How I gained new skills and work experience during the summer

This article is written by Rikki Sandhu, 2nd year BA English Language and owner of She is passionate about creative writing and photography and is looking to kick-start her career in Marketing and PR.

Finding a career after university isn’t always easy, so I’ve really learnt the importance of work experience and paid jobs to help complement your final degree. During term time, it can be extremely difficult to balance lectures, coursework, social life and day to day duties along with outside work. This is why I particularly focus on building my CV and portfolio during the summer holidays.

At uni

I study English Language here at the University of Reading but hope to eventually pursue a career in either marketing or PR, which are both extremely competitive fields… I took an Introduction to Marketing module as part of my degree to provide me with a solid foundation, but the reality of working in a marketing firm is very different to learning the theory in a lecture. So, after achieving 82% on my final exam, I decided to get some practical experience by joining a local marketing company in my hometown.

Getting work experience

The agency I worked for focused on a direct, face-to-face approach which involved both residential and events marketing. Although this was just a summer job, the training was invaluable and enabled me to gain further confidence and enhance my verbal communication skills. I also learnt the importance of networking and building rapport.

Using my resources

Even though I sourced this opportunity myself, I have also used the University’s careers service to enable me to secure both paid and volunteering work. This all also contributes to the University’s employability award (the RED award), which I am hoping to have completed over the summer- it looks great on your CV! I would highly recommend emailing the Careers Centre at the University of Reading (, giving them a call (0118 378 8359) or simply popping in to see them in the Carrington building on campus – their friendly team are always more than happy to help.

My blog

Finally, during the summer months, I have had more time to concentrate on my own beauty blog ( which I created over 4 years ago. This has already given me a huge insight into digital marketing and PR, enabling me to further stand out from the majority whilst pursuing my hobbies of creative writing and photography.

In the future…

Going forward, it is my aim to secure a summer internship with L’Oreal next year, which has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. The global cosmetics company own a huge range of makeup and skincare brands from luxury brands like YSL and Diesel to drugstore companies like Vichy and La Roche Posay. After initially discovering their summer internships, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some first-hand insight into what work would be like in one of the world’s leading beauty brands.

Ultimately, using your contacts and time efficiently during the summer can mean making money, keeping busy and enhancing your future prospects. It really is a win-win situation!