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Sarah Wong

Career Path: Digital Marketing Coordinator, intu Metrocentre
Location: Gateshead, UK

Whilst I was still studying at Northumbria, I started my own online business in which I continued after I graduated in 2009. I ran an online jewellery boutique which generated national press coverage and was worn by celebrities such as Fearne Cotton and Little Mix. During that time, I also started a fashion and beauty blog and in 2011, I was voted best blogger by LOOK Magazine. I had the opportunities to work with global and national brands such as F&F Clothing, Ted Baker, ASOS, Laura Ashley, Rekorderlig, Malibu Rum, and so many more. I was able to monetise my blog and run it as a full time job for four years.

 I was ready for the next challenge so I decided to move to London where I worked in the Digital Marketing Team at Soap & Glory. I came back up north and worked for luxury fashion department store as their social media and content editor. For nine months in between that time, I volunteered at my local Oxfam store to manage their social media channels until I was offered a job at intu Metrocentre in August 2019 to lead their digital channels.

What are you doing now?Sarah Wong

I work in the Marketing Team at one of Europe's largest shopping centres. As their Digital Marketing Coordinator, I lead on the centre's digital channels to implement local campaigns and execute the group's marketing strategies.

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

When I was 15, just before my GCSEs, I had requested lots of University prospectuses and after much research, I decided that Fashion Marketing at Northumbria University was the one I wanted to study. At the time, I got it in to my head that I wanted a career in Fashion PR and I knew this course would lead me in the right direction. I've always been creative yet commercially minded, so Fashion Marketing seemed perfect for me.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

It was intense but I prefer it that way. To be honest, I completely breezed through school and college, so the change of pace at University gave me the discipline I needed to succeed in the next stage of life. During third and fourth year, most days were 9-5 (towards the end of final year, it was sometimes 9-9 - and it didn't stop when you got home!). It was a really hands-on course with multiple projects going on at the same time. It was heavily focused on fashion and creative, with a small element of marketing incorporated in to the course. We had one two-hour marketing seminar a week in the first two years. The rest of it was garment production, pattern construction, textiles, fashion illustration, trend forecasting, photography, graphics, live projects with brands, and all things creative! Our tutors always provided feedback and didn't hold back on their words, it was tough but always helpful. The fashion industry isn't an easy one, so it equipped me for the 'real world' and it helped me to grow a thicker skin by the end of my four years.

How connected was your course with industry?

We had a placement year and live projects.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

I worked in London for a magazine that no longer exists - I didn't find it particularly useful as I spent my days in the mail room, running errands for editors and making cups of tea. Classic work experience stories to be told here, nothing special. However, my second placement was at a small, independent online business in Gateshead. It was an amazing time and this was my first proper experience in the world of digital. I learned so much and it inspired me to launch my own online business which I successfully ran for six years before it evolved in to full-time blogging. Ever since my second placement, every job I've had has been digital-based.

What was the best thing about your course?

I liked that in the first year, we started from basics. No matter what level you went in to the course at, you started at the beginning. Whilst I had previously studied fashion and clothing national diploma at college, I learned that not everyone came from an art/creative course. However, the 'easy' bit soon turned in to tough work. It was also highly useful that we got a placement year too. A lot of my course friends went on to work at the place they had work experience at, which meant that after they graduated, they were guaranteed a job. So many of them have gone on to do amazing things.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

Fashion Marketing at Northumbria is such a well known course, it is great to have it on my CV. But it has also been great to have had a strong portfolio to present to the employers when being interviewed by them. The work I produced made me stand out from other candidates.

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

Strangely enough, I actually didn't learn anything to do with digital during my time at university. That wasn't the Northumbria's fault at all. Digital marketing was a huge deal and social media wasn't as popular back then. Picture this, the first iPhone launched during my third year, Facebook was only available to students, Twitter had just emerged and Instagram hadn't been invented yet. I'm sure there's a whole module on the course about digital now. However, I am self-taught in everything I now know about digital.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I loved living in Newcastle and being immersed in the Geordie culture. Being at Northumbria and living there had helped me grow as a person. I've learned how to be strong, independent and determined to succeed and that is something you can't put a price on.

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

The most important thing is to be happy and look after your mental health. It will be scary at first but everyone is in the same boat. Try to implement a structure to your days and weeks from the beginning, so you don't get in to the wrong mindset. Your new friends (as well as the ones you have back at home) and your tutors will always lend an ear if you need help with anything. If something doesn't feel right, let someone know.

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

Memorable, challenging and rewarding.

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