations to come.

“I’ve dined on the border of North Korea, hung out with astronauts, flown in helicopters over glaciers in Alaska, and touched a Tyrannosaurus rex as it was being exposed for the first time in sixty six million years!”

Television creates a window through which future generations can witness all the weird and wonderful flora and fauna which, due to the recent elevated extinction rates, they may not have had the opportunity to observe first hand. One of the best things about working in this industry is by far the unparalleled access to places and people you get. Over the last couple of years, I’ve dined on the border of North Korea, hung out with astronauts, flown in helicopters over glaciers in Alaska, and touched a Tyrannosaurus rex as it was being exposed for the first time in sixty six million years!

What advice would you give anyone interested in getting into natural history broadcasting?

Grab a camera, an iPhone will do, and practice visual storytelling. Find something that captures your imagination and run with it – make a film! Could be on anything from understanding the iridescence of neck plumage of a pigeon on campus, to flying out to Borneo and capturing the mellifluous love songs gibbon pairs perform every morning!

Speak to as many people in the industry as possible. Call up and email production companies and try book in some work experience with them. You will get a lot of rejection but don’t worry, it only takes one acceptance to get your foot in the door so be tenacious.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to direct a BBC landmark series with the man himself, Sir DA!

Ayesha Tandon – Climate Science Communicator, UK Met Office

Ayesha Tandon Graduated in MSci Natural Sciences, 2019. She’s currently a Climate Science Communicator at the UK Met office. Find out the steps she took to get into this exciting career. 

Ayesha Tandon, Exeter Alumn and Climate Science Communicator at the UK Met office

I work as a Climate Science Communicator at the UK Met Office, where my job involves helping members of the government and general public to easily understand important aspects of climate science. I started my career at the Met Office as in intern in the summer of 2018 and loved it! I continued to work part-time at the Met Office throughout my Masters year, and this experience helped me to get an internship at the climate journalism group Carbon Brief during the summer of 2019, where I was focusing on improving my writing. Following this internship, I began to work for the Met Office full-time. Climate change is a hugely pressing issue; human activity is already causing large-scale changes to the climate system that are likely to cause more severe impacts in the coming years.

The Met Office Hadley Centre produces world-leading research on climate science, but this is often highly technical and can be difficult to understand. This is where Climate Science Communicators come in! We write paper summaries, produce briefings for government, draft text for the Met Office website, and design infographics to explain climate research more easily, allowing people without a scientific background to understand important pieces of science. It is very difficult for anyone to care about something that they cannot fully understand it, so this work is crucial for bridging the gap between scientists and policy makers.

“The Met Office produces world-leading research on climate science, but this is often highly technical and can be difficult to understand. This is where Climate Science Communicators come in! We write paper summaries, produce briefings for government, draft text for the Met Office website, and design infographics to explain climate research more easily, allowing people without a scientific background to understand important pieces of science.”

Finding this job was a very happy accident. When I started my degree in Natural Sciences in 2015, I was completely clueless about which area of science I might want to pursue. I was drawn to a range of different topics throughout my degree, but climate science turned my head in third year and that was the one that stuck. I also enjoyed writing and editing for university newspapers and journals throughout my degree, and was always on the lookout for some elusive job that could combine these two interests. My application for an internship at the Met Office in Climate Science Communication was very last minute. Some of my friends were finishing off their applications, and I thought ‘Why not?’ I did not think that it would come to anything, and was torn between which of the multiple internships I should apply for. In hindsight, I feel very lucky that I picked the right internship, because I have loved my work at the Met Office!

My favourite part of the job, as cheesy as it sounds, is that it allows me to share my love of climate science with people! This job allows me to talk to world-leading scientists about cutting-edge research, and then think of creative, informative ways to share their work with the rest of the world. The first thing that I do whenever I start a project is to read whatever I can on the subject, and talk to the scientists leading the research, so my knowledge of climate science has ballooned over the past two years! I am usually working on multiple projects at one time, and a single project can take anywhere from hours to years to complete!

“I feel very fortunate that I chose to study at Exeter because it is such an international hub of climate science research and expertise.”

I feel very fortunate that I chose to study at Exeter because it is such an international hub of climate science research and expertise. I did not have any interest in climate science when I first joined the University, but I was surrounded by so much incredible research at Exeter that climate science quickly became my favourite topic. Plenty of the lecturers at the University have links with the Met Office, and many of the third year group projects were strongly linked to Met Office science and research. I even attended the James Lovelock Climate Science conference “a three day event that attracted people from around the world” on the Exeter University campus!

When I joined the University, I had no idea about which area of science I might be interested in, and so I really appreciated that this course allowed me to take my time to explore my options. The first year was an intensive year studying all sciences, maths, and computer science to get us up to scratch, so that by the time we reached second year, there was a huge choice of modules available to us. Those who knew what they wanted to study were able to specialise straight away, but others (like me) were able to spend a couple of years exploring different options. I started off my degree with an interest in nanotechnology, and came out of it specialising in climate science! I can’t think of many other courses that would have allowed this.

“The most important skills that I learned at University were definitely the soft skills that you pick up without realising, rather than specific facts or equations learned in lectures.”

The most important skills that I learned at University were definitely the soft skills that you pick up without realising, rather than specific facts or equations learned in lectures. For example, every year throughout my degree, we did a group project. I will be the first to admit that I found group projects quite stressful, and that I did not always look forward them. However, they taught me a huge amount about organising a team of people, about adapting my working style to fit with my course mates, and about playing to everyone’s strengths to get the best possible outcome from a project. I now work in a very diverse team of people at the Met Office and really enjoy it!

It is difficult to jump straight into a career; it is much easier to do it in lots of little steps. So keep your eye open for exciting opportunities and get involved in everything that you can at University because these things will give you experience, introduce you to interesting people, and be great stepping stones towards the next stage of your career. I didn’t enjoy every single one of the stepping stones that I took, but each one gave me some experience that I could put towards my next stepping stone. These extra things are great to talk about in interviews, and can really set you apart from everyone else. I think that this advice is probably relevant for the vast majority of careers.

My stepping stones towards my current job were:

  1. Writing for the student newspaper Exepose, and the Exeter Undergraduate STEM Journal in my first two years of University. These were publications that any Exeter student could contribute to, and were a nice easy first step
  2. In my third year of University, I joined the board editors for both publications. Again, this was a fairly easy step because I had experience with the publications
  3. I started a personal blog to develop my writing style a bit more. I didn’t publicise it to anyone, and just used it to explore different topics and writing styles. I now really enjoy writing for this blog.
  4. Internship at the Met Office in the summer of my third year. This was probably the biggest step, but it helped that I had a lot of experience to draw on. This internship was amazing, and it taught me a lot about climate science and its communication. I was then invited to continue working part-time throughout my final year at university.
  5. Internship at Carbon brief in the summer of my graduation. I used a piece from my blog, and my knowledge from the Met Office in my application
  6. Full-time job at the Met Office

I hope that I will be able to stay at the Met Office for at least a few more years! I recently completed media training and have started giving interviews and talks, which I am really enjoying. I also want to do much more outreach at schools to engage children more with climate change, so I have also applied to be a STEM Ambassador! I’m not sure at the moment if I want to pursue communications with government, outreach with the general public or both! That said, I also do miss getting stuck into maths and science, so there definitely is a possibility that I might do a PhD in the future. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do in the future, but I love where I am at right now!