The truth about studying for your CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing

If you want a CV sassier than Beyonce’s then you’re maybe considering asking your boss to pay for a professional qualification, or even digging deep and investing in one yourself.

I spent years thinking about it before actually doing it, so to save you a bit of procrastination time, here’s my experience of studying for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing.

Studying while working full-time has heaps of benefits especially in a job like marketing, which changes all the time.

There’s a big bunch of stats about people who complete the course, but the headlines are that you’re more likely to get better jobs, be promoted and earn more money.

For a lone wolf marketer like me who doesn’t have a big marketing team behind her, a wise old mentor (ugh, the dream!) guiding her, or even a degree in marketing, I’d say the course was pretty invaluable.

I feel like a proper ‘marketing person,’ now, not just somebody who fell into it, plus I understand lots of the theory behind it.

BUT, there are parts of it that are tough. Isn’t that always the way?

The bad parts about studying for your CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing while you work


(a)The terrible anxiety that comes from forgetting how to study and do assignments.

(b) You’re a proper adult with a 9 -5, plus other pesky adult responsibilities, like cleaning the house, buying toilet roll, batch cooking, stroking the cats and watching Netflix.

Yeah about that.

Netflix and the internet didn’t really exist when I was a student first time around. I was always getting into trouble with broken floppy disks ( yes, floppy disks, I am OLD) and Facebook was just newly a thing.

The internet wasn’t the vast space of limitless opportunities for entertainment/distraction that it is now, and even if it was, you couldn’t simply swipe up for access to it all on your little Nokia.

This means two things.

First, that our attention spans are short and rubbish and you have to lock your phone inside a vault and throw it to the bottom of the ocean if you want to get any study done, and two, when you do take the time out to enjoy online wonders, such as the aforementioned Netflix, you will feel hideously guilty because you should be studying. You should always be studying. 

Basically, all enjoyment is ruined a little bit because you should be working on your assignments.

Obviously, a great way to get around this would be drawing up a study timetable and actually sticking to it.

I however certainly didn’t do this, and judging by the frantic Whatsapp messages from my classmates around assignment deadline time, neither did they.

**For people that work and study at the same time as having children, I salute you. I had two kittens and that was hard enough.**

Studying after work

I found that studying at home was almost impossible and instead spent about £1000 on after work/weekend coffees in Starbucks.

The novelty of this hipstery arrangement soon wore off, especially on winter nights when all I wanted to do was drive home and lie down. I did earn a lot of reward stars though.

The good parts about studying for your Diploma in Professional Marketing while you work

Saturday Seminars – Diploma in Professional Marketing

I signed up for my course through Cambridge Marketing College and opted for Saturday seminars.

There are lots of ways that you can study, including distance learning and weekly evening classes ( depending on what study centre you go for) but Saturdays suited me.

There are three modules over the course of the year and there were about three seminars for each module.

Each Saturday I would drive to Murrayfield rugby stadium ( random but sort of swanky)  for a slap-up lunch and to meet with fellow students and my tutor, who would lead the class in a lecture and then we’d do exercises to help us complete the assignment.

I loved hanging out with other marketing people, who were all lots of fun and very similar to me.

The tutors were also great as they are all highly experienced marketers out in the real world and so they marry the theory with real-life business tales that were, on the whole, really interesting.

I actually started to feel like a proper marketing person, which with over 8 years experience I am, but this helped get rid of the pesky imposter syndrome.

Assignment results and an exam *bleugh*

The level 6 diploma includes two assignment hand in’s and a mandatory exam on strategic marketing.

Yep, you heard right, an exam.

Three hours shut up in a silent room scribbling away with a claw hand – it brought back lots of horrible exam flashbacks.

The exam was hanging over me from when I signed up to the course until we sat it in April, so that’s nine months of utter dread.

The stress was hideous but the feeling of accomplishment was brilliant and something you don’t get that often as an adult.

I passed it, just, but lots of people tell me that getting a high mark in things like this is a waste of energy anyway…

CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing assignment results

I’d feel a bit sick the days that results came out by email but each time I passed, gradually getting better marks each time. Cue lots of squealing and drinking of wine.

By the time I did my last module I was clearly finally getting into the swing of things as I passed with freaking merit – what a buzz.


What now?

I’m now a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and regularly go to their workshops, which give me nice seminar vibes.

We all talk about our experiences as marketers and learn skills in whatever we feel we’re lacking or could brush up on, such as Google Analytics and LinkedIn marketing.

I did get a pay rise at work and I’ve got more confidence when suggesting strategies and introducing new ideas.

After so long feeling a bit stuck career-wise it’s like I’ve actually moved forward at last.

If you’re thinking about it and you can afford to cover the costs, then I’d say go for it.

You will feel stressy and overworked at times but the year will fly by and you’ll have properly achieved something by the end of it.

Go you! Go me!

Tips for studying your CIM level 6 diploma in professional marketing

Happy studying x


  1. July 4, 2018 / 12:09 am

    Great advice! will you be going on to level 7?

    • flicarama
      July 21, 2018 / 9:51 am

      Thanks Sonia! I have my hands full with working and freelancing at the moment, so not right now. I’m sort of specialising in content now too, so I’m more likely to opt for training down that path.. I’m all for continued learning though! Good luck if you’re studying right now! xx

  2. Charlotte B
    September 12, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    Hi! Thanks so much for this post. I’m starting Level 6 tonight and feelin a little nervous about the dreaded exam which isn’t until April!
    Well done in your studies!

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