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Alumni Kizzie Nicholson shares her graduate success story

​​​​Kizzie Nicholson, Founder and Director of Social Fireworks Ltd., has seen her career go from strength to strength since graduating with a degree in Marketing, Advertising & Communications in 2010. 

Having completed a placement at Microsoft, she went on to work in a London-based advertising agency and has since managed the social media for many global brands. Last year she received the county award for Digital Business of the Year 2019.​​

What made you want to study Marketing, Advertising & Communications at the University of Gloucestershire? Is it something you’d always been interested in?

I was completing a foundation art degree in Kent before I decided to come to the University of Gloucestershire. I’d had a realisation in my year studying art; you can be the best artist in the world but if you can’t sell yourself and communicate that, you’ll never get anywhere. I made the big decision to move towards business and I chose this degree at the University of Gloucestershire because it combined the professionalism of business (marketing), the creativity (advertising) and theories (communications). Also, no other university offered this degree at the time. ​

Was the course different to what you were expecting and, if so, how?​

I was shocked how much of the degree allowed me as a student to compose and construct my argument and reasoning in essays, presentations and projects. This wasn’t like school where teachers told you what to do, this was an environment where you were left to learn something. 

Do you have any highlights from your time studying at the University of Gloucestershire?​

All I can remember are the laughs! The laughs in lectures, from students and projects, things going wrong. One highlight would be having an open debate amongst my peers in my third year on a topic – you wouldn’t have thought we’d been studying for 3 years together with how much we were ripping each other apart with facts and arguments. To say we’d blossomed with our own knowledge and confidence would be an understatement. 

Tell us about your placement at Microsoft! How did it help you to find employment after you graduated?

If I could recommend anything, it would be to get work experience. The amount I did not know about being in an office or work environment, despite having been a waitress for 9 years and working in a customer call centre at Endsleigh, was incredible. I didn’t know how to work a fax machine, cloud printer, conference phone, set up meetings on Outlook or even how to manage my time. The deadlines required so that projects and approvals could happen was phenomenal. 
Microsoft taught me one thing; it’s the people that make a work environment, not a name. When I finished university, I was adamant about what work environment I wanted to be in and where. I wanted to work in an advertising agency in London, preferable Zones 2-4 so that I could afford the living and commute. Whilst my peers all jumped into fantastic jobs a few months after university, it took me 10 months after graduating to get what I wanted.  

Are there any skills or experiences that you think current students should be looking to develop during their time at university?

Oh, yes. I’d encourage every student to work in a high pressure face-to-face environment with customers. My experience working as a waitress at TGI Fridays on a Saturday night, when people are hungry, getting fed-up with waiting for food, and you’re dealing with your tables, customers, chefs and manager, certainly made me grow in terms of communication, due diligence, accuracy, confidence and self-esteem. Get experience in an environment where things won’t always go right and you will learn a lot. 
For skills, it would be face-to-face communication, to be able to explain how you feel or a project status, and to ask any questions. Emails do not capture urgency in a voice, the joy of a tone. Face-to-face communication and voice communication win everyday. 

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you! Have you got a routine or is every day different?​

I use Hal Elrod’s ‘Miracle Morning’ a lot, and highly recommend his book. My routine is breakfast, meditation, reading, to the office, meetings, clients and in the evening I go to the gym. On the days I do not have to get up early, I let my body sleep because I get exhausted. 

How did you feel when you found out you’d won Digital Business of the Year 2019?

I nearly fainted when the judge announced Social Fireworks! I was stunned that my 2-year old business had won ‘Digital Business of the Year’ amongst businesses that had been going for 5 to 10 years. Honestly, it is still sinking in. 

Can you give us a sneak-peek of what you’ll be speaking about at the Your Future Plan Festival?

Think I got to where I am with ease? Think again. I’ve fallen more times than I know. I’ve had my confidence and self-esteem shattered, and been bullied a lot. From out of the ashes, rises great strength and I will be talking about breaking into your career or breaking into business, without breaking yourself. I’m going to share what I’ve experienced and how I’ve managed to persist.
Kizzie will be lifting the lid on her career path since graduating and how your attitude can make all the difference to finding success after university on Tuesday 3rd March in BG019​ at Oxstalls, as part of next week’s Your Future Plan Festival. More information about Kizzie’s session and the Festival programme can be found here​.