Written by Guest blogger
Full name: Balint Brunner
Course: BA (Hons) Public Relations
What was your placement: Internal Communications & Community Engagement Assistant
What made you want to undertake a placement?
Public relations is a very fast-paced industry, so I found it crucial to get some experience as part of my degree. I loved the idea of combining my studies with ways in which I can apply my knowledge straight away. What’s more, placements are a great way to build a valuable network of connections, and to get some feedback on your practical skills!
Why that particular role and organisation?
What attracted me most about the role was that it straddled two distinct disciplines of communications. In Internal Communications, I found myself reaching tens of thousands of Airbus employees across the UK through a variety of digital and traditional channels – from acclaimed engineers to blue-collar aircraft fitters. In Community Engagement, I proudly represented Airbus across Wales and beyond, working on numerous community projects and developing contacts with local media.
But the company itself was also an attractive choice. Airbus is a well-known brand with an incredibly fascinating product range and some world-leading research. Working under the Commercial Aircraft division, I found it very interesting that most of my work was aimed at raising the company’s profile in the area and building a strong fan base, not at marketing any products. After all, you wouldn’t buy a $450-million double-decker aeroplane because of a tweet!
What sort of roles and responsibilities did you have during your placement?
My daily duties included managing community requests, reporting on our press coverage, and managing some of our most important internal communication channels. I often wrote articles for the company intranet, developed content for our corporate TV system, and organised community visits to the manufacturing areas. But on top of all this, I got to support lots of high profile community engagement activities, and got involved with a variety of exciting campaigns aimed at our employees.
What was the best thing about placement?
What I loved about the job is that I got to spend a lot of my time outside the office. A lot of my work required me to go around our manufacturing areas, exploring the site and getting to know hundreds of engineers and operators.
I also spent time driving around the North Welsh countryside, facilitating Airbus-sponsored activities at local primary schools and representing the company at various events in the area – or even abroad!
What are you most proud of having achieved?
As Airbus is a key supplier of our Royal Air Force, their 100th anniversary was a pretty big deal for the company! I was commissioned to plan and deliver all internal communications around the topic for all Airbus sites in the UK. Above all, this meant I got to interview our very own RAF reservists and veterans to create engaging content – something I really enjoyed. I worked closely with external agencies, as well as our colleagues at Airbus’ helicopter and defence manufacturing sites across the country. The result was a long-running interview series which engaged a surprising number of employees at Airbus.
What did you learn through completing the placement?
By undertaking this placement, I began to realise just how diverse my profession is, and that it’s worth exploring as many different sectors as possible. When I started studying PR, I would never have thought I’d find myself at a gigantic wing factory, chatting with engineers about aircraft manufacturing. But there I was, expanding my knowledge of a fascinating industry and taking every opportunity to dig into the details. You never know what the future holds… Perhaps I’ll settle at a food retailer, a health charity, or back in the aerospace industry – and I’ll learn all about their sectors with the same passion and interest.
Do you think it will help you with the rest of your degree and, ultimately, your career?
Definitely! The role required me to always keep on top of my workload, use my own initiative and manage my customers’ expectations. These are vital skills for any future role, whether that be in-house or at a PR agency. I also got to practise writing for and engaging a variety of groups, from top management through aircraft fitters to journalists – or even schoolchildren!
What advice would you give to any BU students who are looking for a placement or about to start?
My single biggest advice for the placement search would be to build up your ‘personal brand’. Make sure your CV, your cover letters, your LinkedIn profile and everything else tell the same story about you. Find your niche – and exploit it! What skills are you most proud of? Why not put them at the centre of your personal brand? This way you’ll be credible, professional and easy to remember.
Tell me how the Global Talent Programme has influenced your placement experience?
Airbus is a transnational company, and so I had to work closely with colleagues all around the world. I even had the pleasure to represent my site at an event in Munich and paid a visit to Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse, France. Even at a local level, it was fascinating to represent a manufacturing plant situated right on the Welsh-English border, where I had to consider my customers’ strong attachment to their respective nations.
The Global Talent Programme at BU has taught me that employability and mobility are the two essential qualities for a successful global career. Airbus prides itself on its multicultural nature and has a clear message amongst its corporate values: we are one. This global mindset encouraged me to break down geographical boundaries and maintain a close working relationship with my colleagues in France, Germany, Spain and beyond. I think our skillset and ways of working complemented one another really well, and I was determined to exchange and adopt ideas to build a powerful global skillset.