Look! Lizzie Earl tells; 'How to bag your ultimate work experience...'
By Lizzie Earl founder of the PR agency Munch.
Here Lizzie gives her tips on how to get noticed when on a work experience placement.
In an industry as competitive as Public Relations (PR), work experience can be a crucial first step to gain an edge and get an ‘in’ into the agencies you’d love to someday work at. It’s an opportunity to see what really takes place on the ground within a business and get hands-on experience of real projects.
Many of the top PRs undoubtedly started their career as a work experience. Certainly I started mine in this way, at a little boutique agency in Soho. I still remember getting one of our clients into Company magazine in my first week - I was hooked on public relations from then on.
For every work experience programme, there must be at least ten or twenty people vying for the same position and hundreds of cover emails and CVs for the team to sift through, so standing out is key to ensuring you get a placement at your dream company.
Do your research:
Prepare as much as you can. Learn about the company before you apply. Study the website, follow it on Twitter, work out what makes the business tick. What sectors does the company work in? What sort of clients does it have? Who is in the team? A personalised, well-prepared email about why you want to work at that specific company may take longer than a copy and paste job, but it’s noticeable and goes a long way.
Tell your story in a unique way:
Trying to get your foot in the door of a creative industry like PR when you don’t have tonnes of experience already isn’t the easiest, so showcasing your talents and what you’ll bring to the company in a unique way will set you miles apart from your competition. PR is all about creating compelling stories and grabbing people’s attention in new ways. How often does someone see a CV they want to show their colleague or friends? Never. But find an innovative way to deliver your application, or package up your CV, that will get the recipient talking and you’re sure to stand out by a mile. This approach may not work with every company of course, but no one is going to penalise someone for going the extra mile.
Once you’ve successfully secured your perfect work experience placement, the next challenge is to make it count, get noticed and make an impact on your team so that you’re remembered.
Take your responsibilities seriously and treat your placement like you would a real job. Arrive on time and really care about whatever you’re helping with or learning about.
Take lots of notes, ask lots of questions and make sure you really get under the hood of what the team is working on. Despite being busy, people will often happily set aside time to talk through projects in detail with someone who genuinely wants to learn.
Offer to help wherever you can and even though you might not have any expertise to bring to the team just yet, read around the industry or clients and share interesting news or articles your team may not have spotted. This is especially pertinent in PR where we’re reacting the news agenda on a daily basis, so a great habit to get into.
Stay in touch:
At Munch we put lots of energy into making sure anyone who joins us for a work placement has a great experience and learns as much as possible about the industry and role - and lots of other agencies will do the same. An email after you’ve left telling your team what you enjoyed and what you learnt is a sure way to be remembered. Add the people you’ve met on Twitter and LinkedIn, and keep thinking about the clients or projects you worked on, sharing an email if you see something you think could be relevant (although try not to spam them of course!).
A work experience placement is a golden opportunity to make contacts, get valuable insights into your chosen industry and, if you stand out, the first step of an extremely exciting career.
Interested in working at Munch? Get in touch at www.munchpr.com.