Written by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by current student Catherine Rushton studying BA (Hons) Public Relations.
Working in a luxury 5-star hotel in the heart of Kensington for a year was quite the experience! I managed to step inside the life of an affluent achiever and experience all of the benefits that come with it. However, this was not without a lot of hard work and some very long days.
On the 2nd of July 2018, I started my role as Marketing and PR assistant and from the get go I was given responsibilities an intern could only dream of. This was certainly the most satisfying aspect during my placement year. Overall, if I had to describe the year in three words, it would be valuable, worthwhile and most importantly… rewarding!
THINGS I LOVED…
As I mentioned, I was given a lot of responsibility from the moment I arrived. This role wasn’t your typical placement… It was a like any other job. I was not only given the freedom to express my own ideas, I was given the trust to execute them. Don’t worry I won’t bore you with all the details, but if you’d like to see some snippets, check out my LinkedIn profile or my online portfolio!
Also, one of my favourite things in life is food, and during my placement, I had the pleasure to ‘menu taste’ in all of the restaurants in the hotel, including London’s most authentic Chinese restaurant- Min Jiang (just one of the things I will dearly miss).
However, something I am incredibly proud of, is that my efforts during my time at the Hotel didn’t go un-noticed. After the successful launch of a new Afternoon Tea, a prosperous anniversary campaign for Min Jiang and positive ‘Reclaim Your Sunday’s’ promotional activity, I was nominated for ‘Distinctive Colleague of the Month’ and ‘Best New Comer 2018-19’… Something I will always cherish!
THINGS I STRUGGLED WITH…
Living and working in London by yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, Kensington is a beautiful borough and its amazing to have the hustle and bustle of London on your doorstep, but it can also be a little claustrophobic at times. Eventually I learned to get away from the city on the weekends, go out with my work colleagues where possible and just keep in touch with my friends. You’ll realise you need them more than you first thought you would!
HOW BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY HELPED ME…
If I had to describe my placement search in three words and honestly, it would be frustrating, eye-opening (in both senses of the word) and fulfilling.
Unfortunately I didn’t utilise the university as much as I could have, but the most helpful tool in my placement search was definitely MyCareer Hub. New job opportunities were constantly being uploaded to the platform, which made it easier to find and apply for a large pool of roles, rather than just a handful that you find on google. If I hadn’t had this platform, I don’t think my three words would have been half as nice…
It was however, during my placement that the university supported me the most. After my first review with Amy (my Placement Development Advisor), I was asked the question “What do you really want to gain from this experience?”… A question that I hadn’t even asked myself. I think it was at this point that I threw myself into my work, gained valuable employability skills and truly got the most out of my placement and for this I would like to thank her!
MY ADVICE TO YOU…
Firstly, start your placement search early and just apply for as many jobs as possible. I think all in all, I applied for around 50 placement roles before finding the Royal Garden Hotel. You need to remember that you are in competition with not just your course mates, but thousands of students across the country and abroad!
Secondly, your placement year is literally what you make of it, so use your initiative and try and make a difference in your role, regardless of your position!
Finally, have fun. As cringey as this sounds, you won’t have another opportunity like this again… where you can work for a year knowing you are going back to the Uni lifestyle (trust me you’ll miss it). So make friends, have a laugh and takes lots of photos!
Sian Walker, Marketing Manager at the Royal Garden Hotel’s reflections on Catherine Rushton’s role and placement students:
1) What has it been like having your placement student on the team:
It’s been an absolute pleasure having a placement student on the team. We treat them just the same as any other member of the Marketing Team – they join us as a Marketing Assistant, not an Intern. I am keen that any student that joins the Marketing Team leaves with new skills and experiences to help them in their future endeavours, but also to have that they have the confidence going into their future workplace that they are capable of doing a great job.
When you employ a student that appreciates the opportunity a placement presents them with – just like Catherine did, it can be very beneficial for both parties. We have an employee who is enthusiastic and wants to make a real impact in the 12 months they have with us, and we want to give them as many opportunities to do so.
2) As an employer would you rather see a short or long placement on a graduate CV, and why:
Personally, a long placement is preferable. When anyone starts a new position, student or not, the first few weeks are often spent learning and understanding more about the business before you can really get stuck in. Having a placement that’s long enough that you are able to contribute to the business and get real hands-on experience, in my opinion, is more valuable. It’s great to have experience on your CV, even if it’s just a couple of weeks, but if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do a 12-month placement, I would recommend you do.
3) What do you think students should focus on when applying for a placement:
The main focus when applying for placements should be how the experience is going to benefit either your studies or long term career goals. Your placement doesn’t need to be your dream job right now, it’s just a stepping stone to help you get there. Ask yourself if you are using your placement year wisely – don’t lose focus on why you are doing a placement in the first place.