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Work Experience
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

Having found that my CV was lacking greatly from speaking to my mentor, who I was put in touch with through the university's e-mentoring programme, we decided that experience was what I needed to focus on in order to improve my graduate prospects.

How did you find your placement/internship?

My mentor put me in touch with the Chief Executive of Social Communications, asking about maybe advising me or offering some work experience. From that email introduction I then spoke to him directly, arranging when and where it would be.

Application process

After the initial email contact I had a phone call with the chief executive who was keen for me to come for several weeks to see the work that Social Communications do, and as my focus remains in a career in public affairs, he suggested being based in their Leeds office which is where most of their stakeholder engagement takes place. As opposed to a formal application process, it was more of a conversation about what I wanted to do and how they could help me, which probably stems from the personal introduction.

What made you choose this organisation for your placement/internship?

I was advised, when introduced to the company, that the individual in the organisation I was put in touch with was well respected in the field and had very good values when it came to work. The company was similarly well respected, and therefore I felt comfortable going into such an organisation that would support me and be useful. I felt like a communications company would also give me a wider scope of experience than simply the public affairs role I wish to pursue, however they are still specialists in public affairs so I knew I'd be able to focus more on that if I wanted.

Main responsibilities

My day to day tasks consisted of supporting the team in whatever way was necessary. Wherever there was something they could use an extra pair of hands, I was called into help which meant I was able to support on a wide range of different tasks.

Typical day

Mainly my tasks involved research tasks, for example finding out information to present to clients on potential development opportunities or a list of relevant stakeholders in a project. I was also given other tasks such as preparing social media posts for clients, which involved understanding the aims of such posts and the appropriate tone to fit in with the brand and their objectives. Other tasks I did included drafting press releases and writing letters to stakeholders about an engagement event associated with a key development.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

The work I was given was varied, interesting and extremely informative. I really enjoyed working within the office environment, and being in an agency meant that the work was always varied with there being a range of different clients and tasks.

Challenging aspects

Probably not knowing anything before I started was the biggest challenge, I had no idea what I was doing whatsoever. However, I felt supported in everything I did, but was also allowed the freedom to ensure my skills developed on their own. Everyone in the office made sure I had the background knowledge I needed, and they explained everything I was doing to me. I was able to ask questions throughout and when I did go wrong, my efforts weren't undermined at all.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

Mainly research and writing skills. I was nervous that in a work environment I wouldn't be as good at both as I am in university, but in practice the two are very similar. Studying politics also meant I had a lot of awareness of local government and regional political issues which was useful for stakeholder engagement.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I still plan to pursue a career in public affairs, and they have offered ongoing support in terms of reading over applications or advice if ever I need it. Before I thought Id head straight into an agency or an in-house public affairs role, but having spoken to various people, politics is now more of an option for me. Not only am I aware of my capabilities for such a role, as the tasks I did with Social Communications would be the everyday tasks of a researcher or assistant, but I was advised that the experience I would gain from such a role would be invaluable in my future career.

As a result of your placement/internship, what are your next steps in planning what you want to do after graduation?

I plan to continue to get as much experience as I can, having realised just how useful it can be, whilst applying for jobs at the same time. Graduating soon I plan to contact organisations and MPs to try and secure this.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

I would say enjoy it, it's really put my mind at ease about my capabilities after graduation and also proved that I would enjoy working in an office environment which I was nervous about.

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Form completed: 15 May 2019

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