Real Stories

CIM Student Stories: Sofia | Online CIM Level 4 Review

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Discover how studying an online CIM Level 4 Certificate helped Sofia Balderson, marketer, gain theoretical and practical knowledge that's boosted her confidence in her job. 


I am currently studying for the CIM Level 4 qualification (Digital Marketing).

I decided to go for this qualification because every time I would say 'I’m a marketer' to prospective employers, they struggled to see the connection between my degree and my experience.

To add to that, even though I’d already had about a year’s worth of marketing experience, I didn’t feel confident advising people on marketing strategies with no solid knowledge to fall back on. I have bought a marketing book and started going through it, but, unfortunately, I have always lacked motivation and felt I needed a proper course to commit to.


It took me a very long time to find a course as I was unsure about the differences between different providers. I chose ICS because they seemed friendly and approachable and I liked that the book work was also included.


As I live in a remote village in the UK, it had to be an online course. Even though I knew how to study online, I’ve never done a course of this length. My job can be very demanding sometimes, so I was worried I would not be able to complete the course in time.

Being able to choose your own study times was great, as well as having ICS’s suggested timeline and an option to extend the course if needed.

Independent learning is perfect for me as sometimes I feel that I’m slower than others and need more time on the topic, and sometimes I feel like I already know the topic quite well. This saved me a lot of time and energy, as well as not having to travel anywhere.

Of course, you don’t have the same group dynamic and it can seem quite lonely, but your tutor and the forum for the students are there if you need any help.

ICS online chat is on during working hours and is very useful if you’re unsure about anything and need a quick response.


Being able to dip in and out the course when it suited me is a huge bonus, but I suggest that you keep to the schedule and book your exam as soon as possible. Leaving about a month before the exam to revise and ask all the needed questions will save you a lot of stress!


I’ve already passed my Marketing exam with Distinction, which is the highest award CIM gives.

I felt that the combination of suggested materials (books and articles) and ICS’s own materials, as well as going through at least 5 past papers helped me to achieve this grade.

It only took me an hour to complete the exam from the allowed two, and even though there were some questions I was unsure about, I was able to use the practice from the course to help me.


Ever since I started the course, I have gained a lot of confidence in my marketing knowledge. I feel comfortable offering my opinion when we discuss our marketing strategy and I now can advise our partners on promotion knowing it’s backed by theory and practice.


My analytical skills have improved, not to mention the knowledge of all the terminology and concepts. My colleagues have also noticed that I’ve grown in my role and I was given more responsibility and a more senior title, which I’m enjoying very much!

Working towards the certificate adds to my CV and makes more roles available for me in the future, which gives me more job security.

I feel like I’m a more well-rounded specialist and a valued member of the team.

In the future, I’d like to continue growing in my current role as I enjoying working for my employer very much.

I will definitely continue developing as a professional with the help of this course and other resources as I’m very impressed with the effect it had on me.


I always say that no matter how expensive the materials and courses are, it’s the best investment you will ever make. You will receive the dividends many times, either by being given a raise or a bonus or by feeling more confident and fulfilled in your role, which is really priceless.


I would recommend the course to anyone who is in a similar situation, perhaps looking for a job or seeking to feel more confident in your current position.

Or maybe you just want to learn more about marketing, which I found very interesting both from a consumer and a marketer point of view. If you’re considering it, I suggest giving it a go rather than hesitating to see if it’s for you, as ICS has a great cooling-off period. Good luck! 


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