Picture of colouring pencils and sharpners

Hello, hello! today I am back with a chatty post about my experience balancing part-time study and full- time work. After I graduated from my Geography degree in 2012, I have spent the last few years working in Marketing and decided in 2015 to go back and study for a Chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate in Professional Marketing. This was normally a year long course but in the end it took me two years  (more about that later) however I completed it and now I have the certificate which I am very proud of.

The first module, I remember sitting down and actually feeling very nervous about studying because I hadn’t studied for a while and I really understood why mature students get so nervous! I soon got into the swing of things however. One thing you learn early on is that you need to keep on top of things and that the homework you cannot really miss, as if you do you are missing out on the extra learning which is only going to bite you in the bum later on. I had an exam for the first module so the pressure was off in terms of coursework. I was very lucky that I was allowed two days off per module for paid study leave at my work. Three weeks before I also dedicated one day of my weekend for exam prep.

The coursework modules were so much harder. The CIM is different to normal uni in that your lecturer can only look at your work once and not really give you much feedback. This is quite difficult with the CIM because at times I found the questions quite vague (my biggest bugbear of the entire course!) and half the time was spent deciphering these stupid questions but once you got you get your head around them it is ok. You have to start the coursework quite early because if you don’t you will easily fall behind. My lecturer was quite helpful in the fact that he had set out a timetable as a indicator of when different parts of the coursework should be completed, so I just followed that.

The final course work was Digital Marketing and that module practically broke me. It consists of six tasks. One of which is a podcast, Powerpoint, two blogs a briefing paper and a report. This module was so hard, in terms of sheer workload. I took about four days off and was working almost every Sunday from the start of the module to make sure I kept ahead. Again this module had a timetable to keep by, I did feel that we spent too long on the podcast (I think it took us three weeks) and not enough time on the other tasks.

My experience balancing both is that it certainly is doable especially if you don’t have any caring commitments (I don’t know how parents do it!). You just have to stay on top and try and dedicate a day to getting all the revision and course work done. I would also try and see if you can use a project for work as also part of your coursework as you are then killing two birds with one stone. Certainly booking annual leave helped as it allowed me to have a weekend and helped me not to burn out. If you do feel burned out or you end up with extra commitments – don’t be afraid to take some time out. I decided to take a year out between my second and final module and I am so glad I did. Yes it was annoying that I had to wait a whole year but the module felt so much more manageable and I could fully focus on it. I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude from 2016 to 2017.

When things get tough try to remember why you decided to take the qualification in the first place for me it was to give me a better chance for the future and also for me to take the experience back into my current workplace and implement – which I already have.

White desk with computer , keyboard, bag and sunglasses

Hello, hello, today this post stems from the fact that I get asked a lot how on earth I got to work in Marketing when I studied Geography. I don’t think appreciated that in Marketing certainly people tend to do a business or marketing degree and then go from there.

From Geographer to Marketeer

When I finished Uni I had no idea what I wanted to do. I originally did want to become a primary school teacher but after some work experience I realised that, that wasn’t the path that was most suited to me. Whilst working as a cleaner over the summer I applied for literally everything and anything and the job I got was to a Market Researcher year long internship at a students’ union. I got the role and as the role was in the marketing department I pitched in and helped out. The year flew by and a Marketing Assistant job came up at the current students’ union where I worked. I got the role and worked my way up to my current position as coordinator. Since then I have passed the CIM Certificate in Professional Marketing as I wanted to have a bit of academic knowledge to back up my experience.

I want to go down a different route to what I did with my degree. What can I do?

Firstly, be realistic. There are a lot of vocations where a degree is essential such as becoming a Doctor. If your vocation doesn’t require a degree look at doing some voluntary work or work experience in or around that area, as it gets your foot in the door. Look at joining some professional bodies, I am part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Most employers want evidence to see continuing professional development and joining a professional body is one way of doing this.

