Before I finished my final semester of this academic year, I fixed myself a two-week work placement with a marketing agency back home. Located in Lancashire, I had driven past this company many, many times over the years and never thought too much about it. That is, until I got to the age where careers became a prominent and recurring topic in my life and thoughts, and I began to think about the kind of business that would suit me. Once I'd looked into marketing and decided that it was something I'd be interested in, this company therefore became a potential opportunity to get a valuable insight into the profession. I got in touch, with the hope they'd take me under their wing for a brief time, and happily for me, they said yes.
So, once I'd finished my year at university, I moved home for summer and dove in to some work experience. At first I was quite apprehensive and a little shy; it's only natural to be when you're the odd one out in an already established and tight-knit environment. And that was one of the first things that struck me, how everyone was so in sync with one another and relaxed. The office space was bright, colourful and creative; an apt reflection of the people that worked there. I felt I settled in quite quickly and began to really appreciate how important synchronicity is in a business, especially a smaller one, because it really has an impact on attitude (and we know attitude is everything!).
The team was essentially split into two; the Designers and the Account Managers. I was lucky enough to spend time with both of them, responding to email briefs from clients, doing some administration work, developing ideas for an animated video, and assisting the in-house photographer on shoots both in the studio and on location. Admittedly two weeks is not a very long time to build a full picture of an entire industry, but I feel I have gathered some essential and much appreciated experience; not only about how marketing works, but how real life businesses run, and what it means to be a professional.
To anyone who is looking to sort themselves a work placement like I did, or has got one planned but not started yet, this is the advice I would give.
1. Start Positive: don't go in on your first day worrying about whether anyone will like you or not, or how long you'll get for lunch, or if you should have perhaps worn a different t-shirt because does this one have too much yellow? Don't concern yourself with the trivial; you're there to work and learn and everyone there knows that, so focus on engaging yourself with the tasks given and the people around you. That way you can get much more out of your time.
2. Be Brave: it's perfectly fine to ask for help. Or to ask anything for that matter. Sometimes I felt like a burden if I was asking quite a few questions, but in reality, I wasn't. I was just trying to get things right and absorb as much as I could, and that's the whole idea of a placement! So if you have a question, ask it. They really don't mind (I promise).
3. Keep in Touch: after you've completed your time, swap contact details with the people you've worked with. It's always worth doing some networking when the opportunity arises, and the more contacts you have for when it comes to graduating, the better.