The 23-year-old, from Aberdeen, is now celebrating as he graduated with a BA (Hons) in Public Relations from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) School of Creative and Cultural Business.
Speaking of his education journey from school to college and on to University, he said it hasn’t always been easy and he didn’t particularly enjoy school but following his dreams and finding his creative spark has now seen him gain a degree.
He said: “When I had left school, I left with National 4’s in every subject that I did. I didn’t really enjoy my time at school and tend to put that chapter behind me. What kept me going however through the storm of disliking my secondary school experience was the teachers that I had come across during my time there. The ones who had time for me, the ones who listened, the ones who helped me through my struggles always stick with me. I feel that school isn’t for everyone and sometimes you need that inspirational person, place or experience to give you that kick up the backside to tell you that ‘you CAN’ when you’ve been so used to people telling you that ‘you can’t’.
“At that point, my career prospects weren’t really bright, I was forever in a bit of rut of what I really wanted to do while everyone else was getting apprenticeships or going straight into University. My interests at that time were Music, Radio, TV and Club Culture. At the time I wanted to work for the BBC. Me quite naive at the time though I’d be able to leave school and just walk into a job. Having spoken to a number of teachers about it at school they all told me the same thing – that if you want to work for the BBC you’ll need to get a degree. Of course, there’s that debate that comes up from time to time that not everyone who works in business or organisations like this have a degree, but personally felt that it would benefit me massively given where I was starting from.”
Mark embarked on a media-based course with SHMU, a charitable organisation in Aberdeen, and said it was during that time that he was really able to focus, become more creative and gain some hands on experience creating short films, contributing to radio programmes and learning what it was like to broadcast live radio.
He said this experience led to him applying to NESCOL: “I applied to do an NC in Creative Media and I was selected because of the experience I gained on the SHMU course. While the move from school to college was beneficial for me, it did come with a number of challenges. Being in a new environment, meeting new people and being quite a shy and introverted person made me feel incredibly anxious to start with, however through the four years that I would then spend there my attitude, my work ethic, my confidence, and quality of work only improved.
“I left college in 2019 with a HND in Media and Communications after my NC, I then embarked on my HNC in Media Analysis and Production then doing a 2+2 degree link for my HND in Media and Communications. In addition to the four years that I had spent there and having graduated with my HND in Media and Communications, not only being given 2 A grades for my creative projects, I was also awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) College Award 2019.
"Studying at RGU for me, personally, has really made me realise that I can do anything that I want to achieve. While I have faced many challenges through school, college, and sitting my fourth year of University through the COVID-19 pandemic, being isolated from the usual class environment only made me work extremely harder. I feel that I owe RGU a lot given how they were able to accommodate for me to study on campus during the pandemic.
“Moving on from my Honours degree and after graduating in July, I will then take up my place in my MSc in Digital Marketing in September 2021. While I know there will be challenges ahead, I know I’ll be ok. That simply is part of the journey, it’s not designed to be easy, it’s designed to test you and your capabilities. I’d also like to take a moment to thank all of the lecturing staff who have helped me get through to this point, and I’m excited to meet and work with the next lot in September.”
Mark said his dream job is to work within Public Relations in the music industry in London which is something he is hugely interested in and completed his dissertation on.
He concluded: “The key advice that I would give anyone is choose something you will be interested in - if you don’t you are more likely to brush it to the side and panic last minute. While my time at RGU isn’t over just yet, my overall experience so far is that it’s been an incredible part of my life that I definitely don’t regret doing, I feel that the lecturers and the coursework relates to what I’d like to do within the industry and has especially increased my writing capabilities.
“School sometimes isn’t for everyone. Your creative spark IS out there. You just need to find it. My MSc will mark my final year here at RGU but it’s far as I want to go in academia and I am excited to see how my career will unfold once I have finished it.
If I had any final advice to give anyone I’d say this: Don’t be afraid to take risks, ask questions even if they are stupid, and work hard but also make sure you enjoy your time at University as it really is the most rewarding thing that you’ll ever do!”