As pupils across England and Wales receive their A-level results, Paige Davis, an aspiring marketer from Stoke-on-Trent, offers insight into gaining work placements and internships and advice on how to make the most of them in order to gain entry to university.
College students aren't getting the work experience they need, alongside their a-level results, to prepare them for university. Even with students' 'work for free' selling point, no one’s hiring.
Or at least that’s how it seems to me.
Being an A2 marketing college student, I am eager to become a professional marketer, but with no marketing experience to be found anywhere university places are proving difficult to grasp, even with the right grades.
When I did finally obtain an internship, the experience really drove me away from the amateur mark, and helped me towards sealing my desired university place.
This is an experience that all students need as placements are getting more competitive. To those reading this in a similar situation, get ahead of the game, and learn from my experience.
However, getting work experience is no walk in the park.
Before I gained any experience I sent out over 20 emails to the top results in Google Maps' “marketing agencies in Stoke-on-Trent”. Most of the firms I contacted either didn’t reply, or turned me down - including my own college.
The reality is that most agencies don’t have the time, work or facilities to take any students on. But students need to gain work experience as good references are vital for nailing down highly sought-after university places. Students need work experience in order to get a taste of reality of working life.
When I did my five-week internship, it was like I’d entered another world. I had to quickly learn and meet deadlines, set tasks, strategies, and objectives, that were expected in the field of work I wanted to pursue.
This wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced from college. My internship seemed to be a wake-up call of real life that I desperately needed.
At one point, I was writing up an SEO article while serving everyone coffees.
However, in return, my placement made me ready to excel in my chosen university course, gaining an insight into what my career would actually be like.
The top four skills that I gained from my work experience to get to university were:
1. Whatever the task, just do it
Make a brew or two. Offer to complete the smallest job, as this will lead to bigger jobs.
I aimed to display enthusiasm for doing the simplest of tasks, including making all the team tea, or writing up written documents etc.
Boring? I know - but your managing director will appreciate your motivation and commitment, opening up even more opportunities within your internship.
2. Never give up
Stick to it, as no else is going to do the job for you. You must go out and earn it.
Remember the art of multi-tasking? I got involved within every project, task and deadline I could get my hands on. The second I was done, I asked for another job.
Don’t waste your internship by sitting at your desk and twiddling your thumbs; seek out your colleagues for more work, as this will make opportunities happen.
Your enthusiasm to work alone will help create excellent references that are vital for university.
Be a team player! You’re going to be spending a good few weeks with professional marketers, within your internship, therefore use it to your advantage.
Your team are your living resources to obtain vital intellect, contacts and advice for your further growth.
This advances your skills, knowledge and career within the marketing industry.
4. Free service
This can be off-putting, and doesn’t get you any closer to owning an iPad mini.
I went for a voluntary internship, not a paid one. This reduced a lot of pressure, allowing me to produce my best work, making me enjoy my internship even more.
In return, a large portfolio of my work for my university reference paid off on its own.
Students these days need to pull the ‘free labour’ card, as it gets you to where you want to be.
Whatever the task, the hours, the client, I always stuck to it and I never gave up.
In return, I gained even more skills on the university course I wanted to pursue. Such as:
• Knowing what a client wants and needs
• Coming up with new ideas
• Thinking outside the box
• How to write to a PR standard
• Using promotions/branding/social media tools
• Working as a team/ with clients
My last piece of advice to all students is: when you do receive the opportunity to have any sort of work experience, grab it with both hands. Even if that means triple the amount of the coffees you drink or have to make while there.
If you’re willing to put in the long hours, 100 per cent effort and enthusiasm into both getting work experience, and your placement, then getting that key reference to get into university will be easier to grasp.
You can follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeDavishome