As many people do, I came out of university last year with no money and no discernible life direction. I can’t count the number of times I was asked “So what are you doing next?” and had to sheepishly admit I had no idea. But thankfully, after several months of deliberating back in my parents’ home, I believe I’ve found my ‘calling’ as a Research Executive at MAC Research. Prior to deciding on market research as a career path, I read many an article on what to expect as a researcher and what a day in the life may look like. That said, here are six things I’ve learnt in my first six months as a market researcher.
Speed isn't everything. Throughout my education, I was certainly guilty of prioritising speed over accuracy with some assignments, perhaps as a result of poor time management… but this is the antithesis of market research. Accuracy is priority number 1, 2 and 3, and everything must be meticulously checked as one small mistake can have large ramifications further down the line. However, accuracy with agility is a powerful combination and traits that MAC Research clients recognise and love. And, as I’m repeatedly reminded, in this industry you’re only as good as your last project.
Email etiquette. I thought I knew all there was to know about emails, but I was very wrong. Specifically, the importance of maintaining email threads and clear, concise subject lines. At MAC Research I’m lucky to have colleagues with a great deal of experience working client-side and they explained the sheer volume of emails they’d receive daily, and how frustrating it was looking for an important email that isn’t attached to the relevant thread and has a vague or unrelated subject line. Since taking this advice on board there’s been no more sitting around wondering why no one’s responding to my emails.
How to ask for help. In the past, I’ve been very stubborn about soldiering on by myself long after I should’ve reached out to others for guidance, but this is not an option in market research. Being part of the MAC Research team means constant collaboration. As a company, we use advanced, cutting-edge software to stay ahead of the competition so we’re always learning new features to keep delivering the best service to our clients. While I’m sure it’s been frustrating for my colleagues getting Teams queries from me every five minutes, it’s been part of what’s allowed me to learn and progress so quickly in this role.
The power of LinkedIn. When I joined MAC Research, I had a measly four LinkedIn connections and no photo; it looked terrible, and I was rightly shamed by my colleagues! Fixing this was the first bit of homework I was assigned. I now understand the importance of LinkedIn, not only from a business development perspective, in growing and maintaining relationships with clients and prospective clients, but also for staying up to date with the sectors we work in, and with the marketing and market research industry as a whole.
The art of hybrid working. The hybrid working format that MAC Research operates on (four days from home and one day in person per week) was an appealing aspect of this role for me, having worked from home for much of my time at university due to Covid-19, and found it suited me well. Thankfully, that has also been the case here. Hybrid working has allowed me to control my working environment and not have to commute, meaning I can still get to the gym straight after work and look after my physical and mental wellbeing. I was worried it may inhibit me from forming strong relationships with my colleagues, but this has not been the case. We have regular calls, as well as great in-person contact when in the office, with regular sit-down lunches as a team, sampling the delights of Dorking High Street! Nonetheless, it can be difficult to keep your working life and home life separate when working from home. I’ve found the best ways to do this are to work outside of my room wherever possible (often in the garden!) and getting out of the house straight after finishing the working day, so that I can come back home in a non-work mindset.
How to make a good iced coffee. OK, this may have very little to do with market research, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t fuelled some of my best work! This probably has a lot to do with the time of year I started this role, but iced coffee has become a staple of my daily routine, heatwave or no heatwave, and I think I’ve finally perfected it, if I do say so myself!
This could easily have been a list of 50 things as I’ve learnt so much in the first six months of my working life, but I tried to avoid getting into the nitty gritty of market research of which there is plenty! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in this role so far and I’m very excited for the projects and lessons the future holds.
Dan, 21st July.