Rising tuition fees and employers’ expectations for experience when applying for entry-level jobs led me away from university and towards an advanced apprenticeship. I worked four days a week as a Marketing Assistant at a local college writing blogs, arranging events and updating the website, while learning marketing from the bottom up. One day a week was reserved for studies and meetings with my mentor.
Turning a passion for responsible travel into a career
After completing my course I wanted to spread my wings before climbing on the career ladder, so I took part in a three-month voluntary placement in Ethiopia. This was a truly immersive experience; I lived with a host family who didn’t speak much English and earned an Ethiopian wage (equivalent to £15 a fortnight). During the day I taught English, art and drama lessons to girls in an orphanage and I also taught daily braille lessons with a blind child called Lantu. This experience ignited my love of travel, and after returning home I spent the following year exploring Europe in-between working at a publishers.
I then got my first marketing role in the travel industry at a company that wasn’t using social media at all. I saw this as a massive business opportunity for them, and so I built and grew their social media presence for two divisions within the company and soon became known as a social media specialist. With my new wealth of experience, I decided to move to one of the best companies in the industry: Audley Travel.
Again when I joined Audley, social media was a new prospect to the business, which really gave me the freedom to manage my own time and create a role that would benefit the company. A common misconception about social media is that it’s all about follower numbers, which really isn’t true. For us, it’s about creating engaged communities with relevant individuals to share their love of travel while learning about new destinations.
The role of Social Media Executive
What sets Audley apart is the expertise of our specialists. Not many companies can say that all their specialists travel extensively, but we can. We collectively went on 247 research trips last year alone. A big part of my job is giving specialists the skills and equipment to capture their travel experiences so that we can share them on social media. I also build relationships with influencers, create and curate content in the form of images, videos and blogs and plan creative campaigns. As we grow, customer service is becoming more and more a part of my job as potential clients are increasingly using social media to ask questions or, very occasionally, to complain. I also co-ordinate our outreach content — the blogs we host on third-party websites. Recently I’ve started writing some of these features too, which adds variety to my role.
Why I love Audley
Last year, Audley created its first fundraising team, which I leapt at the chance to be a part of. We were targeted with raising £50,000 for WE Charity to rebuild a health facility in Kalthana, India. Through many creative efforts and the support of our Social Committee we’ve raised £30,000 so far. In November last year I was sent out to Kalthana to see the progress on the health facility which involved spending time with the local people to see how it will impact their lives. Since my placement in Ethiopia, I’ve always wanted to get more involved in international development and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to do this alongside my job. This trip was also one of my best travel experiences — I completely fell in love with India and can’t wait to go back.
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