In this guest blog, second year Gateshead College student Jack Holmes highlights how the college inspired him to set up his own business. Not only does his story reflect an insightful journey from student to entrepreneur, but it also highlights the importance for academic institutions to incorporate enterprise into their systems.
My name is Jack Holmes and I am a second year student at Gateshead College. I joined last year to study business management. I am writing this to talk about how it has made me a better person. Since a very young age, I have loved music and socialising with my friends. During my time at Gateshead College I have been offered opportunities to make me employment ready and stand out from the crowd.
Whilst on my business course my teachers have mentored, taught and given me the inspiration to start my own business. Without the lessons and skills taught in course projects, I would not have come close to where I am now.
Our first unit at Gateshead College was ’enterprise’ and my teachers taught us how to create a business from just an idea and a business model. My idea was to create a pop up vinyl record shop where I could sell records and music memorabilia. With the constant support of the college, I turned this concept into a working business and created my business, Spinning Superiority, which has grown into something I am massively proud of. I now float on 2-3 events per month in locations like: Topshop, Arch Sixteen, Tyne Bank Brewery, Staiths Café and many more. My pop up store stocks 500 records at events and generates around an average of 20 returning guests. I wanted to create a business which shows my love for music and socialising and help people get all of their vinyl needs. College brought this to life in the dynamic lessons taught.
Networking is very important and beneficial for personal growth and my teachers believe it is important from a young age that we know this. Our teachers put on fantastic workshops teaching us about how to connect and stand out from the crowd. In the workshops we built LinkedIn profiles and were introduced to passionate connections who I have learnt from. Alongside this I and a few other students were invited to help run The Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Together We Can Take On The World event and this helped my confidence in event management and co-operation skills. Other events we attended with the college which helped me prosper were Founders Friday and Southside. Some connections I have made thanks to Gateshead College are Kerry McCabe and Andy Stephenson who have helped me grow my business in new ways and I met them at the business speed dating event ran by my teachers Vicky, Lisa and Shelley. This event gave all students the chance to learn from multiple employers.
In the first year of my course, staff from Topshop at intuMetrocentre visited our class to present a brief for a virtual industry inspired project. After the presentations, the strongest concept would get the chance to present these ideas to the head office in London. I was lucky to get that opportunity and the HQ loved our ideas and described me as a ‘creative, professional and an inspiring self-motivated young individual.’ Gateshead College giving me this opportunity allowed me to push myself to the limit and it’s an experience which I will take through life with me.
Gateshead College believe that all courses should bring employment edge and my time on the business course most definitely gave me that. For the course, each student must complete work experience and the opportunities offered helps everyone put the class work into use. My first work placement was as a marketing intern at Clear and Loud. They are a PA hire company who supply multiple events around the North East. Within my placement I used my classroom work on placement and gathered triangulated data for the business. Elliott Clarke, the owner commented on me saying I was, ‘a smart and driven young man’. He worked with us and helped us achieve a marketing plan, from research, analysis and lead generation through to strategy and planning for my team to enact.
My second, and current work placement is social media manager of Lindon Entertainment. They are a recording studio and upcoming record label in Newcastle. Chris Lindon, the owner, has worked with me to build an online presence for his studio and using everything digital I have learnt from my course, I have been able to scale the business up digitally.