If you want to gain another qualification then again a professional qualification may be the best way of going about this. They are often cheaper than a three year degree and a lot of employers either want the degree or the professional qualification.

I also look at Linked In at other people who are in Marketing roles to see how they got to where they are, it really is fascinating seeing the routes over people have taken. Finally don’t under estimate your soft skills either. Try and position your skills on the application form in a way that if you don’t have the right key skills other skills you have may plug the gap.

Have you made the move from one career to another or landed a different job to what your degree originally was. Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Landscape shot in the Lake District

Sometimes there are just some things which happen which really make you appreciate the kindness in strangers. The other day I had that experience, I was on the train back from the Birmingham Half Marathon. It was a packed two carriage train from Birmingham to Rugeley and it was standing room only. Having already ran for 2 1/2 hours I didn’t particularly want to stand but there is no reason why I shouldn’t so I gritted my teeth and once the train conductor broke up two guys who were arguing about a whether there was room to stand down the carriage. We were off, I took a photo of the full carriage and tweeted it to London Midland and we all laughed as the conductor apologised for the overcrowding due to too many people getting on at the station (no s**t sherlock) as we pulling into Tame Bridge station I remember saying to my partner that I didn’t feel very well and the next thing I had fainted in the carriage.

The next thing I remember when I came too was a woman squirting water in my mouth. Everyone moved out of the way to let me lay down and I had a woman speak to me giving my glucose tablets (I chose the right day to faint for everyone had glucose tablets and energy gels left over from the race) and my mother (ex nurse) and a lady held my legs up to get the blood back to my head. The train conductor was lovely and had initially rang for an ambulance but I didn’t need one. Eventually I got onto the platform sat down and the train company paid for the taxi home. Funnily enough someone else also fainted on the platform.

I am really grateful for everyone that helped me and it just reminded me that there are lovely people out there.

Rebecca holding up her medal from the Great Birmingham Run 2017

I ran a half marathon.

I have officially joined the half marathon club!

On the 15th October 2017 I completed the Great Birmingham Run in a time of 2 hours 34 minutes. I am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. I knew that I would be able to do it mentally but physically I wasn’t sure if my body would hold up. I know it is a cliche but I enjoyed every mile and it really didn’t feel like I had ran a half, it felt like a 10k! Today I am going to chat about my preparation leading up to the half, what I took with me, my thoughts on the day, how I am recovering and what my next challenge will be.

Why Brum?

I had decided on Birmingham for my first half, because it is a city where I live close by so there wasn’t much travelling involved. In the past year I had started spending more time in Brum getting involved in a couple of blogger events, a few concerts and eating out- so it seemed natural to try and run it. The Great Birmingham Run is run by the Great Run company. The Manchester 10k was also run by them and it was really well organised so I knew it would be well organised – large event (read here on my experience of running the 10k).

Preparation

Moving from 5k to 10k is a lot smaller jump than a 10k to half. When I had booked this challenge back in August, I was fully aware of this. I had the Stafford 10k and a Go-Tri Duathlon beforehand but knew I had to get the miles up. I started running in the week after work more but then I started to stop as I was getting a nagging feeling in my right knee and foot. Around the same time I also stopped going to circuits as my favourite circuit session was in Stafford and when you work in Wolves I was not just going through one town in one rush hour – I was going through two. It was just too much. As it was getting closer I was getting more panicked, the duathlon in Newcastle-Under-Lyme I completed in an 1hr 1min 22secs, I found it tough and my legs felt like lead.

In the final week going into the half marathon I decided to focus on my mind. I downloaded a brand new playlist (ironically called the survival playlist) memorised the route so I knew in my mind certain points I could work towards and just reminded myself that I could least to get to 10k as I had ran 10k before.

The day

With the race starting at 1.40pm I had plenty of time to get ready. I took with me my running belt, three race gels, my debit card, phone, headphones and two bottles of water. I had joggers and sports jacket over my shorts and race top. I took the gels every 5k and every water stop I drank all the water. I learnt a lot from doing the Manchester 10k earlier on in the year. I hadn’t drank all the water properly and I was so dehydrated at the end that I had a banging headache. So now I drink at every opportunity even if I don’t want any.

