How online study helped me to level up in my career

07 June 2023

Student Tom Holmes standing in a park
Tom Holmes MADC
Type: Text
Category: Studying

In this article, online graduate Tom Holmes talks about how studying for a master's degree online helped him to achieve his career aspirations. 

I’m Tom, and I graduated from MA Marketing and Digital Communications (Online) last year.

I first became interested in marketing and communications when I went into the advertising industry. Whilst working in branded content I realised I didn’t have a particularly broad view of the industry; I needed to develop my understanding of the underlying practices and theories of marketing to really nail the ‘why’ behind what we were doing. My previous role was quite operationally focused, so I wanted to take a step back and look at a more strategic view of the market.

The course, being very industry focused was exactly what I needed to build a deeper understanding of business practices. As well as having strong industry links, the online creative backdrop of Falmouth was similarly beneficial. Creative thinking is a skill that is becoming increasingly valuable in the market, especially as technologies are accelerating; the ability at the core of creative thinking — to look at a problem and come up with an abstract solution — is becoming more and more important.  

There were several areas of the course which I particularly enjoyed. The first, the opportunity to build up theoretical knowledge; learning about different marketing frameworks allowed me to deconstruct an array of marketing issues, and understanding how and why things affect customers. Then, the opportunity to apply that thinking to real-world brands, which really helped to embed the practice. The defining skill I took away from the course was the ability to craft strategies for the use of innovative technologies in marketing – that was very much my area of interest, and I was able to carve that out during my time on the course.  

You really do get out what you put into your studies. A benefit of the course for me was the ability to craft my own learning journey and develop my areas of focus. For me that journey was tightly aligned to making myself more employable at a high strategic level. 

For my Final Major Project, I researched how AR/VR can be used to improve customer relations. I talked to various subject matter experts, leaders in strategy, consulting and digital agencies to really understand their thinking around the benefits and the pitfalls of technology, its applications, and its limitations. At the time, this technology had a lot of hype surrounding it due to the launch of Meta, yet the tangible benefits were unclear. I took an academic and explorative approach, deconstructing it in a way that really spelled out the pros and cons. I did that because I was interested in strategy consultancy and using innovative technologies to reach audiences in new ways, so I wrote it as a thought leadership-style consultancy piece, and as a signaling of interest in that direction.   

The course has really helped me to progress my career in several ways. It has deepened my knowledge of the industry and has helped my ability to communicate points convincingly. Taking the master's was also pivotal in my move into a customer-focused management consultancy role; I applied for a role at a top consultancy early into my second year, and by the time I’d graduated, I’d secured a job there. I was able to demonstrate how the strategic thinking I had developed on the course enabled me to deconstruct complex client issues and come up with practical and effective solutions.  

My two key takeaways from the course were time management, and research skills. Time management is a big one – doing the course while working was challenging, but it really helped me to learn how to manage my time effectively. But I'd say the ability to research thoroughly — to take a lot of complicated qualitative and quantitative data and bring it together into a cohesive narrative — is the most valuable thing I learned.  

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