Here he tells us about the whirlwind of a year he's had, what his LJMU undergraduate and postgraduate degrees taught him, and his own tips for how to stand out from the crowd in the job market...
Hi there 👋
I’m Nathan Bickerton and I studied BA Business and PR and MSc Digital Marketing at LJMU from 2017 to 2021. Exactly one year ago today, on March 10th 2021, my career kicked off in one of the craziest ways possible - in a way I would never have imagined.
This story starts the day after I was made redundant from my part time job at Test and Trace, which I worked alongside studying for my masters.
My redundancy was given at really short notice and I didn’t have another job lined up. It was quite a stressful time. But after being made redundant, instead of applying for more part time work, I gambled my time and applied for lots of immediate start graduate schemes. And, like most people, I found the application processes tedious and unrewarding. Especially because many companies have outrageously long processes and don’t even acknowledge your application.
I spent three days applying for graduate schemes after being made redundant. On the evening of my third day applying for jobs, I googled ‘Steven Bartlett’ for inspiration. Steve had always been a major inspiration in marketing and I had followed him ever since my lecturer Keith Thompson recommended we do during a second year lecture. But when I googled Steve’s name, I noticed he did not have a Wikipedia page. I found this odd. Steve and his achievements are more than worthy of a Wikipedia write up, and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t on there.
Writing Steve’s page felt like a no-brainer because I had recently been rejected from a PR role due to a lack of writing experience. And I knew from seeing Steve’s personal brand that writing his page would be a great piece of content to share on my LinkedIn to evidence my writing experience. But I still slept on the idea. At the time, I didn’t know whether it would be worth spending half a day writing the wiki page and not applying for a job I so desperately needed to pay bills. But the following morning when I woke up, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write the page.
After about 4 hours - at midday - I had completed Steve’s Wikipedia page. Something in my gut told me that this idea was unlike anything I’d ever done before, so I called my mum to tell her all about it. Originally I had planned to post the page on LinkedIn, tag Steve, and hope he sees it.
But after consulting my mum, I decided to send Steve a DM on Twitter asking for permission to share the write-up. And this was the 100% right decision. Because incredibly, within fifteen minutes of sending the message, Steve replied calling my page “dope” and offering me an internship down in London with him and his team. Steve also publicly endorsed my efforts on LinkedIn.
And that’s when things really began to change…
Steve’s post about me went viral. It got millions of views really quickly and I was flooded with message requests, new followers, journalists wanting to hear my side of the story, a radio interview, podcast invites, job offers, freelance opportunities - you name it. I was even banned from LinkedIn because my account received such a fast burst of activity!
This one little idea somehow exposed me to so many successful people who previously wouldn’t have even taken time out of their day to acknowledge me - a graduate with little experience.
Steve changed the trajectory of my career forever, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.
What happened next
Shortly after the Wikipedia page went viral, I moved down to London to work with Steve and his team for a month. This role had me doing everything and anything, from creating social media content for Steve’s personal brand, to helping the producer, Jack film ‘The Diary of a CEO’, to fixing laptops. That job was one I’ll never forget, but I had to return back up North to finish my masters dissertation.
One month later after finishing the bulk of my dissertation, I began working for Rise at Seven as a Digital PR & Creative intern. At Rise my job changes every day. And I do all sorts, including:
Write digital PR campaign and reactive content
Creating digital PR campaign strategies
Outreaching stories to journalists
Managing a founder's personal brand
Creating social media content (we took Rise TikTok viral for fun the other month)
Brainstorming campaign ideas for clients & internal
Collecting and analysing data for campaigns and social media content
How my LJMU university degrees helped
My degrees are the foundation of all my marketing, PR, and social media knowledge. The digital media landscape changes everyday but the core skills needed to survive are timeless, and taught very well at LJMU.
My PR degree set me up with the skills and knowledge needed to become a PR consultant before even graduating. My favourite modules were Strategic Campaign Management, Issues in Crisis Management, and Change Management. Interestingly, I initially thought the Change Management module was a rather strange selection for a PR degree. But I couldn’t have been any more wrong. That module taught me theory which I apply pretty much everyday in order to understand why things are changing, and how to handle change effectively as an individual and team-member. And the campaign management module gave me enough understanding of what makes a good campaign and what doesn’t. Fortunately, I haven’t had to employ my crisis management skills yet. But when I do need to put them into practice, I feel well prepared.
My digital marketing masters gave me an invaluable skill set which I apply to my work every day. The module in data analysis and application was by far the hardest I’ve ever had to complete. But without a doubt, the data skills I learned from that module are some of the most important. The consumer psychology module taught me a deep insight into the wiring of consumer minds, and this helps me to brainstorm the hottest and most appropriate ideas for client campaigns. Lastly, the practical assessment we completed for our Digital Marketing Communications taught me skills in google analytics, trends, wordpress, mailchimp, etc, which I use daily for my role at Rise at Seven.
Also, it would be wrong to overlook the independent research, critical thinking, and analysis skills I picked up as a result of writing two dissertations. These are skills I employ all the time in my job and personal projects, which enable me to excel and continue my personal and professional development.
My tips for graduates or job seekers looking to stand out from the crowd
My recruitment process was not particularly normal because I had no interviews or assessment centres. But that is only because I took the creative application route, which was a bit of a risk as not all employers want creative applications.
Standing out from the crowd can be tough, especially when applying for graduate schemes because they tend to only want applications which follow their traditional-formal process.
Nevertheless, here’s a list of things in my opinion which anyone can do to stand out from the crowd:
Make a sick portfolio
Look for a gap in an individuals or businesses strategy and try to fill it
Try to stand on the shoulders of an influencer by doing something that benefits them
Fire up your personal brand on any social platform (Tiktok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram)
Create some content for a brand you like
Create a campaign plan for a brand or agency
Write a blog on topics you’re interested in
Engage with online communities, like One Minute Briefs (which is ran by former LJMU grad Nick Entwistle - who’s absolutely lovely)
Message marketing managers and talent acquisition people on LinkedIn
Create your own website
Run your own PR campaign - you can find and contact journalists easily on Twitter
Nathan is one of many LJMU graduates who recently joined a panel of Marketing & PR professionals, as part of a series of employer talks focusing on different career opportunities and giving students the chance to meet the professionals. The event was organised by Linda Graham and Julie Wright from Student Futures: LJMU Careers, Employability & Enterprise team.
If you are an LJMU graduate make sure you join our LJMU Connect community to keep up to date with opportunities, other graduates and what’s going on at the university.