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This is a guest post from current student Emma Brooks studying BA (Hons) Marketing Communications

My name is Emma, I’m a BA (Hons) Marketing Communications undergraduate and I’ve recently completed my placement year – wow what a year it’s been!

I have been on the road  touring the country as an event manager promoting the release of a new series for Netflix. This is an opportunity that I never thought I would get through my placement, so I feel like now is a good time to reflect on everything that I have learnt over the past year.

The start of my journey wasn’t too hard but at the time it felt impossible. I thought I’d never get a placement I’d enjoy and I continuously feared rejection. After falling at the first few hurdles, I thought my dreams had come true when I got to the final interviews for Apple. I was so hopeful that this would be the one, because let’s be honest Apple would have looked great on my CV. But that dream soon got shattered when I received a very polite rejection letter a few days later. Thankfully, I then stumbled across an events agency advertising through BU. Events had always intrigued me, despite doing a marketing communications degree, so I thought I’d give it a go. After two sets of interviews, which I felt like I slightly blagged due to not having really worked in events before, I was over the moon when I received an offer letter from Hel’s Angels (based in London) and the start of my placement journey began.

During this past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with a huge variety of brands such as Aperol, Krispy Kreme, Heinz and Huawei, just to name a few. I became the account executive for Benefit Cosmetics during my final few months, which as a cosmetic junky was a dream come true. I loved (almost) every minute of my placement and one key thing I learnt was that working for a big-name brand such as Apple isn’t always as great as it sounds. Yes, having Apple on my CV would have looked amazing but I never would have had the same opportunities and responsibility in a large corporate environment.

Now, why did I say almost every moment? Because placement is hard. I have been working since I was 14 so I thought I had a strong work ethic and I was ready to take on the real world. But nothing prepares you for the emotional and mental strain that moving to a new city and working 10-12 hours a day has on you. Don’t get me wrong I really did enjoy my placement year, but it definitely wasn’t a walk in the park. It has been a huge year of learning for me and I’m so thankful I had this year before I left university.

I learnt and improved many skills during my placement, but I think the most important skill that I learnt is the importance of planning and time management. Let’s be honest, this is something that most students are awful at, despite what we say in our cover letters. We love leaving assignments to the last minute and procrastinating with the latest Netflix series. But I learnt very quickly that sticking to a time plan is vital when working in events. My communication skills also saw a huge improvement, which is helpful seeing as I’m doing a communications-based degree. In my opinion, you cannot learn how to build business relationships until you’re in a business environment. Nowhere else in life teaches you about email politics and the social etiquette when you’re in a communal kitchen. This all may sound quite petty but if you want to keep good relationships with clients and the businesses you share an office space with then you learn that these things do matter.

What advice would I give to someone looking for a placement? Keep your options open, look in fields you’re interested in as well as the field your degree is based in. There is nothing wrong with widening your skill set and you could discover a new industry that you love which you may have never thought about before starting university. Also, be prepared to make mistakes. You will learn more in your placement year than in any other year at university and sadly that does mean that you’ll get things wrong. But that’s not a bad thing, when you’ve done it wrong once you won’t do it again!

Find out more about studying BA (Hons) Marketing Communications

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