The saying, “you get out what you put in” is never more appropriate than when thinking about University. A two year break showed me how much I missed education and I started my undergraduate PR degree in 2013 with a thirst for learning and a real desire to be there.
Fast forward three years and the opportunities I have had, really are pretty impressive – and whilst I haven’t particularly done anything beyond what the University offers for all students, my readiness to be back at University and my willingness to be committed and do well, has meant I have tried to grab opportunities with enthusiasm and continuously focus on my own personal development.
Adding talking points to my CV, whilst building a network of professional contacts has been a driving factor for me at University. As a student, you have the privilege (albeit mostly unpaid, but that’s another argument) to call up a company you fancy working with, and give it a go. Whilst some work experience and internships haven’t turned out to be all I wanted them to be, the things I have learnt and the people I have met have been incredibly invaluable. Internships have enabled me to develop my knowledge and explore the industries I want to work in and I have been lucky that my particular course promotes work experience so strongly. A couple of weeks here and there, a couple of days a week and a full sandwich year placement means I now have an enviable CV before I have even graduated and I am counting on those brand names and contacts to help me get a foot in the door in the job hunt.
Through the University, I have had the opportunity to study abroad too. I spent seven months in Australia during my second year, having a pretty good jolly of course, but also learning from incredible lecturers, experiencing different opinions and learning cultures and also having the opportunity to work on a small project with MC Saatchi in Sydney. I have built contacts, both professional and personal from countries around the world, I’m part of PR social groups in Australia, getting insider information about job opportunities – very handy for when we definitely make the move down under!
During a second year module, I had the opportunity to experience the challenge of working with students from across the world. I travelled to Malaysia (funded by the University I should add) to attend a global conference, present my ideas to leading industry experts and representatives from global brand, WWF. I have met with people from the University to talk about my experience and had the opportunity to deliver talks to students about my experience and advice. (Fantastic experience for someone who is keen to lecture one day!)
Our Global Communications Team winning second place in Borneo, Malaysia.
A final year project has enabled me to be in the same room as the leaders of PR, culture and tourism (a sector I am very keen to be a part of) before I have even graduated. My work is going to be of value as part of an exciting project for the city, something that may have taken me years, if ever, to accomplish without the University.
Guest lectures and key speakers have opened me up to a world of opportunity in the PR and business industry, introduced me to potential employees and enhanced my classroom learning. Listening to other peoples stories gives you perspective for how your own career can progress, lets you think about things a little differently and also shows you that even the most professional of professionals started somewhere.
Through the University, membership to professional organizations have enabled me access to a wealth of information, access to online courses and webinars to further my knowledge. I have attended networking events and annual meetings and learnt the value of professional bodies in my industry.
University has been a pretty bumpy ride. I’ve been disappointed, had many opposing views to lecturers and experiences – but I guess, looking back as graduation looms ever closer, I guess that’s all part of it. I have discovered things that I absolutely definitely do not want to do or be as a professional, and I have also met people who serve as role models and mentors. I have been overwhelmed and underwhelmed by assignments and deadlines and teaching methods, and there’s a million areas of improvement, but taking a moment in the middle of a hectic deadline week to reflect, it’s not been too bad at all.
But, back to my original point, I think your experience depends completely on your choices, your commitment and your drive to grab things by the balls. As I’m currently blurring my mind reading a tonne of literature, I reflect and think, I wish I’d have read more, I wish I’d have engaged more, I wish I’d have blogged more – I wish I would have committed to the fantastic PR Student blogging competition. I wish I had of had a go at being a course rep or been part of a society. But then, as a ‘slightly older’ student that never moved away from home, I have continuously balanced my home life with work and University, and you can’t do it all. Plus of course, there is no end game in Education – I can spend the rest of my life reading and blogging and engaging if I want to (and I do!).
I’m not sure what next year is going to bring, sometimes I’m excited to get into the world of work, but then I’m not done studying either. I want to do a masters, I want to study abroad again, I want to move abroad but I also want to get to work, work on exciting brands and projects with exciting people. It’s all a balancing act that I hope I will figure out, and it’s not easy to walk into any role these days, but I’m hoping that with an impressive CV of experiences thanks to my time at University, I stand a good chance.