Mariah Kalidas on sandwich placement at Carswell Gould in Southampton

Name: Mariah KalidasMariah

Course: Public Relations

Job role: Junior Account Exec

Company: Carswell Gould


As Junior Account Exec at Carswell Gould, I was expected to support on all PR activities from writing press releases to media monitoring and social media scheduling. My primary responsibility was to be proactive in research, content creation and maintain a first class service for all clients.

Has this experience impacted how and what you see in your future?

Placement year has opened my eyes to the breadth of PR and I have definitely decided where I see myself in the future. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, which have helped direct the next steps in my career for after I graduate.

Do you think that you know more about yourself as a result of your placement experience?

I’ve learnt so much about myself on placement year that I wasn’t aware of; it’s an experience that exposes how you work with others, deal with challenging situations and manage your workload.

If you could go back in time to when you first started university, would you do anything differently?

I would have done more research into specific organisations I wanted to work for. This would have given me a clearer idea of the type of company I could see myself in and helped my decisions during the application process in second year.  Although, upon greater reflection, through placement year I have figured out where I see myself working in the future.

Any advice you would give other students wanting to find a placement?

I found that it’s important to know what you’re passionate about and where you can see yourself working. It will help you focus your search for a placement and you’ll be able to put more energy into something you are truly passionate about or enjoy doing. Lastly, be confident and be ambitious.

One quote to sum up the whole experience!

“A crucial experience that will improve your employability and your future.”

Feedback from the Placement Supervisor (and BU BAPR Alum) – Niall Malone at The Football Foundation

  1.  How long have you been accepting placement students from BU, and how many do you usually employ each year?
    The Football Foundation’s placement year scheme started in 2010 and since then the organisation has recruited several BU grads.

    2.    What sort of roles are available at your company as placements?
    The Football Foundation’s Communications Team takes two placement students every year.

    3.    What is it about offering placements to BU students that appeals to you?
    As a former BU student myself I’ll have to remove any bias here (!) but on the whole they tend to be an industrious and innovative bunch.

    4.    Are there any skills/attributes that particularly impress you about the students you take on?
    They are personable and have a real willingness to learn.

    5.    Why do you think work placements are a valuable part of a degree course?
    Placements are valuable because they marry an undergrad’s theory studies with practical work experience. Ultimately the 12 months spent in industry increase a student’s chance of employment on graduation exponentially.

    6.    When you’re hiring for permanent positions, what would you say makes a graduate stand out?
    Well researched answers in their interview, evidence of other shorter-term internships and a portfolio of  work which might include previous press releases and articles that they have written.

    Niall Malone, Communications Manager and BU BAPR graduate

MAMC Li Dang – My homeland return for my placement with a slightly different ‘ME’

For my thirty-week placement, I used to think that it would feel like a long time but in a blink, I find myself now preparing for the last weeks of my placement with a heavy weight carried on my shoulders.MAMC Li Dang Level P 2015 - 2016  1 photo

The decision on securing a placement in Vietnam was made after a period of careful thoughts and discussion. I knew that it had been a year since I left Vietnam and so it would be nice to be home and therefore, a good decision. Even though after taking this decision led me to have to refuse other exciting opportunities in the UK, I do not regret my decision. Now, after the majority of my placement has passed, my decision has proved to be the best one as I have had a wonderful time with VIETGUYS, a local mobile marketing solutions agency.

Even though my previous work experience included working for IBM Vietnam, I realised that working in a small organisation brought both challenges and opportunities. While being in a big corporation, everything seemed to be more structured as there were established roles and subsequent ways of doing something. In VIETGUYS, I have found it to be the opposite as I have had to manage a considerable number of tasks in various situations and even “roles” within a limited time. At the very beginning I was not used to this company culture, and just completed tasks given to me, following what my supervisor required. Thus, sometimes, I had quite a lot of spare time and could not understand why my other colleagues had so many things to deal with. To me, my first week was full of observation and I felt that my placement might be bad as I truly felt like an outsider. However, the next day when I took the initiative and asked for more work, things became incredibly exciting. I very quickly learned that in this new environment and this new way of working, I was going to have so much to learn, I couldn’t possibly do it all!

My position requires me to work with salespeople, contact clients and report directly to my supervisor who is a business director. Therefore, in this role I am the link between my supervisor and sales team, or the salesperson and the client, so it is never a dull moment as every situation can be different. There have been some situations which have required me to satisfy demands from both sides, clearly with their own reasons.  This has significantly impacted my other tasks in terms of time, efficiency and energy. So, in moving forward, I tried to identify solutions. I was successful after presenting my opinions and solution to my supervisor as well as other salespeople in both formal and informal meetings. For example, I presented the idea of creating a table describing an order of required actions customised for each salesperson on a week by week basis. My goal was to improve the work flow, save time, thereby increasing efficiency. After one trial week, the main issues had been resolved and everyone was pleased with the progress.

