Recently at university I was asked to research the question, ‘What are the benefits of a year long PR placement?’ Initially I thought to myself, ‘Well surely the benefits are obvious, everyone must want to take a PR placement?’
However after carrying out the research, we uncovered quite the opposite, with some students clearly unaware of the benefits of a placement year and others choosing to opt out of doing a PR placement due to their own negative perceptions.
‘So what are the benefits of a placement year? And why should I spend an extra year at university when I just want to get my degree and get out into the big wide world of PR?’
Well here it is, straight from the mouths of the professionals, the top four reasons to do a PR placement.
Reason 1. A Degree is no longer enough
According to Richard Bailey, PR lecturer at Leeds Met, when going for a PR job you must be the best candidate. Unfortunately, a 2:1 or even a First in a PR degree no longer cuts the mustard. In today’s competitive job market, you need to stand out and you need to have experience.
‘We know that employers don’t just want graduates, they want graduates with experience, and it’s no longer enough to just have a degree’, agrees Lucy Laville, PR course leader at Leeds Met.
Reason 2. What better way to learn and develop new skills?
From practical skills, to written and verbal communication skills, to basic time management: Let’s be honest, when was the last time we have seen 7am?
‘Being in the office from 9-6, 9-8, or whatever it takes to do a PR job, helps students to improve their organisational skills. The demands we put on you at university are at best sporadic. Believe me we don’t put you under pressure but your placement year certainly will’, says Richard Bailey.
‘It gives you great insight into the world of work and gives students structure having to be up and in the office in the morning. You find that students grow and mature throughout the year and gain confidence’ adds Lucy Laville.
Reason 3. Use the help available to you while you have the chance
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. This is definitely true about all of the help and advice that is available to you while you’re at university, so use it while you have the opportunity. Take the time to get your CV checked over, get job applications checked and seek any help or advice if you are having any doubts or questions surrounding a placement year.
Stephanie Brockbank, placements officer at Leeds Met University says, ‘When you graduate and you start to look for a job, if you’ve not done a placement and you’ve not been to the placements office, you don’t know how to do the applications and interviews. I think students should use the placement office facility while they have they chance.’
Stephanie urges students to visit the placements office and seek out advice. ‘We can help them with areas they are interested in, where they want to live etc. They need to come and seek advice to know what’s available to them.’
Reason 4. Get your foot in the door
A placement year is a great opportunity for you to impress your employer as well as a fantastic networking opportunity. After a year in the industry you will have gained a lot of new contacts which will give you a massive head start in a career in PR.
‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ may only be half true, but if you work hard on your placement year and leave a lasting impression who knows what doors may open.
Onochie Eneh, a former Leeds Met student who carried out a placement year at Redmayne Bentley stockbrokers and now works at the company says, ‘A placement year is a great experience, not only do you learn new skills but it boosts your employability and gives you great insight into your chosen industry. A year long placement definitely puts you ahead of others when it comes to getting a job and in many cases gives you the chance to get your foot in the door’.
So if that’s not enough positives for you I don’t know what is, but maybe you can be tempted by some of the fantastic internships on offer.
How do you fancy yourself working in PR for Disney Studios, or in the press office at John Lewis as merchandise assistant? Technology whiz…how does PR for Apple or Panasonic sound? Or is the automotive industry your PR calling? Vauxhall, Porsche, Volkswagen and McLaren are just some of the organisations that offer year-long placements. The possibilities are endless and the sky’s the limit, so what are you waiting for. Get applying and make sure you give your PR career a kick start.