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From intern to graduate to marketing specialist: my career with BMW explained

A highlight of marketing specialist Ellis’ graduate scheme was organising a press event that involved her driving a Rolls-Royce Dawn across a desert. Find out what a career in marketing is really like.
Internships are a really good in-road if you’re looking to work within a big organisation and particularly if you want to work at that organisation as a graduate.

I studied business because I really wanted to understand all aspects of how a business operates. I spent the first year at university discovering what interested me the most. Marketing really caught my attention, particularly with regards to how we can use data to inform business decisions around interactions with customers.

Work experience works

My internships and extracurricular activities were absolutely brilliant in helping me to confirm my interest in marketing and for standing out among business students. During my studies, I volunteered my time to small businesses to support their marketing (for example, helping out with photoshoots and events). I also worked on my university newspaper to demonstrate my interest in copywriting. Although my year in industry wasn’t marketing focused, it provided me with invaluable skills that I couldn’t pick up at university and that were transferable to new business areas, such as drawing insight from large data sets. I also completed all key Microsoft Office training modules to advanced level.

After graduating, I completed an internship with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in corporate communications. Internships are a really good in-road if you’re looking to work within a big organisation and particularly if you want to work at that organisation as a graduate; once you’ve met and built relationships with key internal stakeholders you will instantly stand out when you come to apply for its graduate programmes.

Add the personal touch to graduate applications

My advice to job-hunting graduates is to personalise your applications. Recruiters will see immediately if you use the same CV, covering letter and competency answers for every company. Take the time to print off the job description and pick out what particularly interests you about that role and the skills that you can demonstrate.

A structured programme

The two-year graduate scheme is structured so that every graduate has a ‘home’ department – the first six and final 12 months are spent with them. The second six months consists of two placements in other parts of the business. My ‘home’ department was aftersales. I was attracted to aftersales because of the nature of buying a Rolls-Royce – a Rolls-Royce lasts a lifetime so we have to consider the needs of our motor cars in 10, 20 or even 50 years. Aftersales focuses on our owners, and delivering the ultimate experience that makes owning a Rolls-Royce truly effortless.

While in aftersales I delivered a project that involved contacting Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ customers proactively. I created a customer communication plan, wrote copy for customer letters, developed scenario plans and produced a guide for our dealers. It taught me how to plan and implement a global project that had implications across the business; I also developed leadership, communication and negotiation skills.

All of the new graduates completed a week’s team challenge just after we started. We spent the week in north Wales, completing team building activities across the region. It was a really good opportunity to get to know each other. In addition, the graduate in my home department from the year above acted as my buddy. The support I received from both my buddy and my senior manager was really helpful at different points of my programme.

Driving across the desert

My highlight on the graduate scheme was completing a four-month rotation in the Middle East. Having the opportunity to experience an entirely different culture in both a professional and personal capacity was challenging at times but really good fun and a huge learning curve. I worked with the regional team on marketing and public relations initiatives. I organised my own press drive when we launched the Rolls- Royce Dawn, extending my project management skills to the world of events.

The event was focused on luxury lifestyle activities and included influencers from the worlds of fashion and lifestyle as well as automotive journalists. It involved driving from the city to the desert in our cars; 45 regional media professionals took part and it was very rewarding to see the positive press coverage as a result.

A changing industry

I applied for my current role on finishing the graduate programme and I now work in the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Private Office, which provides clients with direct, unprecedented access to the Rolls-Royce brand with an aim of setting the benchmark in luxury retail experience. I do find the luxury and automotive sectors continually interesting. With both legislation and advancements in technology, the industry never stops moving. The industry is traditionally quite male led, but I’ve seen that begin to change.

Driving your career

If you want to impress when you join a company, be proactive. As you learn your role, constantly question why things are currently being done a certain way and consider methods for improvement. You want to show your ‘value-add’ and doing things the way they have always been done adds nothing. You have a fresh pair of eyes, so use them!

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