MPAD – My Work Experience Placement

A fortnight ago I was lucky enough to have a week’s work experience at a local communications agency that specialises in marketing, public relations, advertising and graphic design; hence, the name: MPAD.  I had such an amazing time, as those who follow me on twitter will already know, that I thought I would share what I went through in more detail and can hopefully encourage more students to seek work placements and to encourage firms to take on more interns.

My request for work experience actually started back in Easter 2010.  I first contacted MPAD during the spring of 2010 to try and arrange a work placement for that summer, but unfortunately this was not sufficient notice for the agency.  If you are thinking about applying for a placement you need to apply very early – to have a placement for this summer I contacted the company about six or seven months in advance.  These types of firms are very busy and hard working, with lots of requests from students wanting experience, so you need to get plan ahead if you want a chance of a placement.

To put this into perspective, while I was working a member of staff at MPAD briefly mentioned that they get enough work experience requests to have at least one intern in the office all year-round!

After applying early, and patiently waiting for the summer, I was finally able to start my week.  Here is what I got up to:

Monday – cleaning out the office, a music festival marketing brief and competitor analysis.  A bit of spring cleaning was actually a great ice-breaker and shows that during your placement you may have to do tasks that may not seem relevant.  But they do provide a great chance to show enthusiasm and willingness to work.

Tuesday – Facebook page copy-writing and gathering quotes for a client’s Twitter feed, competitor analysis, copy-writing and planning for a client’s website and more copy-writing for event banners.  Here is where the work started to get a little more serious.  Although I only contributed a little, here is the Facebook page I worked on.  Also, here you can see the webpage I did the copy-writing for.

Wednesday – writing press releases for an outdoor cinema screening series and for a play.  This was actually great fun and amazing to think that during the summer my press releases will hopefully be printed out in the local newspapers generating publicity for these events; this made me realise that in the future PR is something I want to become more involved with.

The surprising amount of independence given to interns can be really seen here: I was quickly briefed on how to write a press release and given some examples, but MPAD were very much expecting me to use my own ideas and creativity to produce something that clients would actually pay for.

Thursday – copy-writing for MPAD’s own website, sat in on a client meeting and then generated potential ideas for their PR campaigns and another press release.  It is important that when you are working on projects for actual customers you try your best to do a good job; not only because this is a really company trying to make a profit, but because it can encourage more the firm to give you more challenging work and responsibility. For example, they were happy to give me an extra press release to write and to help them out on their own website.

I also got a chance to attend a meeting.  It was surprising how client-driven the session was: the managing director at MPAD was essentially helping the clients realise what their business needs and what they, as a client, want – rather than simply dictating to the clients on how to run their own company.

Friday – completed the work for MPAD’s website and was cold-calling magazine publishers to generate interest in running potential features focused on our clients.  Firstly, today I was working with a graphic designer to get a better understanding of how copywriters and graphic designers need to work together to ensure that completed work, such as leaflets, has a good fit between the text and layout and other visual aspects.  We took my work I did on the website from yesterday and published these webpages: Dash Drive Vehicle Rental, Event Cornwall , The Outdoor Screening Season and WH Bond

In the afternoon it was quite a fun and an interesting challenge to ring other businesses and speak to someone down the phone.  It required a little bit of courage!

Overall it was a great week and I really learnt some practical skills that have truly boosted my confidence – the people I met were also amazing.  It was a struggle, however, fitting in my running around working the nine ’till five each day.  I actually missed out on sleep as I had to get up at five in the morning a few times and run twice in one day. So be prepared to work hard!

But, just because the week has officially ended, does not mean that any intern on a placement should suddenly loose contact with the firm they worked for.  I have already spoken about doing future work from home during the summer months – they are too busy to keep me on for longer – and possibly return to the office this winter or next Easter.

It is also a great idea to keep track of all the work you completed during the week so you can see the finished work once it has been published, approved by clients or when an event takes place.  For this I highly recommend writing down everything you complete each day and keeping in touch with your placement firm through Twitter or other forms of social media.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 28/06/2011

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