Quentin Crowe writes……
It amazes me how little research some candidates do when deciding upon which CIM Accredited Study Centre (ASCs) they choose. All to often candidates embark on CIM qualifications without having thought carefully enough about the investment they are about to make. Here are 5 common mistakes and some top tips to help you avoid them!
TIME COMMITMENT- Many candidates to not think carefully enough about the time they need to invest in the qualification. Typically you will need to invest somewhere between 6 and 10 hours a week over the best part of nine months. This will mean you need to think carefully about where you will find the time – before work, after work, during your commute, giving up a Sunday etc. Find out what works best for you. Ask your CIM study centre if they have a Time Management planner.
LEARNING STYLE – Some candidates are not clear what is their preferred learning style is. Many candidates think that E-Learning is right for them, but then transfer to blended courses so that they can enjoy the interaction of a live classroom. Some like the flexibility of E-Learning whilst others enjoy the discipline of having to attend a live event. If you are in doubt ask you study centre for a preferred Learning Styles assessment.
TECHNICAL FIT – Some candidates do not think carefully about the technical fit with their CIM ASC. Although there are approximately 100 CIM ASCs to choose from across the world – all are different. As a prospective CIM student, you need to find which ASC suits you best. Some are better suited to distance learning, some to face to face. Some have specialist trainers in different industry sectors (e.g. Business to Business marketing), others are more generic. Some teach in larger groups, some to smaller.
CULTURAL FIT – Some candidates have transferred on to our courses from another training provider because they discovered they did not like they tutors or the support team. Most importantly do you like the ASC’s team and their tutors? If not, look elsewhere!
PRICE – Inevitably, many people buy on price, but as the old adage goes ‘you do tend to get what you pay for’. So look very carefully at what different ASCs provide you for your money. Invest some time and energy assessing the different offerings before you choose.
Here are 7 Top Tips to find your ideal CIM Study Centre.
1. Carefully assess at least 3 ASCs before you choose. If you want face to face or blended learning, shortlist at least 3 ASCs that are physically close to you. The CIM’s own website makes it easy now for you to do this.
2. Attend an Open Evening / Event – some ASCs run free taster sessions and Open Evenings. Make sure you go along with a critical eye. It is worth asking yourself how aggressively you have been sold to. Has the taster session been genuinely useful or just a pre-text for a sales pitch? Have the ASC’s representatives answered all your questions to your satisfaction? Remember – ask lots of questions!
3. Ask about the tutor team. Are the tutors current marketers? What marketing projects are the tutors working on right now? What industry experience do they have? Is this relevant to you and your career? E.g. If you are working for a Charity or in B2B marketing, does the ASC have trainers and tutors with suitable expertise?
4. Ask about the level of support you will receive. Will your assignment support tutor be the same person who teaches you? Some ASCs save costs by outsourcing. How does the support actually work? How exactly will your support tutors help and guide you through the programme? What are the deadlines?
5. What additional facilities do they provide? e.g. Will you receive guidance about your CV and career progression?
6. Check out any claims and testimonials. Are they genuine? If possible, try to speak to former CIM graduates directly to find out for real.
7. Level suitability – what advice have you been given about the right course level for you? Have they asked you about your professional experience, what type of marketing activities you have been involved with, the size of organisations you have worked for, the size of marketing budget etc. You need to be 100% confident that the ASC has asked enough questions to give you the correct advice.
You will be spending the best part of a year working towards your CIM qualifications, so to get the most from your investment so it is worthwhile spending some time finding the best fit for you.