During my undergraduate degree, I threw myself into the University lifestyle, it was three years of travelling, making as many new friends as I could and collecting amazing experiences. Cliché as it sounds, it was as much an opportunity for me to grow into myself rather than a platform to start building a career. After graduating, I secured a job, packed my bags and moved to an exciting new city and worked in finance for two years. But I always had the feeling that it wasn’t quite the right fit. So, I decided to take the plunge and left my finance job, swapping numbers for textbooks and embarked on a Masters Degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising.
I knew straight away that I wanted my second bite of the education apple to be different from my first. Getting experience was a high priority so I set about researching PR agencies that were open to having a full-time intern and was lucky enough to secure a position at a fantastic agency (SERIOUS, in case you couldn’t tell?)
Many of my peers agreed getting experience is desirable but some did express concerns about working along studying. “Does it not monopolise a lot of my time?”, “Would it not be more beneficial to focus on learning for the year and worry about practical experience after?”
I tell them all the same thing, go for it! It’s undoubtedly the best classroom to learn in. Here are just some benefits of taking on a placement alongside work…..
Develop skills specific to your industry Sure, having the academic credentials under your belt is a fantastic way to kick start your career, but gaining practical experience is invaluable to employers. In PR being able to write creatively is key, this is something they don’t teach you in the classroom – practise, practise, practise..
Having the know-how can actually boost your grades I know for sure that this helped me in my classes, understanding how the theory you are learning is applied in the workplace really helped me grasp many of the concepts, allowing for further study and delving deeper into the subject.
Grow your network As they say, ‘It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.’
PR is an incredibly sociable industry, so getting to know the ‘locals’ , especially media will put you in great stead post university. Good recommendations and word of mouth are a sure-fire way to get your name out there, and remembered. Who knows what opportunities may come your way as a result of someone advocating for you?
Practise your professional self Some skills simply cannot be taught in a lecture theatre. Conducting yourself in a professional manner, be that answering phone calls or emailing clients, these are essential skills that you learn when in the workplace and are desirable to potential employers.
Mad (time management) skill Balancing University work, your job, your social life, sleeping and still managing to fit in those essential Netflix binges can seem like an impossible task. But believe me, it can be done! When time is precious you learn to make the most of it, setting aside dedicated study hours increases productivity and hopefully means that when your dreaded deadline dates come around, those scheduled study hours mean no last-minute all-nighters. (Disclaimer: optimising time utilisation does not prevent against Netflix binges exceeding allocated time – because some things can never change!)
Finally, it’s tonnes of fun This year I’ve made some amazing friends, met and had the opportunity to work with incredible clients and guess what? It’s fun! Working in a creative and dynamic agency means that each day presents new and enjoyable tasks and motivates me in my studies. I’ve yet to find a better motivator than the knowledge that I am studying a subject to further a career I will genuinely love.