Many students have already completed The Professional Track by the time they begin their final year at University. I spoke to third year students Phaidra and Megan to ask why they completed the scheme and what they gained from it.
I really enjoyed completing The Professional Track because I got to do courses on Journalism, Social Media Marketing and Publishing, which have allowed me to progress on my career pathway. I discovered through my work on the courses that I want to have a career in publishing, not journalism, as well as develop my social media marketing skills.
The Social Media Marketing course allowed me to gain a business placement position working as a social media intern for the English Literature department, while the Publishing course gave me the opportunity to network with industry professionals. This resulted in me getting an internship at Holland House Books.
I converted my second year module ‘The Business of Books’ into an Academic Placement, where I worked as an intern at Paper + Ink, an imprint of Momentum Books, for two weeks. This gave me the opportunity to work at the London Book Fair and gain more experience in the publishing industry. I replaced my coursework on the module with a placement report, which also counted towards my degree.
Upon choosing a University to study at, employability was one of my key factors to look out for. The Professional Track demonstrated to me that the department is heavily involved in making sure students can utilise their skillsets in non-academic environments, and has continued to demonstrate this since. The opportunities that I have been able to partake in have been diverse, allowing me to test out different career paths. I am now able to demonstrate practical skills and provide employers with evidence of practical and theory based work within their field. This has been invaluable, as more and more recruiters expect students to have spent a significant amount of time within a professional environment. The Professional Track has enabled me to undertake this experience alongside my degree, making it less stressful as an undergraduate juggling a variety of jobs and responsibilities.
In my second year, as part of a placement module – Literature, Language, and Media, I undertook a two-week Academic Placement at the Head Office of Marks and Spencer in their Brand and Marketing Department. Under the guidance of the Assistant Manager of Menswear, I was able to complete tasks that were demonstrative of the job and linked to my report question. I undertook ‘comp shops’ (analysing competitors marketing campaigns in store) and fed back to the department any improvements that could be made from my findings. I also attended the A/W 17 season review, learning about the analytics used, as well as having informal meetings with people within the department to learn more about their jobs such as copywriting, digital marketing, and SEO amplification.
An Academic Placement forces you to think critically about the job and work environment at hand. This transfers into later jobs, in which you are able to take that critical thinking and apply it to your independent work. The placement not only contributed to my degree, but also provided me with a wealth of knowledge that I can draw upon to demonstrate my ability in interviews and internships. Ultimately, my placement influenced Reading UK to take me on for a summer internship. Across three months I was the social media account holder and ran a social media marketing campaign for the Reading-on-Thames Festival. Within this internship I also got to produce print material for the Heritage Open Days, further leading me to take part in the Publishing course this year and undertake an editorial position for a book produced within the department.