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Chris Thompson

Career Path: Content Marketing Executive, Frank Recruitment Group
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

I left university unsure of what direction to take in my career. I held a master’s degree in Law, but didn’t intend on becoming a Lawyer or working in the sector. Luckily, I had other interests outside of my education that provided me with plenty of experience - I had been writing recreationally since about 2011, and was lucky enough to have built a decent portfolio in that time. While I was having occasional success with freelance writing gigs, my first full-time writing role was in 2015, when I joined a digital marketing agency as a copywriter. This proved a decisive move for me, as it gave me the opportunity to learn about the role of digital marketing in businesses across a wide spectrum of industries, as well as about search engine optimisation, which I now specialise in.

Although I was happy in my role, my writing outside of work began to gain more popularity, culminating in a book deal with a local publisher. I decided to leave my job to focus on the book, while also writing on a freelance basis. I built up my freelance contracts while completing the book, which meant I could do it full-time once the book was published. I continued as a freelancer until March 2017, when I discovered an exciting opportunity with my current employer that was worth making the move back into full-time work. No more lie-ins, but a new challenge every day. 

What are you doing now?Chris Thompson

I’m currently a Content Marketing Executive at Frank Recruitment Group. We specialise in niche technology recruitment, but my role in the business is to get potential clients and customers from social media and search engines onto our website. I do this by creating engaging content that will drive visits to our brand sites. I feel it’s the perfect role for me given my writing and search marketing experience.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

At the time, Northumbria was one of the only universities in the country with an integrated masters course in Law. You could achieve a masters degree in four years as opposed to five (three years for a degree, two for a postgraduate degree), and didn’t have to worry about funding or being accepted onto a new course. It was also local to me, so ideal for my circumstances at the time.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Lectures were there to present information and seminars helped reinforce it. I found seminars particularly helpful, as they offered the opportunity to discuss the subject with lecturers in a more conversational environment. It was also helpful to listen to the views of my fellow students, to get an idea of where they were in the learning process.

How connected was your course with industry?

There were regular guest lectures from people working in the legal profession, and a wealth of information was circulated about local events, placement opportunities, and notable changes in the law. As many of our lecturers were still active lawyers, there was clearly a connection with the industry.

What was the best thing about your course?

In the fourth year, there was a practical element in which we worked in the Student Law Office and handled real-life cases on a pro-bono basis. This was particularly helpful, as we had yet to apply our knowledge practically, and had no prior experience of law in practice. While I didn’t intend on going on to be a lawyer, I imagine this was very useful for some students in preparing for a real legal environment.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

I learnt many valuable skills on my course at Northumbria. Analysing sources is something that my course definitely helped with, as I was often tasked with sifting through hundreds of pages of legalese with the intention of extracting a relevant judgement or piece of persuasive precedent. As a journalistic writer, this is a skill that I’ve relied on regularly when researching and referencing. Writing my dissertation was also a massively useful exercise, and benefited my structure and presentation of long-form content.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

I would advise anyone going to university to embrace and be grateful for the opportunity. It would have been easy to fall into the trap of treating university as just an extension of my boring and restrictive 13-year academic career, and not an opportunity to enrich the understanding of a subject I was passionate about. You have to take more ownership of your own learning at that level, and not fall into lazy habits or be resentful of your workload. It isn’t school, it isn’t an easy ride, and ultimately you will reap what you sow. Attend extra-curricular events and embrace any networking opportunities, as these can be just as valuable as the education element.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Difficult but worthwhile.

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