When I started I didn’t have a time in mind, I just wanted to complete the half. I started off a bit slower than usual because I didn’t want to start at full pace and knacker myself out.I felt so good all the way round, everyone was fantastic coming out of their houses and cheering people on. I always enjoy the local support.

I have heard that the course was difficult with the ‘hills’ but I didn’t find it that challenging at all. I personally think it is the perfect beginner half really.

The day after the run before

As I am writing this up my legs are stiff. I decided to take the day off so I could sleep and give my legs the chance to relax and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel afterwards. I am weary that staying still isn’t healthy so I will be giving myself the fun task of cleaning the house.

Were you at the half marathon or did you run the full? Are you planning on running one? Let me know below.

Scafell Pike

So I have officially climbed up the tallest peak in England and have climbed up a mountain! I had to admit when my partner said to me that we were going to climb Scafell Pike I was thinking ‘really’ but I thought as I was here I may as well and also as I have the half coming up it is extra fitness! If you are thinking about climbing up Scafell Pike or are doing the Three Peaks challenge (you’re mad!) have a read about my experience.

Becky on the summit of Scafell pike

Before the trip

Like with most outdoor walks, you need to check the weather beforehand. We were originally going to go on the Tuesday but it was tipping it down. Therefore it is best if you build it as part of your trip rather than planning it on one day.

The path is easy enough to follow, however you should as standard bring a map and compass as if the mist comes over you (like it did with me) then it makes it very difficult to see anything too far in front. Also bring food and water to keep you going.

I would say you could walk Scafell Pike in good sturdy trainers, however walking boots is best. Especially if the rocks are slippery. I would also wear waterproof trousers and coat and bring a bag that you carry on your back (not a shopping bag like I saw one person doing!). A small first aid kit may be handy too. I had a little ‘medical’ moment myself, I slipped in the river and banged my elbow on the rock so hard that my body started to go into shock, I felt really faint ( I had fainted before and knew the warning signs), was boiling hot, felt that I was going to throw up and my hearing started to go. My partner helped me over on the other side where I got some water and laid down for five minutes and carried on as normal. Although I didn’t need any medical attention it goes to show things do happen!

Small waterfall at Scafell Pike

How long will the trip take?

It depends on your fitness levels. I am quite fit but struggle with anything that is on an incline so it took about 3 1/2 hours on the way up and 2 1/2 on the way down. There was one person who I spoke too that took 5 hours just for the way up!

Gravel path on Scafell Pike

What is the terrain like?

Being as it is a mountain, you’re going to expect rocks! The route starts along in a right of way footpath in a field fields you start heading up almost straight away. Then it turns into a rocky/ gravely type of path for a while. After you cross this small river it turns into rocks for a while until it settles out into this gravelly path. Half an hour before you reach the summit the path is just entirely rocks.

James, Becky and Lbs on the summit of Scafell Pike

Extra tips

Start in the morning or around midday at the latest if you are a novice. I saw people that were clearly novices walking up at three o’clock as I was on my way down. It is dangerous because you are not leaving yourself much time if you get lost or if the weather suddenly turns bad. The mist was really bad when I went and personally I felt it was too dangerous for anyone trying to reach the summit after us.

There are two main walker routes up but you need to make sure you get the same route back. This is because you can’t get to the other start point without it being a near two hour car journey.

There are toilets at the beginning where I started (Wesdale Head) the start of the trail isn’t well signposted.

I have to admit it has given me the bug to at least walk the other two summits in the UK, so I am going to try and do that next year. Snowdon will be easy enough for me to get too. Ben Nevis will have to be a holiday as I live quite far away from the place!

Have you climbed Scafell Pike? Have you done the three peaks challenge? Let me know in the comments below!