Transitioning from the security of University to the reality of working life can be a stressful time for many. After studying Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol in the UK, I made the decision to take a post-university gap year. Whilst I aimed to do as much travelling as possible, I equally decided to take this opportunity to properly consider career choices and try out a couple of options in which the industry seemed particularly appealing.
Like many, when I graduated from University I did not yet know what I wanted to do. Despite this, I decided I should at least put my degree learnings to good use and headed to Indonesia for two months to carry out a Mental Health Placement.
Spending the week working, the weekends gave me time to travel and relax. I started to enjoy reading around Behavioural Economics, how it connects with Psychology and its real-world applications. I came to realise that a career grounded in the Behavioural Sciences, revolving around how and why we make decisions would not only be stimulating, but well-suited to my interests and research experience gained from my degree. Whilst looking into this possibility I stumbled across the term consumer insights and found myself extremely interested.
A career in market research was never something I had previously considered
The next stop on my travels was to head Down Under for around 3 months, but my aim became to incorporate this with gaining some experience in my newly discovered interest - ‘consumer insights’. Thanks to the wonder that is Google, I found The Leading Edge. A career in market research was never something I had previously considered. Admittedly, like many, my preconceptions about market research were limited to the idea of being stood on the street with a clipboard in order to collect data, but, eager to find out more, I got in touch to discuss doing some work experience, and was offered the chance to do so in both their offices.
In total I have spent a month with The Leading Edge - two weeks in London, and two in Sydney - seeing the reality of what working in market research and consumer insights actually is and how findings have a strategic impact. I attended training days in research practices and methodologies - such as using on-line communities. I assisted with projects (including heading into people’s homes to assist on a qualitative research project to find out about people’s pets), and I’ve learnt some interesting facts about other cultures, for instance only 15% of retirees in China receive a pension and only 1% of Indians travel overseas annually.
Learning about what The Leading Edge do made me reconsider what I believed market research to be
Learning about what The Leading Edge do made me reconsider what I believed market research to be. Previously it seemed dry and slightly monotonous, but it’s something much more related to human behaviour in a context that is ever changing and ethnographically varied. My experiences in both the London and Sydney offices have been extremely true to this description. I massively appreciated the opportunity to help with and observe a range of projects across various markets. I would encourage other postgraduates, undergraduates and young people not to be put off by the idea of a career in research based on common misperceptions about the industry. Having spent a month working with The Leading Edge, I found the experience to be intellectually stimulating, culturally centred and incredibly diverse.