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Forget textbooks, assignments and exams by Sarah Cowl

Scholar Sarah Cowl considers how the Marketing Academy Scholarship offers a better version of you rather than a qualification

The Marketing Academy Scholarship is like no other learning experience I’ve had before. When I applied I knew it wasn’t a conventional learning experience with a qualification at the end. And after years of school, followed by A Levels and uni, then followed by a postgrad course and professional qualifications it was kind of a relief if I’m honest.

All that had gone before was undoubtedly beneficial, but it was time for something different. I knew that the scholarship involved:

– One to one mentoring with various senior marketers (does what it says on the tin)
– Lunch and Learn sessions (which I think of as group mentoring)
– Faculty Days (training with the likes of Google and The Good Relations Group)
– A series of three leadership Bootcamps (intense mentally rather than physically)
– Sessions with an executive coach (considering who you are, where you’re going and why)
– Providing marketing support to a small charity (to pay back all the free learning)

That said, I wasn’t quite sure what I would ultimately get out of it. Of course I knew I would develop my leadership skills, but now that I’ve been doing the scholarship for six months I’ve realised it offers three main things:

1. First up is a better understanding of your personality, strengths and weaknesses – it’s all about understanding yourself and what you want to achieve, working on your strengths and managing the weaknesses that need to be managed. Strengths energise you and are different to capabilities. You might be capable of doing something, but it doesn’t get the best out of you.  And you don’t need to tackle all of your weaknesses – some things you don’t excel at and somewhat refreshingly that’s okay. You’ll gain more from getting better at what you’re good at than trying to be less bad at something you’re not!

2. And directly linked to having a better understanding of yourself is developing your self-awareness – really considering what you’re thinking and feeling, and why you’re behaving the way you are. Is the approach you’re taking productive and helping you? Or could you think and act in a different, more positive way? Often we act in a certain way without realising it and tend to see things from our perspective, so thinking about what or who triggers our behaviour and why that might be happening can result in us acting differently and hopefully getting better outcomes.

3. As marketers we’re familiar with deconstructing brand values, but probably not so familiar with evaluating our personal values – what’s important to you and why. This is a mix of you as a person and a marketer because the two really can’t be separated. And once you have an idea of what you really value making career and life decisions (and having confidence in them) becomes a whole lot easier. One way to think of it is what takes you out your comfort zone and really gives you a challenge? And in stark contrast what’s something that just isn’t a strength of yours and doesn’t interest you?

It might seem that this is all quite self-centred, but rather ironically you find it’s not really about you. It’s more about how you can be the best version of yourself so you can help others to be the best they can be and you can work together to achieve something you couldn’t do alone. And for me, the great thing is that it’s about how you do this whilst being yourself rather than following a leadership formula.

So if you’re applying for the scholarship this year the best advice I can give is show the judges who you are rather than what you think they are looking for!

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The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

The Fellowship – Equips CMOs and Marketing Directors with the tools, knowledge and insight to make the move onto Boards and into General Management / MD / CEO roles.

12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience