After falling in love with the Scottish capital while on holiday, and with an interest in marketing, Jeremy Kunz decided to study Public Relations and Marketing Communications at Queen Margaret University. Following his positive experience on the undergraduate course he decided that the MSc International Marketing was just the right move for his career aspirations. Now a Key Account Executive at TikTok, Jeremy tells us all about his experience at QMU and where his degrees have taken him.

Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to your undergraduate course?

My cousin had studied in Edinburgh before me and I went to visit her a couple of times; this made me fall in love with the city. When it came time for me to go to University I really wanted to get into Marketing or PR. The course in Public Relations and Marketing Communications really fulfilled every capacity that I was interested in.

"The modern campus also seemed very appealing! In the end I had multiple offers from different Universities in the UK but chose Scotland due to my positive experiences there."

What did you enjoy most about your undergraduate course?

The course was very diverse and really covered a lot of width in terms of the topics. PR and Marketing are so closely linked due to it all (mostly) being tied to outbound emission of information that is meant to enact a specific result. I was always fascinated with communication, but I would lie if I said I did not enjoy the marketing section of the course a lot. Both Chris Preston and Mike Pretious were excellent lecturers and really focused on discussing and showcasing current topics. Most of the coursework was also applied work with specific case studies that really challenged the students to think like a marketing practitioner.

Were there any course activities you found especially interesting?

One of my favourite pieces of coursework was the case study of the Musselburgh Racecourse. We got a day at the races and had to draft a proposal for the racecourse on how to improve their marketing. This was honestly one of the most fun, but also challenging pieces of coursework that I conducted in my undergraduate. Being able to go there in person, gather information, speak to people and take it in from an attendee’s point of view was fantastic. This really allowed us to come up with a foundational proposal. All these proposals were compiled and then actually delivered to the racecourse. This made the work feel special! We were basically consultants working for a client.

Why did you choose to stay at QMU and pursue and postgraduate course?

Due to my great experience with the Marketing section of my undergrad, I was very excited when the newly created MSc International Marketing postgraduate course was suggested to me. I honestly never thought that I would achieve this level of academic degree, but in light of what I wanted to achieve in my future I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to really make myself an interesting commodity to a future employer. This could really differentiate my CV from others, having really honed in on my marketing knowledge over four years.

How did your postgraduate course supplement your undergraduate degree?

The postgraduate degree really created more depth. Compared to the undergraduate degree, the course went a lot deeper and even more focused on current developments. This was really targeted at preparing us for the job market but also sharpening our skills. We did not just dive into more theoretical depth but also applied our knowledge leveraging tools that are commonly used in the marketing profession (Canva, CMS, etc.)

How did the teaching staff support you?

The teaching staff really supported us in knowledge sharing. Due to the smaller groups compared to the undergraduate degree, there was a lot more time for open conversation and fostering that conversation and expression of opinion and knowledge. Giving us students this forum to test our assumptions and debate topics deeply was something I really appreciated. Sometimes University can feel like you are expected to adhere to certain frameworks and think of things as black and white. Marketing really is so far from black and white, therefore having these open discussions and the ability to express opinions and thoughts openly really helped me extend my horizon.

What challenges did you face with the courses and/or university life? How did you overcome them?

My time at university really correlated with personal growth and focusing on my future. I came into my first year looking to really enjoy my university life and make the most of my time. I was not the best student whatsoever and never really received any high marks. The older I got the more I noticed why I was there and what my goals were, this helped me frame the point of being at university more efficiently. I invested more time into my education and coursework.

"The teaching staff challenged me to be better than I was. They communicated that they knew I could do a lot better than I was doing. That allowed me to improve my grades marginally, finally graduating with a distinction and merit for my undergraduate and postgraduate."

I could not have achieved any of these achievements without the support of my girlfriend who I met during my time at QMU, she really helped me motivate myself to be better and succeed. Her dedication to her course really inspired me to do more and better.

Did you take part in a placement as part of your courses and if so, can you tell me a little about that experience?

As part of my Master thesis, I chose the project rather than a theoretical thesis. In this project I was able to work with my local Basketball team in Frankfurt Germany, the Fraport Skyliners. I supported them as a Marketing Consultant to improve their visitor experience at games to improve customer retention in the long run! It was a fantastic experience to be able to work with an entity I knew and followed. Having reached out to them myself and won the project myself really gave me a lot of confidence for my future work. If it had not been for covid I would have also received a job offer from them post-graduation!

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in these courses?

The course both were excellent. I was always someone who was stronger in communication rather than aspects like Math or Science. These courses really helped me develop my strengths further and helped prepare me well for future work in the industry.

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

My top tip is to balance fun and education (as best as possible). University life should not only be about your future and working towards that, even though that is in the end the major goal in going .Enjoying your time, meeting new people from all kinds of international countries and places all across the globe is really inspirational.

"Having fun and enjoying the fantastic city of Edinburgh has to be part of that experience. Just make sure you can balance your time spent on fun with just as much work for your future. That way you will leave University fulfilled by achievements and experiences gained."

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned at university?

Theory is great but applied knowledge is what really makes a difference. The ability to apply knowledge and speak about it concisely is what really makes a difference in the future. To be able to take a theory, apply it to a case and then present that case in front of stakeholders is something that is absolutely imperative to professional life.

Did you win any awards/scholarship/internships that helped you develop skills and experience?

I won an short project internship via Joe Goldblatt to support Biz East Lothian and their DigiCon Project. For this case me and a fellow student supported the marketing team at Biz East Lothian to film, interview and promote the Visit Scotland initiative showcasing great small businesses tied to experiential aspects in East Lothian. This was one of the first times I functioned as an interviewer, asking poignant questions and performing. Both are skills that are used on a daily basis in my professional life. This project was my first touchpoint with these skillsets in a professional environment.

Can you tell us about your life post-graduation?

My professional life post-graduation started in the midst of the covid pandemic. This was a troublesome time to get into a graduate position. Unfortunately, marketing was one of the industries hit very hard by the pandemic due to a lot of cost cutting happening on that side. I ended up starting my career at a global recruitment and consulting company, Allegis Group. I started here as a recruiter and was promoted to a sales consultant position within 10 months of me being in the company. 

"I was able to work with some of the top enterprise companies in Germany such as Deutsche Bank, Indeed, eBay, Klarna and many others and support them on their hiring initiatives. Sales and marketing are two divisions of most companies that have to work extremely closely with each other in order to foster success. After about a year and a half at Allegis Group I was approached by a hiring manager of one of the top tech companies in Dublin, Ireland. I decided to take on a couple of interviews for some of the biggest players in the tech Industry and ended up taking a job as a Key Account Executive at TikTok."

At TikTok I consult some of the largest entities in the DACH market, helping them achieve their marketing goals, leveraging the marketing solutions that TikTok offers. My knowledge from both my undergraduate and postgraduate allows me to consult not only on a product specific level but also thinking conceptually about total strategies. This knowledge and my knowledge gathered in the rest of my professional life allowed me to work successfully with several big brand names.

Anything else you’d like to share about life at QMU or as a graduate?

One of my favourite moments was when Mike Pretious reached out to me in August of 2022 proposing that I come in to give the students of the course some insights into TikTok and developments in the digital marketing field. I always told myself that I would come in at some point in my professional career and speak to the students and professionals of the future, having once sat in their own seat. I did not expect this opportunity to come 2 years after my graduation and handing in of my thesis. It was a pleasure to come in and see what has changed and to see how the course has evolved.