An important part of studying at university is making sure that you also get some good work experience, allowing you to apply what you’re learning, and get a full understanding of how your course relates to potential career choices. This summer I was lucky enough to get a three month placement at online fashion retailer Isabella Oliver.
Isabella Oliver was founded in 2003 and first concentrated on supplying stylish maternity clothes for women who weren’t prepared to compromise their style during their pregnancy. At the request of customers, they then created a 365 Collection range offering non-maternity fashion.
Based in London, they’re a well known company with many pregnant celebrity fans as well as an extremely loyal customer base. I first came across them in 2009 when I was introduced to the opportunity to do some work experience in the PR and marketing team whist studying for my A-levels. Two years later and I was delighted when I was offered the chance to rejoin the team for a summer placement with Michelle, the fantastic PR manager. After communicating with her about the various logistics of the placement I was ready and raring to get started.
As a massive fashion fanatic I really enjoyed my work experience week with the company the first time round, but I had no idea how much I would embrace and appreciate this new experience with them. Michelle and all of the team work very closely and I admire the respect and appreciation everyone shows each other in the office. Every morning I could be sure that I would be looked after and praised as well as kept busy and active allowing me to get a fabulous range of experience.
Some of my daily duties included helping out with the management of the showroom and all the samples. I was responsible for sending out a lot of samples to magazines and dealing with the press for shoots, features and online articles. I also contacted bloggers and online press with releases and other opportunities such as reviews and competitions, which taught me a lot about communication. I also got the chance to do some research on various topics such as trade shows, wholesalers and media contacts in Australia and America.
As well as my day to day duties I was able to help out on shoots for new collections, both on location and in the studio. This offered me a wider range of understanding for what the company does. Part of working with the PR team is sending out ‘Look Books’ to relevant press and so it was great to witness the process of how these are created.
On these shoots I was able to work with Ania, the Fashion Editor and also founder Baukjen, who both taught me a lot about having an eye for fashion. One of the best things about working with Isabella Oliver is the kind and patient nature of the employees, even when things get stressful, and this was evident on the shoots.
If this experience has taught me anything, its how invaluable work experience really is. It was that experience in 2009 that encouraged me to look into PR and the fashion industry, and coming back made me sure I had made the right choice for the right reasons. I even found myself looking back over the knowledge I learnt in my first year at university and gaining a new understanding for all the terms and theories we learnt. Working with Isabella Oliver has confirmed all of my reasons for getting into PR.
There’s never a dull day, it’s vital for any business and most importantly, no two days are ever the same. The thrill and excitement you get from working in a fast-paced industry supplies you with all the satisfaction you could wish for from a career.
I urge anyone studying PR, or even thinking about studying PR, to get out there and find out what it’s all about. It will help you gain a well-rounded view of the career opportunities you have in this industry. Although this was fashion PR I have also worked in retail and property PR. The great thing about PR is that there are so many paths you can take, so go out there and experience them. Apart from anything else, pushing for these experiences and finding and contacting people in the industry is also a great way to practice the important skills of persuasion and communication, vital for working in PR.