How to start your own society – Jaakko’s Story

25 November 2019

In this blog, BSc Management student Jaakko discusses how his modules taught within his degree supported him in creating Warwick Graphic Design and Marketing Society (GDMS).

There are over 250 societies at Warwick, and as I was looking through all the societies available on campus, I could not spot one which covered marketing and design. This is a subject that I am passionate about, being a BSc Management student at Warwick Business School (WBS). With the Co-Founder, Maria Timofeeva, we thought, why not create a new society?

With the support of fellow students, we founded Warwick Graphic Design and Marketing Society (GDMS). We aim to teach students the skills and knowledge to build their confidence, help them to secure internships and enhance their passion for marketing and graphic design.

Where did the idea of a new society come from?

During my first year studying BSc Management, one of my core modules was marketing focused which sparked my interest almost immediately. I was inspired by the way we were encouraged to research the connection between theory and practice.

I soon realised that there are endless opportunities to pursue your passions at WBS. From entrepreneurship competitions with fellow students to challenges organised by WBS such as the Change our Space competition, there are always ways to develop your skills. In fact, these opportunities have been crucial in preparing me to lead a team in my own society. The continual support from WBS and Maria affirmed the decision to start a new society.

How did you start?

Whilst studying the Business Planning module taught on my degree, I realised that you should always start with the problem when it comes to marketing and developing an idea. I wanted GDMS to be open to all Warwick students, giving them the opportunity to develop their marketing and graphic design skills.

With the Co-Founder, we assembled a dream team of some of the most entrepreneurial students we knew who were all passionate about marketing and graphic design. Because WBS is home to a diverse and engaging cohort of students, we knew we would be in safe hands building this society alongside them. Plus, I had already met every student who is now a GDMS executive during my studies whilst working in the same groups and seminars.

Over the summer, our team were busy teaching themselves everything there is to know about marketing and graphic design so that we would be in a position to teach students what we have learnt. At the same time, we created our member-exclusive Facebook group and developed our website, so we have a platform to educate students. I took the main lead on building the website, as I already had built a website for another student-run society earlier in the year.

GDMS teaches students in many ways including blog posts, guides, social media posts, events and workshops. Perhaps the best thing GDMS members gain is access to the members-only Facebook group, where they can network with other students who are passionate about marketing and graphic design. We also post most of our advanced content exclusively in the Facebook group.

Going forward, we aim to promote our society by producing high-quality educational content and events. This fulfils our purpose to teach students, and at the same time, we establish ourselves as a reputable society. In order to further promote our society, we have started to individually contact the marketing and graphic design executives from other societies on campus who may be interested in learning more about the fields and how GDMS could help them develop their own societies further.

Where is the Graphic Design and Marketing Society (GDMS) now?

We just held our first event, featuring Laura Hampton, the Head of Digital PR at Impression Digital. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing over 70 keen students at an event you organised and since 75% of the attendees were WBS students, I recognised many familiar faces!

Laura’s presentation received amazing feedback and the students mentioned they learned a lot. Especially they noted how the presentation helped them gain a new perspective to the marketing modules they are taking – it was great to see that we were already inspiring students through our events.

What are the next steps for the society?

We want to teach even more students and engage them in workshops and events. Currently, we have 50 members and we aim to double that number by the end of term 1. In the longer term, I personally want to give marketing and graphic design training to every willing society member before I graduate from WBS. Societies are a massive part of student life for undergraduates at Warwick and it would be great to see all societies working together to communicate in the most effective way possible when it comes to their marketing techniques.

What would you say to students who are thinking about starting something new?

Firstly you should consider where your passions lie; your degree at WBS can help you identify that as you continue your studies and take different modules. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it is good to know what options are available in the industry or business sector that you are particularly interested in. The WBS CareersPlus service can give you incredible insights into your chosen industry and give you support and advice on how to reach your career goals.

Once you have found what you are passionate about and which direction you want to take, now is the time to think about what gaps in the market there are to fill. For example, if you are interested in marketing, are there enough opportunities for students to learn about marketing on campus? Can they get practical skills from somewhere?

The next step is finding people around you who share the same beliefs and motivations as you do. At WBS, this is quite easy. Most students are looking to make an impact and shape the environment around them. From the many group projects included in the WBS modules, you may already have a clear idea of who you could approach.

Once you have a vision and a team, all you need is the right support and resources to help you make a change. GDMS would not be where we are right now if it was not for the support from WBS. We have received opportunities to get in front of our audience by organising events and meetings. In addition to this, the WBS professors have been extremely encouraging and willing to offer advice.

When you are starting something new, it means everything to know that you have excellent support right at your fingertips. Whatever your idea might be, I would recommend starting by looking around you at WBS. It may well provide everything you need to create and develop your next big idea.

To find out more about the Graphic Design and Marketing Society (GDMS), check out their website: https://gdmsociety.com.

Jaakko is studying BSc Management, our most flexible courses at Warwick Business School.

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