I’m a student from Bournemouth University currently in my sandwich year, which I’ve been looking forward to since I accepted my place at university.
Finding a PR placement
Throughout my second year, all my friends and I spent plenty of time looking for work opportunities. Some had everything organised by December, whilst others were still searching when the academic year finished. The one question I got all the time from friends and family was ‘what happens if you don’t get a placement?’, but I can now assure you, everyone will find something eventually. I can’t stress that enough. There are a huge number of chances if you know where to look – my university listed plenty of roles on their placement microsite, as well as running CV workshops and helping with applications. Otherwise, you can search for opportunities on your own by contacting companies directly, utilising friends or family in the industry, or simply searching online – this list is amazing. You could take a creative approach, around a year ago I created a twitter CV and followed a bunch of people in the PR Week power book . This put me in touch with key contacts and even set up a few interviews, as well as getting me into PRWeek! Eventually, I opted for a place with BWP Group, an integrated marketing agency in Marlow with an amazing PR team and clients including Polaroid, STIHL and Spitalfields E1.
Why placements are great
There are plenty of reasons that spending a year in industry is fantastic, other than the obvious – seeing what the real world is like.
- The chance to put what you’ve learnt into practice. You are taught a lot at university, so it can be difficult to keep up with everything you’ve learned in the first two years. When you’re working, organisation, writing, creativity and other essential PR skills are part of everyday life. Not to mention that every day, you’re figuring out how to improve your skills in a completely different way to revision.
- You’re learning everyday… And during my entire time so far, I’m lucky to have a team that’s happy to help with any questions I have. Plus, there’s plenty of things you don’t learn in university, such as how to charm clients or sell in to journalists. And there’s plenty to learn from colleagues – these are experts who have years’ worth of experience in the industry, have seen it change over time, and know what works and what doesn’t.
- You’re still treated like an employee. I’m not treated like someone on work experience: I’ve been given many responsibilities and feel valued. This gives you an insight into how to manage from the wider strategy picture down to the tiny details on a release. You get to know the clients, and become a much more employable person for the future.
- This may not apply to all placements but – in an integrated agency, you get to see more than just PR. You get to see the similarities between PR and other comms disciplines, and how marketing, strategy, creative and everything else come together to create great services for clients.
- You get to try new things. BWP Group focuses primarily on retail and leisure destinations, which was completely new to me. Seeing past ideas and campaigns is eye opening, not to mention how much work is put in and how to put great ideas into action.
Work experience is insightful and informative, and a sandwich year really gives you the chance to fully understand a business, clients and the industry, as well as really adding to a university degree. Finding a placement may be hard, but it’s great preparation for finding work after you graduate!
If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!