Here it goes, first blog and I don’t really know where to go with it but I’ll start by saying I’m currently writing this to avoid thinking about the dreaded dissertation! Week 4 and I still don’t know what I’m going to write 10,000 words on, surely I can’t be the only one?
Rewind to March 2018, a second year student competing with hundreds of others for an opportunity to take a year away from studying and get a taste of what it’s like to work in ‘the real world’. At this stage in the year many students have already secured their placements but me being me I put it off until almost the last minute. May quickly came around and I finally bagged myself a few interviews, only to be rejected! At this stage I was talking myself into forgetting about doing a placement year and moving straight into final year, sure it would mean graduating a year sooner than expected and being done with Uni, that doesn’t sound too bad? (or so I tried to convince myself)
The summer had well and truly started and I still didn’t know where I was going to be come September, meanwhile others in my class had already started their jobs, I spent the next 3 weeks checking my emails about 30 times a day hoping Conor would send a job ad that I liked the look of. To spare you all reading another paragraph of invaluable information about my hunt for placement, my lucky day came and after a successful interview I was offered a 12 month post with Tourism Northern Ireland, yay! So don’t panic, even if you think you have left it too late you still have a chance to get a good placement.
Day one, the 17th of September and as you can imagine I was as nervous as I had ever been, I was a student with no experience, how am I going to know what to do? What if they expect too much of me? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? How am I going to get up at 6am every morning for the next year and travel 45 miles to Belfast!?
First things first, if you are planning on taking a placement year I would HIGHLY recommend applying to Tourism NI, I couldn’t have asked for a better organisation to spend a year with. I joined the Social and Digital Marketing team and although I am studying a mainly PR focused degree I wanted something a little more marketing related, so this was perfect for me. Therefore if you can take anything from this, don’t limit yourself to what you apply for, if it’s not exactly what your degree title is and you think you could do it and meet the job requirements then go for it!
The team I worked in covered so much including looking after the Discover Northern Ireland website, consumer facing social media channels, digital partnerships and influencer marketing, data feeds, email marketing and visitor information along with all the general day to day admin. I think it’s fair to say that I got an excellent all round experience of all things digital marketing.
I had a lot of great experiences working with TNI but the highlight of the year has to be getting the opportunity to be involved ‘A Major’ (excuse the pun) sporting event in Northern Ireland. Unless you were living under a rock you will be well aware that The 148th Open was held at Royal Portrush in July and I got to spend a few days working in the TNI Marquee at the event – Not even our lovely Northern Irish weather could put a dampener on this!
I have 3 top tips for anyone who decides to do a placement.
- Network, Network, Network! You will come into contact with many people and other businesses throughout your time on placement so build as many relationships as you can with these people as you never know when these connections could be useful in the future.
- Don’t be scared to ask questions! We all like to pretend we know everything and don’t need any help, but the most important thing is if you are unsure about something no one is going to punish you for asking a question. After all a simple question is so much easier than putting extra pressure on yourself and trying to figure it out alone (This is something I wish I got into my head a lot sooner than I did).
- . Enjoy your year, take every opportunity and make a good impression.
Finally, after contemplating not taking a placement year I can now say I am so glad I did and I had the best year with Tourism NI. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity of doing a placement year as you will gain invaluable experience and meet some great people along the way. If you’re lucky enough to get into TNI, I hope your experience is as successful as mine was!
Back to thinking about the dissertation for me…
Megan Carton is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-carton-351485182/