How I launched a social media agency while studying at UQ
Published 20 Jun, 2023 · 5-minute read
Most of us don’t have a clear picture of what we want to do when we grow up. For Nicole Petzer, this caused a lot of anxiety as she finished high school.
"I kept asking myself, 'who am I meant to be?' and 'what am I supposed to do?'" she says.
Looking at those around her in search of answers, it seemed like everyone else had it all figured out.
What Nicole did know early on was that she craved a life of passion and purpose.
Now in her final year of uni, Nicole has found the career path that brings her joy and aligns her passion with a purpose: social media marketing.
"Looking back, I see how just putting one step in front of the other has opened the door to so many opportunities," she says.
"These opportunities ultimately led to the start of my passion-driven career."
Here’s how Nicole navigated uncertainty to create a fulfilling marketing career and start her own social media agency while studying.
Exploring career opportunities with a Bachelor of Business Management
Nicole enrolled in a Bachelor of Business Management / Bachelor of Commerce at UQ to explore the world of business and different career opportunities she could pursue post-graduation. In her first year of study, Nicole grew more and more passionate about the marketing industry.
She started an e-commerce and wellness business, which was where her passion for building personal brands on social media began. This is when Nicole decided to major in marketing.
"I’ve always enjoyed the creative aspect of the marketing industry," she says.
"I liked the idea of being able to help brands elevate what makes them unique. I knew a marketing major would help me develop the theoretical foundation needed to make it happen."
What I like most about the Bachelor of Business Management is its relevancy to the outside world. I've found the assignments, particularly those related to my marketing major, have real-world applications. They present you with challenges like those you’d face in the industry.
Bachelor of Business Management / Bachelor of Commerce
Practical industry experience: Newish Communications
During one of her business lectures, Nicole heard about Newish Communications, Australia’s first student-run communications agency. Newish provides UQ students with the chance to gain practical experience working on advertising, PR, creative, social media and marketing projects for real industry clients.
Under the guidance of faculty advisers and industry mentors, Newish gives UQ students the opportunity to be in the driver's seat. Students learn how to:
apply strategic thinking to make key decisions
handle project planning and delivery
negotiate with clients and manage client complaints.
They also learn leadership and management skills, positioning them for success in future internships and job opportunities.
"I knew joining Newish would give me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, develop my skills and build my resume," Nicole says.
"What I didn’t realise at the time was how much of an impact it would make on my career as a marketer."
Nicole worked at Newish for nine months developing her social media marketing and copywriting skills.
"Joining Newish truly was a pivotal moment in my career," she says.
"It gave me the opportunity to gain real industry experience, find my creative voice and grow confident in my own abilities."
"I would recommend Newish to anyone considering a career within marketing and communications. It gives you the opportunity to explore your passions in a safe space while pushing you to grow and develop professionally."
Going solo: freelancing and starting a creative side hustle
From her marketing studies and work, Nicole realised the big opportunity social media offered businesses.
"Since then, I’ve worked on many projects, including the brand development and design of an e-commerce pet accessories store, design and copywriting work for a digital product brand targeted at small business owners, as well as many content creation opportunities," she says.
These experiences led to Nicole creating and launching her own social media agency, The Pastel Social. Having this platform allows her to specialise in short-form video creation, social media management, and 1-on-1 strategy and coaching.
"The thing I love most about my work is that I can really help businesses trying to promote their product or service in a crowded market," she says.
"There's truly nothing more rewarding than working on a project from start to finish and seeing a brand’s vision come to life."
"I truly believe that Newish and my studies have given me the confidence and skills to make my business a reality. I’m thankful for all my experiences so far and am excited to pursue this business opportunity on a much larger scale after graduation."
How UQ can help you create a career you love
While she didn't initially know where she wanted her studies to lead, Nicole's time at UQ led to a career she’s passionate about. Now, she’s eager to share advice with those who aren't sure about their own career path.
"UQ’s mix of theoretical and practical coursework helped me develop marketing skills and identify areas I’m passionate about," she says.
"This has helped me enter the workforce with confidence and peace of mind.
"The people I met along the way, including fellow students, tutors, lecturers and mentors, have made a major impact on my life, both personally and professionally. Their guidance is something I will be forever grateful for.
"Being connected to so many young adults who have built their own businesses while studying has truly opened my eyes to the wealth of opportunities out there, particularly in today’s digital world."
Nicole’s tips for creating a career you’re passionate about
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Just put one foot in front of the other and try new things. Each decision you make will give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself. You never know which decision will act as the catalyst for your future.
I found the biggest challenge was trusting I was ready to create an opportunity of my own. When you decide to start your own business, you must learn to trust yourself and keep going.
If you want to start your own business or creative side hustle, surround yourself with a community of people who have done what you’re wanting to do. Choose a few people whose opinions and advice you trust and learn to lean on them when needed.