StrategiQ, Amazon and UEA inspire students at first-ever business conference

11 min read by Charles Craik 23 Feb 2023

Suffolk One Business Speakers Conference

Ipswich-based One Sixth Form College, known locally as Suffolk One, recently held its first ever business speakers conference in an effort to inspire students and give them the opportunity to “network and listen to the employers that they are going to work for in the future”.

As a business which champions learning and development opportunities for the next generation, we were thrilled when we were invited by the event’s organiser, Penny Quintero Hunt, to join the likes of Amazon, UEA, and Larking Gowen in sending a few StrategiQ guest speakers along.

Penny, a teacher of Economics and Business at the college, said that StrategiQ’s presentation was “extremely popular” with the students, as well as being “one of the best rated” out of all of the guest speakers. So, what exactly did we share that went down so well with the students?

Enter: social media marketing.

What we did

We sent our brand masterminds, Elliot Hall and Ash Thrower, to give the One Sixth Form College students an idea of how social media can be used to build a personal brand and grow a business.

As a digital marketing agency, we know all too well that the power of social media cannot be underestimated. With over 60% of the world’s population using some form of social media, and 15-25 year olds making up a staggering portion of overall usage, we knew this was a language all students could speak, and we wanted to shine a light on the ways they could use it to create opportunities within their own careers.

Elliot and Ash gave the students a crash course on using social media for promotion, recruitment and building a brand; prompting them to think about why people use social media and how this line of thinking can be used to understand the core interests and motivations of specific audience types.

The presentation encouraged the Business students to step inside the mind of a marketer and think about how they’d use this audience research to craft relevant, relatable, interest-specific content as a means to attract the right customers and build a brand.

Why we did it

The business speakers conference was made up of 20 sessions delivered by representatives from a range of different industries; from accountancy, to engineering, to e-commerce.

As the only creative business in the lineup, we really wanted to give the students an idea of the variety of roles available and the scope of possibilities within the marketing world; inspiring them to think about what sort of career path they’d like to take and what sort of unique perspectives they could each bring to the table.

We’ve always felt strongly about supporting our roots and providing opportunities for up-and-coming talent, and this wasn’t our first link-up with Suffolk One.

Towards the end of 2022, we invited two of their Business and Marketing students to join us on work experience placements and throw themselves into agency life; offering them real-world, hands-on experience in our busy Suffolk office. We’ve had a long-standing vision to create our very own StrategiQ Academy; offering apprenticeship placements to ambitious young minds and nurturing the next generation of marketing masterminds, and partnering with Suffolk One has been a brilliant way to connect with the local student community ahead of the launch of the Academy later this year.

The feedback – Student-side

So – how did it all go down with the students?

The group were given the opportunity to provide feedback after each session, and it gave us plenty to take on board:

“It was useful and relevant for what career I’d like to pursue after college, and it was good to see how a brand is developed.”

“The presentation showed us how social media plays an important part in a business’ marketing, and the presenter encouraged us to use social media for a specific audience when marketing rather than to just anyone. I can now see why that’s so important.”

“It showed us how people can find a gap in the market through social media and how brands should use it to promote themselves. It was upbeat and had a good flow, and it was really interesting to learn more about social media connection.”

As much as we appreciated the glowing feedback, we were equally as grateful for the ‘room for improvement’ tips, too. We know that the only way to get better at what you do is to keep learning – and that applies whether you’re a student, an apprentice or an expert in your field!

Here’s what the students gave us to work on in future presentations:

“It would have been better if there was something we could ‘do’, like an activity or a small game to get us involved.”

“I’d have liked it if the presentation was a bit longer and it went into how to make a brand the starting point and how to actually get started.”

“I’d like to have learned more about how their business specifically uses social media in the work they do.”

From our side of things, here’s what Elliot, our Brand Strategist, thought of the experience:

“The creative industry is equally exciting and daunting, so when the opportunity arose to welcome and inspire the next generation of designers, marketers and creative thinkers into an energetic and rewarding career, I just couldn’t say no.”

“Our class of students had a clear appetite for learning how they could translate their native understanding of all things social into building a personal brand, creating stories that resonate, building a community and ultimately knowing how to grow a business using the tools at hand.”

“I’m chuffed with the feedback we received from the session and glad they’re leaving inspired and better equipped to take their next steps in the world of marketing.”

The feedback – One Sixth Form College-side

We had a chat with Penny Quintero Hunt to learn more about what inspired her to create the event and how she felt the college’s first business speakers conference went.

“Myself and the other teachers at the college were aware that, for a lot of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve worked in these sort of businesses, and we wanted to give the students a holistic insight into these businesses and give them more of a real-world view of the subjects they’re studying.”

These sessions teach the sort of real-life stories you can’t learn from a textbook, and the benefits are twofold:

  • It provides support for students looking for direction during their studies
  • It enables employers to engage with local students and let them know what’s available in the local world of work

“Listening to Ash and Elliot was really inspiring for the students, and we particularly liked the way they took the conceptual stuff and made it real. The students really connected with the process of digging into the psychology of what clients want to see and how to build a brand around this.”

“For us, we wanted this event to raise awareness of the range of career options available and inspire students to think about what they’d like to do with their futures. StrategiQ’s session painted a picture of just how many job roles there are in the marketing world and what sort of routes are available for those wanting to get into marketing, and we have to extend a huge thank you to Elliot and Ash for their invaluable input into what was a very successful event for us at One.”

To enquire about placing your students on work experience at StrategiQ, contact us here.

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