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Rachel is no stranger to NMIT. Before she began the Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing and Management), Rachel was enrolled in NMIT’s nursing programme training to be a nurse and caregiver. All of that got put on hold after Rachel was diagnosed with lymphoma - a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.
During treatment, which spanned six months, Rachel started volunteering at the Red Cross Shop in Richmond. This sparked an interest in retail which led to a part time job at Eyebright Country Store. Here, Rachel was able to earn a little money and develop her skills in retail.
After her chemotherapy treatment, Rachel went into remission and was able to accept an offer of full time employment with Eyebright helping the team with front of house retail services and also a little event management. She also built their website and helped manage their online presence.
“That led to me thinking ‘I kinda wanna do this for a living...let’s go and talk about doing some event management stuff.’” So she went into NMIT and spoke with Rae Perkins at the business school who encouraged Rachel to sign up for the diploma initially. She enjoyed her marketing paper so much she enrolled for the degree.
Three years later, Rachel is now working at iconic Nelson business Pic’s Peanut Butter as a marketing coordinator. An average day is spent doing everything from customer relations to graphic design to trade communications and event organisation.
“It’s always changing. I can be sitting at my desk sending emails to customers one day and then another day I could be in Auckland at a food show selling peanut butter and meeting heaps of really cool people.”
The 25-year-old thrives on the more social elements of her role. “I love to sit on my couch with a cup of tea and watch a movie. That’s me in my happy place. But I love talking to people also. Working with people is something that’s really important to me. Marketing is a social role and I think to do it you really need to be confident and bold and, yeah, put yourself out there.”
She also enjoys the forward-thinking dynamic in the office. “We have a different style at Pic’s. We focus a lot on experiential marketing. We do a lot on social media but it’s all about engaging with customers and being present. Talking to our customers and being available. I think that’s going to be very important for businesses going forward.”
When asked what her main passion is, Rachel answered with a resounding ‘peanut butter’. “Everything is super exciting. We’re sponsoring a Makos game in October. We’re throwing a big Pic’s picnic so one of my big focuses is making sure that all comes together and we pull of some really cool stuff for that.”
The journey from nursing student to qualified marketing coordinator could be viewed as a story of hope in action, but for Rachel is was more practical than that.
“I don’t like to put attitude down to when I was sick. I think I’ve always been pretty practical and so when I got sick I just sort of took it in my stride and said ‘this is what I’ve got to do’ and I think I took the same approach with my study. This is what I want to do and this is what I’ve got to do to get there.”
Rachel’s main challenge during her studies was in the final semester. She was juggling five papers alongside her work with Pic’s “but apart from that life went on as usual.”
Over the course of three years, Rachel completed a work placement with the Wild Hearts Wedding Fair and she also spent four months with On-Cue Conferences. But for Rachel, it was a study assignment that led to her role at Pic’s.
The class were at the Elms Street premises to interview Pic’s manager Stuart Macintosh for an assignment. While they were waiting, Pic’s marketing manager Nikki Neate approached the group with a role going on the social media side. “That night, I thought ‘bugger it’. I messaged her on LinkedIn and said I’m really interested in work experience. I hear you’re looking for someone at the moment.”
Nikki sent Rachel a message back the same night suggesting a meet up. “I started my internship in September 2016 and then by December Nikki told me I’d have a job when I graduate. That was really cool. I went through my last semester knowing I had a job to come into when I graduate. And it’s the perfect job. Literally couldn’t have gotten better.”
To anyone wanting to study business or marketing at NMIT, Rachel says: “Nelson is awesome. The tutors are awesome. The opportunities that NMIT give are awesome. I wouldn’t have got this job had I not gone out into the workplace to do a case study on a business for class. The assignments are really hands on. It’s all case studies and things like that. I think that really prepares you for going out into the workplace.”