VIETGUYS has provided me the chance to work with lots of clever young people who are resourceful, creative with multitask skills and technical skills, and the ability of dealing matters on limited budget. I can say that I have not only enjoyed my placement, through my experience I have been able to increase my professional network. My supervisor and colleagues have been wonderful as they have always known how to cheer others up and keep staff morale high, how to balance work with life, and how to develop others’ abilities with straight feedback. I believe that through my personal and professional development achieved during my placement, I have made great progress towards my future career endeavors.

I have also learned plenty of other valuable lessons which has helped me become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. While I will soon leave, I know that I will miss both the team and office of VIETGUYS. I have learned firsthand that real experience is precious and necessary, particularly when thinking about your future. Getting out of your comfort zone to explore and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world is important and definitely important in today’s world.


How I found my sandwich placement – James Thompson on BA Advertising


Initially when I started looking for my placement back in December 2014, I was sending out generic emails that showed no personality – likewise on my CV, just grades and irrelevant work experience. This then led to a situation where by July of 2015 I still had not secured anything.

Despite doing many interviews and a few assessment days at big companies/agencies I found that I was always overshadowed by someone with some impressive work or had more experience. This was the time, in July 2015 that I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself I was going to start being proactive and give myself something to help me stand out. It needed to be something not only to impress – but also to be proud of.

There were 2 things then that I needed to really get the best out of my placement year (and to get a placement):
1.    Something to make me stand out on my CV
2.    Experience

I desperately needed something to make my CV stand out – so I rekindled a dream of mine from first year in manufacturing and selling my own skateboards for a small profit. I went through the legal processes with HM Revenue & Customs and I am now the proud Owner and Founder of Marquis Skateboards as a Sole Trader. I have a couple of prototypes I have made however I have not begun going fully into production yet. I have set up the digital framework I need to jump into it once I can start making the boards (I need reliable sunny weather to make them outside … clearly the UK is a great place to do that…). This alone made me suddenly way more interesting and more of a personality when my future employers were reading my CV. (Website in development – for future reference

In terms of experience seeking, I took my sights off London and applied to some really local marketing agencies. With my business on my CV, lo and behold, within a week I was signed on for 2 weeks with an agency 5 minutes from my house called Serious Marketing Ltd – this was quickly extended to 1 month and then another month giving me 2 months of rich experience in Account Management and because the agency was small, I got a lot of responsibility very quickly.

Once my time with Serious Marketing Ltd was coming to an end – a colleague of mine there gave me a recommendation to this site called – on which many start up organisations are seeking interns for short spells of time. I sent out many applications but secretly wanted one much more than the others as it offered detailed SEO training – HouseTrip. Luckily, this was the one that seemed most interested in me as well – and here I am, a month and half later extending my contract at least until the end of January with one of my own created and managed content pieces live which you can see here. Additionally I have 2 more big content pieces I conceived and am managing myself. I already manage myself on a daily basis and have learnt invaluable skills around coding and knowledge regarding SEO.  Not to mention all of the connections I have made in London and the confidence that this has given me to really dive into my own projects. I’m also getting paid!

So my 5 tips would be:
1.    Be proactive
2.    Find something to set yourself apart
3.    Perhaps lower your big city aspirations as a means to obtain experience
4.    Use that experience to obtain those bigger aspirations
5.    Have confidence in your small ideas & make them a reality (in the workplace & outside of it)

James Thompson

SEO Executive at HouseTrip
Undergraduate BA (Hons) Advertising


Rock Shin on placement at Platinum Property Partners in Bournemouth

Where are you from?Rock 1

South Korea

Where is your placement  and what is your job title?

I’m working as a Marketing Assistant at Platinum Property Partners, located in the heart of Bournemouth.

Why did you choose this particular work placement?

I didn’t really fully appreciate what and how a sandwich placement could impact me and my future. At first I only saw it as an opportunity to add a bit of practical sizzle to my academic record but now I know that it is a wonderful chance to diversify my knowledge base, link my academic course to industry, which will play a vital part on my personal and professional development.

What do you think you have gained from undertaking a work placement (both in relation to your course and personally)?

First in terms of the relevance to the course, it was very helpful witnessing and also actually getting my hands on both the planning and execution of a marketing campaign, particularly in delivering a tailored message for the right target audience. Personally, working at a property investment company has helped me to better appreciate the importance of strategic planning, not only for my career but also for financial security. I have gained valuable insight that I will be able to apply.

