Life after University and why I wanted to work at co&co

Olivia Bell 2022 10 03 155112 24f70b2400106f0946faa2d8ed6c1bc4
Olivia Bell

Olivia Bell

5 minutes


Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed three years of University where you have managed to meet deadlines, overcome pressurised environments, and acquire the ability to write an essay (without a detailed explanation of how to write one from your lecturers). Your reward? A single piece of paper and a shed load of debt! Does this piece of paper guarantee you a job? No! How good does that sound!?

Not great. It doesn’t even sound good but every year without fail there are around 562,000 students, such as me, that take the plunge to go to university.

So, what did I learn?

Looking back at my time at university, there are moments I might consider whether I spent my time well. It was such an incredible experience but not because of the lectures that were mostly online due to a widespread pandemic, nor the seminars that forced me to consider the societal commentary on classics such as Frankenstein, or deliberate whether Kant or Hume had the best argument on morality. My degree moulded my aptitude to write, communicate, and condense large research into concise essays. However, what I truly treasure from my time at university was the opportunity to form my identity. I learnt the ability to communicate with others, interconnect with large groups, learn from, and develop, alongside my peers to grow and develop interests and ideas. It is for this sole reason that I will never regret further education.

But this is not to say that being a graduate is easy after learning these skills.

The challenges continue but this time you can’t fall back on a marking scheme. As if you have been tossed out to sea to fend for yourself and find your own way to shore. Furthermore, you have no life jacket and there is a storm on the way (otherwise known as a recession), so you need to reach land quickly to find shelter, otherwise, you drown.

Just as 562,000 students are entering university, there are 527,000 students that graduate.

That is a mammoth figure, and it puts the competition into perspective. However, I was lucky enough that discovered my desired career path during my time at university. I knew I wanted a career that was creative, analytical, sociable, methodical, stimulating, and rewarding. As such, marketing felt like the most natural course to take. However, despite my hobbies that demonstrated my interest in the area, I was being turned away. Why? Because I was like every other student who had just graduated; I lacked experience.

So, I put my head down.

Although my personal hobbies demonstrated an interest, such as operating my own photography business, I was aware that I lacked the experience of working in an agency that future employers wanted to see.

It was the first time I truly understood the task ahead of me, I needed to fight for my place in the world. I find it shocking that took me as long as I had to comprehend it, but I usually had a vague plan that was laid out by society. This time I was alone. The job wasn’t going to come to me, I needed to go to the job.

This is when I came across co&co whilst looking at marketing agencies and consultancies across Manchester and Leeds.

Whilst looking at co&co's website, it was clear that co&co was the company I was looking for:

  • A small team - As a graduate, this was important to me. A small team means that you are more likely to be given the opportunity to handle multiple projects/tasks and such responsibility will force you to grow and develop good habits which will be beneficial in the long run.
  • No fluff – Whilst researching multiple marketing agencies, I found that there was an element of ‘fluff’ that bounced around its content. co&co’s refusal to follow to do the same was something that I really admired.
  • Clear ethics – From reading the reviews, it was clear that co&co had core principles that prevented its team to waver toward uncertain territory. As a graduate, it’s easy to lose sight of what you believe in just to get your foot in the door, but the first steps are just as important as the final steps as they shape your entire future and set the tone for the rest of your journey.
  • Welcoming – I only learnt this when I picked up the phone to ask for work experience. I was greeted by Jordan Stachini, the founder of co&co, who told me that her company doesn’t usually do work experience. However, the more that we talked, Jordan understood I was extremely eager to learn, and it was this passion that bagged me an opportunity to write some articles for Jordan. As a graduate, finding those who want to help is hard, in fact, it’s hard to get any help, (even more so from the founder of a marketing agency!) But Jordan demonstrated an act of kindness which will stay with me for a lifetime and echoes the ethos of the business she has built and is one of the main reasons why I wanted to work for her.

I am so glad I took the leap and contacted co&co, and from doing that I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to work with them.

However, this is not to suggest I haven’t been rejected before I reached co&co. In fact, I had been rejected so many times that I refused to send another CV until I called the company asking for work. It’s easy to believe that rejection is because you aren’t good enough, nor will you ever be. However, the reality is rejection gives you an opportunity to grow. Isn’t it true that we only learn from our mistakes?

The help I have received from Jordan has proven to me that employers want to hear your voice and your story.

It is unlikely that your CV will stand out amongst the other thousands of CVs that are being shoved in front of hiring managers, however, what will make you stand out is your personality. Making that known might be the distinguishing attribute that separates you from the rest.

Reach out and bring life to your application.

Jordan heard my voice, she wanted to help, and she offered me work experience. An opportunity to flourish, learn the ropes of marketing and further grow my interest in the area.

The world as a graduate is new, uncertain, and certainly scary, but you are not alone. The road ahead is not mapped out nor does it make any sense to anyone. Don’t be afraid to take up space. Good luck.

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