Winning this award feels like an end and a beginning at the same time. It is an end in the sense that it marks the final breath of my academic studies. I will never again sit an exam, never again submit an assignment, and never again wait to receive my grades in an envelope.
At least, I hope not. The reason for my hesitancy is that I have been stung by this particular complacency bee before. Walking out of my graduation ceremony in the summer of 2017, I had exactly the same liberating thoughts as expressed above. And yet, along came ICM Unlimited (now Walnut Unlimited ) with the bright idea of entering candidates into the MRS Advanced Certificate. An idea, it is worth pointing out, that they did not share with me prior to my signing of the employment contract.
However, as much as I was internally reluctant to study and revise all over again, I reticently played along, dredging up any enthusiasm I could from the depths of my education-ravaged body. Fortunately, my insincere engagement with the course soon became sincere engagement. I quickly realised that this course has so much to offer. Reading through the wonderful accompanying textbook written by Yvonne McGivern felt less like a burden and more like something that would help me to become a better researcher. There can be no higher praise of a course than this and the Market Research Society (MRS) deserves huge credit for creating a challenging, rigorous, and enduringly-useful qualification.
I also owe a hearty ‘thank you’ to Walnut Unlimited. In particular, I am grateful for the bravery the company continues to show when it comes to hiring graduates for its Academy Scheme. My impression was (and is) that Walnut looks for candidates that will mould the company, not candidates that the company can mould. When searching for the best candidates, the company looks at their personality and potential, not just their qualifications on paper. In that sense, the company heeds the warning implicit in former football manager Howard Wilkinson’s quote: ‘Our squad looks good on paper, but paper teams win paper cups’.
As an alumnus of the Academy Scheme, I would strongly recommend the scheme to all aspiring market researchers. The trust the company shows in you and the responsibility it gives to you means that you swiftly develop as a researcher and feel fulfilled by the work that you do.
Finally, winning this award feels like a beginning in the sense that this is just the start of my development as a researcher. My experience studying for this qualification and my first couple of years at the company have given me a sturdy foundation on which I can build. I have a restless desire to keep improving and I am excited to see where that will take me in the years ahead.