In a nutshell, the level and quality of the experience I’m gaining from this placement year is absolutely above any previous expectations. The experience has, and will continue to, take me to another level of awareness for my personal and professional future.

What support have you received from BU when finding/while on your placement? In what way has this helped?

I found the CV/cover letter review sessions priceless. It was really helpful in making my CV simply look more professional, boosting my likelihood for being called up for an interview.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a work placement as part of their course?

The last thing you should do is to sit in a corner and cry after being declined for an interview or receiving a sorry letter after your interviews. If you didn’t get accepted to what you applied for, it is even better for you because it wouldn’t have been an ideal place for you anyway. So in a way it has drawn you closer to the job that you will absolutely love. Don’t despair, keep going.

3 words to sum up your placement so far

Life changing, Value changing, and Goal changing

Faculty Placement Development Advisor Vianna Renaud at the NUE Awards in London

It was with great pleasure that I attended the National Undergraduate Employability Awards in London last week. As a recent Trustee to the Executive Committee of ASET, the Work Based and Placement Learning Association, it was wonderful to see representatives from industry and UK institutions there to celebrate, and be celebrated, for their contributions to student placement success. Aset photo

While BU was not up for any awards this year, I have full confidence in our students to be up there on stage next year!

For a list of this year’s winners:

PR agency head returns to BU for Future of PR Skills & Talent talk

Rich FoggCCgroup Managing Director Rich Fogg is gearing up for a guest lecture with BU students on Wednesday, 1-2 pm, PG16 LT on The Future of PR Skills & Talent. Here he shares some of what he’ll be talking about:

This week (Wednesday to be precise), I’m leaving London PR company life behind and venturing down to Bournemouth University. I’m doing a guest lecture to the BA Public Relations course (my old degree) on the Future of PR Skills. It promises, I hope, to be one of the most challenging 60 minutes I’ll have this year.

It’s not the topic as such – keeping an eye on the rapid evolution of PR and the skills needed for success is fairly straight-forward (if time-consuming). It’s the questions I’ll get that’ll ensure I set record highs on my new heart rate monitor. Will a tech PR agency head like me be able to answer them?

Well, probably not. But who can?

That’s the point I suppose. The pace of change in PR is such that no one has all the answers. All I can really offer is the historical context, a range of contemporary thinking on skills, automation and initiatives and what I’d do if I were a graduate coming onto the job market in the next few years.

So that’s 30 minutes taken care of…I’ll have to hope for some great questions to round out the hour! No pressure BAPR…

CCgroup PR

First-year advertising students get ‘lost at sea’

First-year advertising students step out of the classroom environment for a problem solving challenge on their first year unit ‘Advertising Skillset’. LostAtSea

In the SportBU’s new studios, the students worked in small groups to choose and rank survival items they would need if ‘lost at sea’, shipwrecked and stranded on a lifeboat. Students needed to use individual decision making and problem solving skills, and then they had to compare their own rankings against the group. The goal was to help students understand and improve dealing with day-to-day issues, and to demonstrate that people can achieve much more when they solve problems and make decisions collaboratively. The intention was to also draw reference to working inside a media agency, whereby tackling client briefs, the outcomes are improved by working as a team.

LostATSea3The students tackled the brief by debating the highest and lowest priority items for survival, which were a selection of items ranging from floating devices, chocolate rations to fishing rods.

“The intention behind these sessions is to encourage students to consider and refine how they approach problem solving and decision making in a group; there is a lot of group work within the course and clearly this is a critical skill they need when they enter their placement year in industry,” said Programme Leader Jill Nash. “I also wanted students to consider how ‘groupthink’ can affect decision making, whereby a group places mutual harmony above the desire to reach the right solution. Stepping outside the normal classroom environment, and making the use of the fantastic studios we have here on campus, felt like the right way to go about this.”

She later added, “Skillset is a new unit for our students, and somewhat experimental, but we did identify that first years needed certain hard and soft skills developing, which could help them tackle their academic assignments as well as creative briefs and campaign ideas. The students were really involved and engaged in this style of learning, and we felt it was important to demonstrate that learning doesn’t just take place at a desk or in front of a screen.”

After everyone finished the exercise, the student teams were invited to evaluate and reflect the process to draw out their experiences. For example, the main LostAtSea2differences between individual, team and official rankings were, and why. This provoked discussion about how teams arrived at decisions, which will help students think about the skills they must use in future team scenarios, such as listening, negotiating and decision-making skills, as well as creativity skills for “original thinking.”