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Northumbria Graduate Wins LinkedIn Award

Beth Watson Study


Laura Chetcuti graduated from the BA (Hons) Fashion course at Northumbria University in 2013. After opting out of a career in fashion, Laura now creates exciting digital content for the Edge Global Media Group, specialising in recruitment for the marketing sector.

Having won a prestigious LinkedIn Power Profile award this January, Laura’s online following has exploded, taking her career to new heights. With this year set to be her best yet, Laura reflects on her time at Northumbria, her job-hunting experiences and gives some fantastic advice for students. 

Feb -10-16_Laura -Chetcuti -Alumni -2_In Page 350“Winning a LinkedIn Power Profile award came as an absolute surprise to me, given how new I am to the industry. The first I heard about it was when I received an email, back in August 2015, informing me that I had won a place on the list of Power Profiles. I thought it was spam mail and brushed it off. It was only when I got an invitation to a formal event at the LinkedIn offices that I realised it was the real deal.

Not knowing what to expect, I turned up and immediately felt out of place. There was little me, surrounded by professional power-players with years of experience. It was madness! I was officially presented with my award and immediately shared it online through LinkedIn and other social networks, proud of myself but thinking nothing of it.

It wasn’t until the next day when I woke up to a social media frenzy that I realised the impact that the award could have on my career. My LinkedIn account had spiralled out of control – I was receiving tonnes of notifications congratulating me on my achievement and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

To put things into perspective, in just a month my followers shot up from 8,000 to 32,000 and the picture I took with my award has amassed 67,000 likes. People keep telling me I’m a LinkedIn celebrity! For somebody who creates digital content, having a following is so important – it has given my career a huge boost and my employers are seeing the benefits.

You may be wondering how a Fashion graduate finds herself writing recruitment content. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my course – in fact I loved my time at Northumbria, although it was very intense. I would recommend the Fashion course for any student interested in trends and design, but expect to work extremely hard.

If you don’t have a strong work ethic at the start of the course, you most definitely will by the end. Working to tight deadlines and managing heavy workloads is probably the most important skill I picked up during my studies, and has held me in good stead throughout my career.

My placement year added another dimension to my employability. I interned in London with fashion designer Jenny Packham and it was an amazing experience. That’s when I started to move away from design, as I preferred the behind the scenes production elements of the business. Experiencing the working world and having a taste for London life gave me so much confidence.

People act like work is such a huge deal and it can be quite daunting for students, but a placement just takes that fear of work away. When I interviewed for my first job, my employers could see that I had the nerve to put myself out there and do something that a lot of candidates have not. That’s very interesting to them.

Towards the end of my course, I realised that fashion wasn’t for me in the long run. I made the most of my final project and received some amazing direction from my tutors. They were so involved and interested in all of their students so I never worried too much about where I was headed. 

If I had wanted to work in the industry, there were a lot of opportunities I could have grasped as the tutors have some fantastic contacts. A friend of mine worked on a live project with Abercrombie in final year and secured a job with them, and other course mates are working for some really cool brands like Marks & Spencer and Yumi.

After an overwhelming final semester of Fashion, I took a summer off to recuperate and consider my options. I applied for all manner of jobs, and that’s how I fell into recruitment. Nobody goes to university with plans to work in recruitment, but I’m grateful that my first job, however difficult it was, helped lead me to where I am today.

When I started working for EGMG, I was working in resourcing which is a more direct form of recruitment, but I started getting bored and knew I had a little creative person inside me trying to escape. I’d recently started scooting to work, and when people saw me they would find it so hilarious, so I set up my own blog for fun in May 2015 and began writing about it.

My blog quickly evolved onto different topics, and one day I decided to write an article about the bizarre messages I had received on LinkedIn. Most people on LinkedIn experience strange messages from time to time, but nobody ever really puts it out there. I shared my blog post on LinkedIn and that went crazy. This was before my LinkedIn award and I wasn’t used to the attention. My post was racking up the likes and shares and in the end I just deleted it because it was freaking me out! 

Funnily enough, I have that post to thank for my current job. The team at EGMG is close-knit, and when my work appraisal came around in July 2015, I was ecstatic to discover that the company directors had seen the post and wanted me to write features for them full-time. It was the first time the company had ever done anything major with digital content, so I could really shape it myself.

Feb -10-16_Laura -Chetcuti -Alumni _In Page 350Now I run a content calendar, have targets to meet and work across three websites. I get to bring in some of my fashion skills as I create my own illustrations to work alongside the articles. Living the dream! I live in London permanently, which can be strange at times. The thing I miss most about Northumbria is the people. Everybody in Newcastle is such a laugh, not taking themselves too seriously.

I think Newcastle is a wonderful city for students. There’s always young people around and plenty to do but you feel safe as it isn’t too big. I kind of wish I could go back and appreciate that more. I was so wrapped up in my work that I didn’t make the most of it. I’m watching Fresh Meat at the minute and there’s so many reminders of my time at uni. I lived in Jesmond for a couple of years and it’s funny to look back and remember seeing pyjama-clad girls in Tesco on a Sunday morning. You just don’t get that relaxed vibe so much here in London.

Right now, I feel that I’m entering the best part of my career so far. I truly love what I do, and my job rarely feels like work. That’s not to say that it’s easy. There are three qualities you have to have when creating digital content. The first and biggest is resilience. As your followers grow and more people read your content, you are bound to come across people who disagree with you, and you could receive both professional and personal attacks.

You absolutely have to be passionate about what you do. It can be difficult to think of new things to write about every week and to keep on top of the latest industry developments. I’m going away for two weeks and I’ve had to think of and write scheduled articles in advance. If I didn’t care about my job, I wouldn’t have the willpower to sit at home on an evening and do it. But it is not a chore to me and that’s how you know you are really passionate about something.

The final quality that is essential is bravery. You really have to remove yourself from your comfort zone and put yourself in uncomfortable situations to get anywhere in life, or you remain average. I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had recently if I didn’t have the nerve to post about LinkedIn members like I did, or change my career path after graduation!

My advice for young people applying for jobs is not to panic about it. When you leave university, you expect to go straight to a job and it doesn’t always work like that. Don’t be disheartened if you go to interview and don’t get the job – the company obviously wasn’t right for you. Be really open to networking and reach out to your favourite companies or professionals. I am the biggest advocate for having a LinkedIn account because it opens up so many possibilities for new connections. One small connection could lead to your next job so you have nothing to lose!

Your CV should be simple, well organised – include a summary of yourself, your work experience and then your education and skills. Key words from your industry are a must – some job boards and companies won’t even consider a CV if appropriate terminology is missing. So if you’re applying to be a digital content writer, include those words in your CV. It’s amazing how many people forget this!

Mostly though, keep yourself open to different possibilities. I’m a firm believer in things just happening. A lot of times your CV just gets you through the door. You can even get a job over a cup of coffee without a CV.

I won’t be planning too far ahead. For now, I’m happy where I am; being creative and autonomous and writing funny articles. I don’t know 100% what my future will hold but I know that whatever comes along it will be fun.”

Find out more about our Fashion BA (Hons) course here.

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