After an extensive career working in Operations, HR and Administration in India, Somya took a sharp turn when becoming a Masters student at the University of Essex. Having recently completed her position as a Marketing and Communications Frontrunner with the Essex Startups team, Somya reflects on her experiences in the role.

How it started…

Pursuing a Masters degree was not originally part of my long-term career plan. After graduating from my undergraduate studies in 2012, I gained consistent employment with some well-known organisations. However, due to significant changes in my personal life, in 2022 I decided I needed a new focus that would validate my skills and provide me with a sense of purpose. With the support of my family, I decided to embrace the adventure of travelling to the UK to return to full-time study.

I chose the MSc in Human Resources at Essex because the course structure and content reflected my past work experience and will help me to maximise future managerial opportunities.

One of my flatmates mentioned the Frontrunners scheme so I checked out the listings on CareerHub and found the Marketing and Communications position with Essex Startups, which was immediately appealing. I hadn’t heard of Essex Startups prior to applying but, as someone with entrepreneurial aspirations, I felt this would be a good opportunity to learn more about the process of starting a business. I also live very close to the Innovation Centre, so the location was a big plus!

The Frontrunners Scheme is a great initiative, as it offers students the chance to gain vital work experience regardless of background or subject studied. It provides the opportunity to acquire transferable skills and apply them within a real-world setting.

How it went…

Every day that I worked with the team I was prompted to explore different methods of creating content that would be interesting to a range of audiences. I always felt encouraged to contribute my ideas, which boosted my confidence and helped me to approach the role with energy and enthusiasm. I was involved in recording footage for different events and seminars, which pushed me out of my comfort zone being a naturally timid person but something I really enjoyed.

I had many memorable experiences, but I particularly enjoyed attending the Essex Startups networking event, as I was able to get to know the community of student and graduate entrepreneurs and capture their stories by recording a series of testimonials.

Working with the Startups Team allowed me to tap into my personal interests in a professional capacity. Despite studying Human Resources, I have a strong interest in marketing and the use of social media. I was always made to feel like a part of the team, even though I was only in post for ten weeks. I was always included in every meeting, event or activity and made to feel like I held an equal contribution to the team.

Time management is key to me maintaining a work-life balance. My studies are always my utmost priority, so I’m careful to coordinate shifts at work around lectures and meetings with my tutors. Both the Frontrunners and Startups teams were very supportive of timetable clashes when I started taking optional lectures as part of my course which enhanced the positivity of my overall experience.

My proudest achievement was coming up with the podcast project. When I put the suggestion forward to the team, they were very supportive of the idea. I was given the opportunity to create a formal presentation and asked to consider the possible opportunities and challenges such a project could present. I’m very proud of the comprehensive proposal I put together and looking forward to seeing my Essex Startups podcast idea come to life in the future.

The next step…

The experience has allowed me to apply theory learnt in the classroom into practice and develop key skills in relation to marketing and communications. The knowledge I have gained in creating social media content has inspired me to provide promotional support to my sister’s business and will give me the confidence to aid marketing colleagues in future employment settings.

Words of wisdom…

If you’re thinking of applying for a Frontrunner position with Essex Startups, remember to be open minded and be willing to get involved in the team’s activities. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas because the team will give you the support to develop them further. Enjoy the working environment and the experience.

Find out more

If you have a potential business idea, or are interested in developing your business skills, find out more about the training, events and support Essex Startups offers to current students and recent graduates.