Name: Alexandra Reay
Job title: Marketing executive
Company & location: Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn, London
Education: University of Birmingham, BA Modern Languages
Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I’ve pretty much been a foodie since birth. I got a job in a kitchen when I was 13 and spent a lot of time with the chefs and replicated the dishes at home. Cooking has always just been a hobby and a way to switch off. It wasn’t until my final year that I decided to set up a blog and Instagram account to share my recipes. Suddenly I was immersed in this amazing world of social media and I picked it all up pretty quickly. When I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do. What were my passions? Food and social media? Pretty standard for a millennial nowadays! I decided to make a career out of those passions, and that is what has lead me to where I am now.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): As a marketing executive, my job is really varied. I deal with all things from consumer and trade events to social media, copywriting, design, samplings, collaborations and a little bit of website development.
What does a typical day look like for you? The great thing about my job is that every day is different, and I can genuinely say I’ve never felt bored. Some days I will be writing copy for the next newsletter or developing the following month’s social media plan. Other days involve planning events and in-store activations, shooting some content, working with influencers and supporting Joe & Seph’s around the UK!
“It’s amazing to be able to stand back from your job and say ‘I did that’”
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. The application process for Joe & Seph’s was actually so much fun! I submitted my CV and a cover letter and was contacted by the head of marketing who asked me to come in for an informal interview with her. We had a general chit-chat about the role and myself in general. Then for the second round I had to create a three-month social media calendar for Joe & Seph’s. That was my chance to get creative, do something different and stand out from the crowd. I actually spent a day shooting and editing some content, then created a 3D phone that you could use to scroll through all the images I’d created with captions etc. It was loads of fun and is still in the office today!
What’s the best part about working for a food company? Firstly, I get to eat Joe & Seph’s popcorn everyday, which is obviously a massive bonus. Joseph is always coming into the office and asking for our opinion on a new flavour he’s working on. Secondly, I love the fact that I have a say, and that people genuinely value my opinion. It’s amazing to be able to stand back from your job and say ‘I did that’, and know that you did it 100% yourself. It’s also great to have such an amazing manager behind me who has backed me every step of the way and continuously inspires me to do better.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? I think for outsiders looking in, it can seem like it’s all fun and games. Whilst at times it really is, behind the scenes it’s so much more than that. People tend to forget that behind a product on the shelf, there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it. Working in the food & drink industry requires a lot of hard work and determination. You also can’t be scared to make mistakes, because that is how you learn the most.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? I would definitely say go for it, but I would make sure that the brand you want to work for is the one for you, and has the same values as you. Everyone in the food and drink industry is always happy to help and have a chat about how they’ve got to where they are. LinkedIn is a great tool for this. Connect with people who work at brands where you want to be, go for a coffee with them and learn about what they do. Then when it comes to applying for a role, use that knowledge to your advantage. I’d also say do something to stand out in your interview. Be the candidate they won’t forget.
What’s your ultimate career dream? That’s a good question for a 23-year-old! I would love to either own my own brand one day, or own a little café/delicatessen that stocks only independent brands (and the best sourdough and coffee around, obviously).