I’m currently studying Communication Management and Public Relations BSc (Hons) and have just approached week 8 of the dreaded final year, a stage that I never thought I could successfully (ish) reach and now plan and hope to successfully *touch wood* complete.
Throughout my whole university career I always said that I was 100% going to complete a placement year before going in to final year because it seemed to be the ‘norm’ thing to do, even though in CMPR it is optional whether you complete one or not. As I got further into second year I began to hear the words ‘placement’, ‘job adds’, ‘CVs’, ‘cover letters’ and so on more and more as well as hearing my friends and others around me talking about where they had applied to and what interviews they had coming up and subtly I ignored it all until exam season approached out of nowhere and that’s when panic struck, hard. I didn’t even know where to begin getting organised or where to start looking.
I ended up getting in contact with the company Jago Communications, a PR agency in Belfast City Centre. I went for an interview meeting with the company’s Managing Director Shona Jago and Communications Manager Fiona Hanna. Fiona presented a PowerPoint in one of our lectures in second year about the company and what they had to offer (so go to your guest lectures folks, the can actually be very useful!). I was then offered a month long internship in Jago, I started in June after my exams and didn’t look back, I loved it and all of a sudden 1 month turned into 4 and I continued to work with them until the bitter end and I had to go back to uni and start final year, hitting the ground running.
When working with Jago I was threw into the working world of PR and was trusted to do jobs I didn’t think I was ready for or never thought or expected to be doing. People hear the word ‘Internship’ and think ‘oh that’s just making tea and coffee or printing things out all day..’ it’s absolutely not (as long as you get in with the right company that care about the future of PR and upcoming graduates and want to provide you with the necessary experience you’ll need once you graduate). My summer internship gave me the opportunity to be able to see what working hands on in PR is actually like, giving me the chance to explore and figure out if I really enjoy that field of work which involved things such as being able to produce actual press releases that were then published in newspapers.
The internship allowed me to take part in jobs, produce work, and experience different opportunities that I would’ve also experienced if I had taken a placement year. I even got my own company headshot (check me out, big girl now), that’s when you know you’re getting old and will soon have to let go of your fresher like university ways that you’ve been living for the past 3-4 years :-(.
It allowed me to network and connect with other professionals and clients of the company which will be hugely useful for me in the future. Being involved with the hardworking, fast paced and positive team that is Jago, and being able to see actual success and results from that hard work has just made me more determined and eager to work in a team and field like that in the future (hence the title of this blog, hopefully).
Anyway, moral of the story here is that you absolutely do not and should not follow the crowd or do what all of your friends are doing or worry about not graduating with your friends, one worry which I dwelled on far too much. Do what you think will be best for you and you might find yourself in a position you never thought you would be in and one that worked out for the better!
After all, here I am starting final year without a placement year but still holding proper experience, knowing what to expect for the big bad working world ahead of me. Wish me luck! I’ll need it..
Claire Kearney is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-kearney-835a68165 ; Instagram @claire_kearney ; Twitter @Claire_Kearney ; Facebook https://www.facebook.com/claire.kearney.98