Ciara studied the MSc International Fashion Marketing course here at GCU London and was successful in applying for the Marks and Spencer’s Scholarship which funded her studies. Here she talks about her experiences in studying at GCU London and also the process of applying for the M&S scholarship.
Before coming to GCU London I had been teaching kindergarten to children in Abu Dhabi for 12 months. It was really useful to get this international experience and meet lots of people in the fashion world, especially as Dubai has the biggest malls in the world.
I had already done a general commerce degree and have a marketing background. When I as working in the Middle East, I was in contact with retailers and big shopping malls. I came across GCU London and started looking at the campus and was attracted by how great it looked. Through further research, I found out about the M&S scholarship.
I did it all online as I was in the Middle East at the time. There were 3 essay style questions. One focused on information about myself, my interests, what I've done so far and why I felt I deserved to receive a scholarship. Another was about how the scholarship would help me financially. The third was making a short, creative video clip of my choice. The aim of this was so they could see my face. I recorded myself in front of my phone with a big open fire in the background as M&S is homely. That was it! I received an email a few weeks later confirming the Scholarship would cover all the tuition fees.
It’s been really good – better than I had imagined. Having the M&S name behind you opens doors. I've met Belinda Earl, M&S creative director, and a few of the top marketing managers.
I did an internship in May with their branding and marketing department. I had a lot of input from the buying department and met different people from across the company which helped me to understand how it works. I was able to see how the international marketing teams worked and what their job roles included.
I am in the middle of discussing my dissertation area. In head office I was given a brief to work up a campaign for capsule collection. Its main element could be the area of my dissertation as I can base my dissertation on live projects, which could lead to potential employment.
The course has been really good so far. The highlights have been fashion branding and marketing.
I set up a ladies fashion brand for the over 45’s market, using digital photography and Photoshop. I created a logo and advertising to go with it and wrote a 100 page report to go alongside it. I got 85% for my project which was probably the highlight and was a good thing to talk about in interviews. I studied consumer behaviour, created a diary of buying habits over 6 weeks and then wrote an essay about my own consumer behaviour. Self-gifting was one of my theories. I did really well in the essay.
The Digital Fashion Branding teaching methods were mainly seminar and group based. We had talks about how to apply theories to brands. We had lots of feedback from teachers. There were also a lot of presentations which provide a good insight in to the business world.
Being in Shoreditch, you see a lot of inspiration around you. In between the fashion and corporate world outside Spitalfields Market there are lots of cute stores. It's a very vibrant area. In February, I was invited to go to London Fashion week. I was able to meet the CEO of M&S and other well-known figures in industry, such as Anna editor of American Vogue, who came in to do a talk. In other cities you may not get those connections.
There is a very big mix of cultures and nationalities: Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, American, German and many others. For consumer behaviour this is great as they talk about how theories linked to retail selling differ in other countries.
I am definitely going to look into advertising fashion, designing campaigns and publications, more so than retail. This clarity is good as marketing is such a big area. I am also currently working part time, which could provide me with further options.