Why I decided to self-fund a CIM qualification during the pandemic

Why I decided to self-fund a CIM qualification during the pandemic

Marketing is a profession open to a wide range of talents, but how do you get started? In this article, CIM student Laura Scott explains why she decided to self-fund her learning at the height of the pandemic.

In April 2020, I was let go from my temporary admin job due to the pandemic. I had made the decision after a few years of serious illness, surgeries, and recovery to go back into working in TV production, something I had previously worked in back in 2013. However, as the first lockdown continued, this looked less likely to be an option and I had to have a re-think.

I’d started blogging back in 2013 and enjoyed using skills from my Film Production degree, and recognised the link with marketing when setting up a self-hosted website and learning about SEO. This was what made me look into marketing as a possible career change and I was excited to see that the profession stretches into every nook and cranny of business. In fact, it involved a lot of the skills I enjoyed using, such as creativity, problem solving, people management, media, and technology.

Having previously worked in sales, I wasn’t a big fan of the hard sell approach. But marketing appealed to me because it was about solving a problem for a customer, looking for something to fill their needs and gain their long-term advocacy.

Signing up with CIM

Gaining a marketing qualification was the next step; not only to add to my CV for when the job market opened up again, but also to fill the gaps in my learning. Everyone starts out as an amateur and I’m a big believer in that it’s important to always be learning. 

On LinkedIn I noticed a previous colleague had moved into digital marketing and I naturally asked for their advice, as I wanted to do a qualification with The Chartered Institute of Marketing but wasn’t completely confident my ability was at that level. Their advice was to complete a free Google Digital Garage course in Digital Marketing, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I knew.

The confidence boost convinced me that self-funding the qualification with CIM was right for me. I thought, ‘Who better to learn marketing from than The Chartered Institute of Marketing?’ I had some money saved for a solo trip and decided instead to invest it in myself by embarking on a Foundation Certificate in Professional Marketing.

How did the virtual course work?

Spoiler alert! I really enjoyed the remote course setup. Not only was it necessary, due to the need for social distancing, but it was also more convenient. Everything I needed to get started was in my emails, on my MyCIM account or accessible via an app on my phone.

The classes may have been virtual, but the interaction with the tutors, the CIM team, and classmates meant that I didn’t feel alone. We introduced ourselves in the first virtual classroom and, whilst some worked in marketing already and wanted to improve their skills, others were also looking to change careers like me.

We communicated through virtual classes and an online forum, which I can attest to being invaluable. If anyone had a question or issue, everyone would be able to see it and provide help. This was not only helpful for the questions I did have, but for the questions I didn’t know I had. You can also ask questions to the tutor privately, if that’s what you prefer.

The qualification I undertook was made up of two modules, the first of which was working towards completing an online exam. We did this with the help of reading lists, tutorials, and activities to complete on the app and virtual classes. I attended my first class while on a trip away to Chester, using the Zoom app on my phone and taking notes and screenshots. As I said, incredibly convenient.

I booked the online exam and when the day arrived, completed it on my laptop at home. The great thing was that it immediately tells you if you’ve passed or not. All I had to do was wait for the final grade to be updated. And to my great surprise, I was awarded a distinction, which was something I hadn’t expected but was thrilled to see in print! It’s nice when you can surprise yourself.

Then, as luck should have it, I managed to get a job that started the day after my exam. Of course, I was excited, but I also knew that I would have to manage my time differently now that I was working from home.

The second module culminated in a written assignment, using the same tools provided as the first module. If it had all been a bit of a culture shock before, now it was almost second nature to add tabs to pages in the textbooks and bookmark relevant web pages.

Managing a full-time workload along with studying meant that sometimes it was challenging to feel happy with what I produced. To help, I allocated time on certain days of the week to complete certain tasks, by setting a timer on my phone to complete as much as possible within that timeframe, whether it be an hour or two hours, or whatever I felt I could manage.

I was so pleased when I pressed ‘submit’ on my final assignment and as if I needed a reminder of my achievement, the certificate for my first module arrived through the door. I felt so proud of myself. Whatever the final grade, I’d managed to complete a qualification in something I had never formally learned before, while working full time, during a pandemic, and after working hard on my physical and cognitive recovery after a bout of illnesses.

What happened next?

I am definitely a different person from when I first started studying. My CIM qualification not only provided me with knowledge I didn’t have before, but a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence in my abilities. I hadn’t ever realised that I’d been implementing marketing skills naturally in my previous jobs and I’m now seeing the internet and social media with different eyes.

I’ve become that person who listens to marketing podcasts and follows marketing Instagram accounts. The other day, I understood a marketing joke on LinkedIn that I don’t think I’d have understood before! All this confirmed that I’d made the right decision; marketing is the right path for me.

Completing the qualification during lockdown has given me more ideas and a whole new set of ambitions, and I’m excited to see where a career in marketing will take me.


Want to follow in Laura’s footsteps and become a fully qualified marketer? Our full range of qualifications has something to suit everyone, regardless of experience or knowledge. Find your perfect fit today.  

Laura Scott Marcomms Officer Vista
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