In our newest Placement Profile we spoke to Campus Jobs Help Desk team member Caitlin, who gave us the low down on her time doing a professional placement here on Campus.
So, tell us about yourself…
I’m Caitlin, a fourth-year Consumer Behaviour and Marketing student at the University of Reading.
Where did you do your placement year?
I completed my placement year at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, located in the University of Reading; as a Marketing Coordinator. To give you a bit of background information about the School, they have over 150 members of staff and primarily focus on academic teaching, (they are currently ranked 1st in the UK and 9th internationally in the 2019 QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry) and research (81% of their research being rated as internationally excellent in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework).
What were the main responsibilities of your role?
Throughout my time on placement, there were three main aspects to my role: social media creation, website management and events organisation. A major aspect of my placement role was centred around the School’s social media channels. The School uses social media channels to promote its activities and engage with industry experts. My main role was to create social media posts that could be used on the School’s channels throughout the year. The posts ranged from congratulating a student or member of staff on an achievement, to promoting events that the School was hosting, like the 53rd Agricultural Conference. Throughout the year the School also ran a number of Facebook Ad Campaigns. As part of my role I was asked to create the content for a few of these, which included taking usable photographic material, and collate the data provided by Facebook and in one instance, Google Analytics, into easily comprehensible reports.
Another aspect of my placement role was to maintain the School’s website. This developed my IT skills as I needed to learn how to use the website software; ActivEdition. Throughout the year I created a variety of new webpages for the website that were linked to and expanded on the information in the School’s Facebook Ad Campaigns. These included pages about the new Online Courses and Foundation Programmes offered by the School.
Throughout the year I was also responsible for organising the School’s Open Days and Visit Days – key events for the School with regard to student recruitment. When organising these events I had to coordinate my colleagues within the School and liaise with the larger University Events Team, to ensure that the University’s event as a whole, ran smoothly, this has improved my ability to work as part of a team.
I was even given the opportunity to create a piece of literature for the School that would highlight to prospective students what their first year at the University of Reading could consist of. These were entitled; ‘Example Student Timetables’. This project was left completely in my control. I had to approach the students, gather the necessary components and liaise with the Design Team to produce the artwork. The timetables are now given to prospective students at Open Days.
What did you find the most challenging about doing a placement?
My placement year completely exceeded my expectations. I now have multiple examples to use in job interviews of things that I have achieved and multiple skills that I have developed.
Perhaps the most challenging thing about my placement, particularly in the beginning, was learning to stay focused during the day. A major aspect of studying at university is this idea of independent learning; aside from your lectures it is really up to you to manage your time. If you don’t feel like doing a particular piece of work one day, you can do it the next day. However, working to real industry deadlines this isn’t an option and I needed to make sure I was being productive every day. Nevertheless, by the end of my placement I really enjoyed the routine and felt like I had accomplished something every day.
Is there anything in particular you feel you developed/learnt?
As a result of my placement I have developed numerous skills.
Throughout my time in this role, my written communication has improved due to the different styles of writing that I have been using. Producing articles and profiles has made my writing technique more sophisticated.
Organising the student ambassadors during the Open and Visit Days has also improved my leadership skills as I was required to brief the student ambassadors on the details of the day, answer any questions they had and solve any issues that arose.
My ability to time manage has also increased. Having a considerable workflow to complete, it was important to prioritise my time effectively so that every task was completed to deadline and to a high standard.
I really consider the responsibility that I was given during my placement to be extremely valuable as it allowed me to learn skills I wouldn’t have otherwise.
What tips would you give to other students looking at arranging their placement year?
If you are considering whether or not to do a placement, from my experience I would say definitely do a placement, I cannot recommend it enough! Even if you do not want to take a year out of your degree, try and get an internship in the summer as the experience you gain is really beneficial. For those already applying for a placement, my top tips are:
- Don’t just apply to bigger organisations – you might find increased responsibility with a smaller organisation
- Keep applying and don’t give up, I got my placement in March – which could be considered quite late in the applying process.
- With each application edit your cover letter, research what the organisation does, as if you are invited to an interview, this knowledge will come across and could make you stand out!
Thanks for reading! If you are interested in doing a placement, or are due to do your placement year shortly, make sure you keep up to date and get to any Professional Placement Year (PPY) events applicable to you via the Careers service, book on to them via My Jobs Online. Also look out for our next Podcast which is centred around Placements, coming out late next week.
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