How I Got My Job: Niamh Donoghue, Founder Of Soundboard

"I've actually had a pretty squiggly career path which I used to worry about a lot, because at school you're told to pick a path and stay on it,"

When you’re in school, it’s super hard to have to decide on your future career. There’s already hours of homework and study and you’ll soon be making decisions about college courses and what to do after school. At KISS we’re chatting to people in different industries about how they’ve landed their dream role, what they actually do, and their advice to you. This week, we’re chatting to Niamh Donoghue, marketer and founder of Soundboard who host online events and workshops surrounding mentorship. 

What is your current role?

I’m the founder of a new business called Soundboard, Soundboard is a platform that exists to get more people active in the practice of seeking out mentorship and the meaningful connections that can help them grow in their career paths. I also run my own Marketing Consultancy where I help brands define their Marketing Strategy.

Can you describe what your general day to day looks like?

My day-to-day has changed pretty dramatically since Covid, I’ve actually gone from working full time as a Marketing Manager at a tech company based out of London, to now running my own business which I really love. I didn’t actually plan it that way but during the summer my cousin and I started running these events where we bring in people, who we think are doing something inspiring and host speed mentoring sessions with them. During the event, we handpick two other people for you to match with based on common interests to bounce ideas and the response was really positive. So I wanted to invest more time in growing this, which is now Soundboard.

In January I quit my full-time job and now spend two days a week working with clients on their Marketing Strategy, and 3 days on Soundboard. I have done it this way because most new businesses don’t make much money to start with so the consultancy work keeps me afloat while Soundboard grows and two days really are never the same!

How did you decide on this type of career?

I’ve actually had a pretty squiggly career path which I used to worry about a lot, because at school you’re told to pick a path and stay on it, and that employers will look down on people who have switched around but the longer I’ve been in the industry (which is almost 10 years now), I can safely say that is not the case, especially if you’re someone who is creative with a lot of interests.

I started out working in fashion, then when I got tired of the unpaid internships and low pay in general, I switched to work in ad agencies which was an amazing experience and are such brilliant places for anyone to start out in. Then, I moved to San Francisco where I ended up getting into the tech industry which sounds boring but I actually loved, and what really helped me lay the right foundation for running my own business.

For me, any of my decisions were driven by what was most important to me at that time of my life, early on I just wanted to learn valuable skills and work somewhere with good people and earn enough money to be able to travel and have fun, whereas now, I am really passionate about working on projects that add value and make some kind of impact in the world, so it’s worth acknowledging that this changes depending on the stage of your career.

What course did you study in college?

I studied Art & Design Foundation for a year in Limavady (and during this time I had to live at home while all my friends were away at college and hated it, but loved the course), then I went on to study Fashion Communications at Heriot-Watt which I loved, such an amazing course where you do photography, graphic design, writing and so on.

Then, a couple of years ago I did Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA in Marketing which I would recommend to anyone who wants to get into Marketing and wants some formal training but doesn’t want to pay for a full MBA or spend a year in college… It’s a bit of an investment but something you could ask your company to pay for if you’re working, or save up for and do down the line, I did it two years ago so is good for all stages!

What advice would you give to a student looking to get into your line of work?

Two big pieces of advice I wish I had is 1: Take the pressure off yourself to have it all figured out, if I could go back in time I would embrace every opportunity as a learning experience versus stressing that I hadn’t “figured it all out” and 2: Make an effort to build genuine connections with people, you never know who you might have to call on 10 years down the line and if people remember you as being a good genuine person, that will stand the test of time!

If you want to find out more, check out Soundboard right here.

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