Gain experience – and do good

This is an article by Danielle Stott.
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When looking for placements, charities can often get overlooked in favour of bigger, more exciting sounding agencies. Yet they can be a great place to start.

I spent the majority of my first year trying to hunt down someone willing to take me on for a placement. I tried all the usual agencies unsuccessfully, before finally catching a break. I’ve been on placement at Leeds-based homeless and disadvantaged charity St George’s Crypt on one-day-a-week placement since around April, and have loved every second. Whilst I’m there, I really feel like part of the team, and like my ideas are heard.

One advantage of working at a charity is that they’re often quite small. This meant that I got to know everyone who worked there really well, and also had a variety of different tasks to get stuck into. These ranged from the typical intern tasks such as proof reading, to writing copy for the website and newsletters, designing invitations and programmes and giving my input to different things.

I’ve been involved in some exciting fundraising events, such as fairs and even a music festival where I helped organise the bands and steward on the day.  The chance to see first-hand how an event unfolds from start to finish was a great experience, and something I know will be useful for years to come.  I even had the opportunity to go with the Crypt to Leeds Festival, and meet the Lord Mayor of Leeds at our end of campaign party.

Danielle (far left) with St George's Crypt at Leeds Festival

‘Crypt Fest’ took place early October, after weeks of planning and organising. The aim was to provide a full day out to raise money for the Crypt.

We had over 10 acts playing on the day, mainly young local bands, but X factor contestant Basil Simons who made it through to bootcamp also made an appearance.

As we wanted to give the event a festival-like feel, we had various stands, including local milkshake company shake-a-holic’s, as well as a bar, BBQ, cakes and games.

This event was a great opportunity not just to raise money, but also to raise awareness of the charity by generating as much coverage for the event as possible. There is now the opportunity to build on this, by possibly running it as an annual event, and trying to make it bigger and better.

Being at Leeds Festival was a great opportunity for the Crypt, as it yet again helped to get our name out there. We had first pick of any food left over which generated almost two vans full of food, and even had a video on the big screen (in which I embarrassingly made my acting debut!) between bands, encouraging people to donate any unused food to us. This was fantastic, especially as it was shown between Pulp and The Strokes, two off the biggest bands at the festival.

Working at a charity not only gives valuable work experience, but also leaves you with a  feeling you’re doing something good. Before working at the Crypt, I never thought of charity PR as a career option, but now it’s definitely something I would consider in the future and would never rule anything out before trying it.

With everything you learn at university, you never know what really happens in PR until you’ve had some experience, which is why placements are so important.

If you’re looking for a placement to get you started in the world of PR, I would definitely recommend trying charities as a different way to get into this sometimes daunting industry.

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