Monday, 21 February 2011

Guess my job

Ever since I started at Willoughby almost six years ago, I have been involved in student career and networking events and have taken responsibility for offering a lucky few the change to experience public relations first hand. I believe there is such value in investing time in meeting the potential PR practitioners of the future, be it for five minutes at a speed networking event, taking part in a guest lecture or participating in a mentoring scheme.

The key strength of my degree course at BCU was the chance to meet with professionals and the impetus given to securing work placements. Opportunities such as these can be hard to come by but if agencies don’t offer support through work experience or becoming involved in student skills initiatives such as the excellent B-Hive work placement scheme, how can you expect future job applicants to have a firm grasp of PR and what the job entails?

That’s why I went to a ‘Guess My Job’ careers event last week, run by BXL (a not-for-profit charity that aims ‘to advance the education of the public by the provision of advice and guidance in relation to careers, training and personal development opportunities’). Together with a policeman, fireman, care worker, business improvement manager and other varied professionals, this event was to show year nine students (aged 13 to 14) the variety of jobs available and give them the chance to discover what skills they would need to follow any of these paths.

I felt that a PR Account Director would be one of the most difficult things to guess, particularly as it can be difficult enough to describe what we do ourselves let alone to teenagers whose experience of PR is limited to Max Clifford (shudder).

However, I discovered that during the six classes, my props were often unnecessary (I armed myself with my address book, notepad, phone and a stack of magazines and coverage). Whilst not knowing what PR was specifically, many of the students managed to deduce my job with ideas such as ‘you put together ideas and sell these to the press’ and ‘you promote a product or service through the media’. Alright, it’s not completely on the money, but it was encouraging to see that PR wasn’t a completely foreign concept to them.

Some of the other professionals taking part even seemed to have job envy (I shameless named dropped a little to get the students onside) and the feedback has been very positive indeed. According to BXL, most of the students gave the session at least nine out of 10, and one student even said it was the best day of year nine so far -praise indeed!

It was a fun and eye-opening event to be a part of and it hopefully gave a unique insight into a range of professions, including the weird and wonderful world of PR, and I encourage others to consider ways in which they too can help support the professionals of tomorrow.

BHive 2011: For those driven students who want to get ahead in PR, as well as the other creative industries of marketing, advertising, graphic design and web design, I urge you to enter B-Hive this year for your chance to win paid for work experience with top agencies such as ours. Submissions are due by 7th March.


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