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Caroline Lewis

How a digital marketing course with Exeter College revitalised my career

March 2020 – Life was good. I had just turned 50, given up working full-time as a graphic designer and was enjoying working freelance for both a local and a national magazine. Little did I know how much my working life was to be impacted when the country entered national lockdown. Retail outlets closed, magazines paused publishing and my regular freelance work disappeared.

Plunged into days that blended seamlessly into each other with no deadlines, no projects and nothing in particular to achieve didn’t come easily. I had worked since the age of 16 and knew if I was going to get through this unprecedented part of history, I had to find work to give me a sense of purpose and routine. As some industries suffered, others flourished and local small business Devon Heaven was working flat out to meet demand for its postal cream tea and Devonshire food hampers. I applied for a job and joined the hard-working team packing food hampers. Standing on my feet doing physical work was so refreshingly different from graphic design and I loved it. It was really exciting working for a small business built entirely upon the success of digital marketing; something I’d always been really interested in and I’d ‘skirted around’ as a graphic designer but had never had the time or money to pursue in any detail.

One evening browsing Facebook, I spotted the digital marketing course run by Exeter College on my social media news feed and applied straight away. The Government funded course was running for 12 weeks, one morning a week specifically for adult learners looking to re-train and fill a skills gap – this was me! I asked my boss if I could swap my shifts at work to enable me to take the course and he was really supportive, seeing it as a benefit to me and the business. As the course start date drew nearer and Exeter College set me up with a college email and online learning account via Teams I realised I was already learning new things, I had never used Teams before! From initial registration right through to completing the course, the support from everyone at Exeter College was brilliant every step of the way. One of my favourite parts about the course was meeting fellow students via Teams and learning about their work journey and digital marketing experiences however big or small. Everyone had something to contribute to discussions and it seemed we were learning from each other as well as utilising the expertise of the tutors. Teaching was a blend of presentations, discussion groups and practical tasks and each week was crammed full of really practical advice, additional references and digital marketing ideas to try. There were also a variety of guest speakers who gave us really valuable insights into working in the world of digital marketing. If there was any downside to the course, it was there was so much to learn and not enough time!

Since completing the digital marketing course alongside my job packing cream tea and Devonshire food hampers, with the support of Sam and Becky at Devon Heaven, I have now moved into the office and I’m working on writing blogs for the website, learning more about Google SEO, sending email campaigns and managing the social media accounts. If you are thinking about learning a new skill, I would definitely recommend the adult learners digital marketing course at Exeter College. It has given me the confidence to broaden my horizons, keep learning and landed me a great job!