Anna Hafsteinsson

I’m an avid tea drinker, so the kettle goes on as soon as I get into the office. Most days, I work closely with our designer in London to produce artwork for digital marketing campaigns, print advertising and posters for in-hostel events. I manage the production of our video content so I’ll spend time with our video team on creative concepts, storyboards and editing. Sometimes I’ll spend a few days in London or Amsterdam to manage a photoshoot or video shoot. Other than that I’m usually found beavering away on written content, which could be anything from city guides for our website / social media through to press releases.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
The three essential skills are, strong communication skills, a curious mind and last but not least, a creative approach to problem solving!

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
Post-university, I didn’t really have a clear idea about what I wanted to do, so I talked to people in various industries to try and get a feel for what might suit me. I got my foot in the door at WPP, the parent company for lots of different marketing and advertising agencies. I then moved to Ogilvy & Mather, a well-known advertising agency. The big company thing wasn’t really for me so I left London to do a ski season (the only sensible option!). Since then, I’ve really found my niche working in-house for a smaller company (as opposed to the agency- side).

What do you love most about working in your career area?
I really love that there’s room for creativity in my role. We’re a small team and every piece of content that we put out as a brand, is the result of an idea that we’ve come up with. We’re working on a video project at the moment which is a kind of ‘Humans of New York’ but for travellers who stay at our hostels. It’s satisfying to see things like that come to life.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
Not too many really! For me, it’s probably the fact that as part of a marketing team, you are mainly sitting at a desk for most of the day. In an ideal world, I’d be able to move around and work from different places. I think that a change of scenery can do wonders for your concentration levels and that vital creative spark! There are, of course, companies who offer that flexibility – and freelancing is also an option in this sphere of work.

What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
I studied English and Scottish Literature with courses in creative writing at university. This gave me a good grounding in written communication which is useful for any job but particularly useful for my role. I’m just about to start my CIM ‘Certificate in Professional Marketing’ course which is a recognised industry qualification for marketers in the early stages of their marketing
career. Having been in the industry for a few years now, I feel more grounded and able to define marketing concepts and strategies.

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
After university, I had a very narrow view of the job market. Without experience, it seemed that the only route for getting into the world of marketing / advertising (or most jobs for that matter!) was to apply to graduate schemes at big companies. I’d suggest keeping an open mind and exploring the less obvious choices. Every business, no matter how big or small, needs to market itself. Identify your interests – be it food, travel, the arts or whatever else – and get chatting to people in those industries and see where that takes you.

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