Perks of Placement Year

As a Sheffield Hallam University student studying Public Relations, I was faced with a choice in my second year that many students have to consider; to go on placement, or not to go on placement.
Taking a year out to do placement means graduating a year after all of your friends, potentially having to live alone in a new city, and yet another year of tuition fees. Placement was also not a compulsory element of my course. Despite all these factors, to me, it seemed a no brainer to go for it.
Research shows that without work experience, 52% of graduate employers rate chances of a job offer as ‘not very likely’, proving that a good degree is no longer enough to stand out. To be a step ahead, graduates are expected to have had hands on experience within the industry.
Being on placement at Smoking Gun PR has allowed me to acquire skills that simply cannot be taught in a lecture theatre. I have worked across a number of different client accounts, all of which are in different sectors ranging from fitness to charities, building relationships with both clients and key media, that I would not have had the opportunity to do had I chosen not to take a placement year. I’ve attended training sessions with various industry bodies, including the PRCA and AMEC, which have allowed me to broaden my skills and given me the chance to quiz some industry experts face to face. Events I’ve attended range from Les Mills Live, a festival attended by 2,000 fitness fans, to a cricket game at Lancashire County Cricket Club that involved a lucky winner watching the match from a Silentnight bed, accompanied by myself in the infamous Hippo costume.
Studying at Sheffield Hallam has provided me with essential academic and theoretical skills which I will continue to build on in my final year, but here at the agency I’ve had the opportunity to work with an incredible team of professionals who have taught me almost everything I know. The team at Smoking Gun is a mixed bunch, as alongside some seasoned PR professionals there is an array of experience including broadcast journalism and time spent in the music industry – and I’ll be taking something away from every individual, be it writing skills or tips on liaising with the media.
Although my time at Smoking Gun is soon coming to an end, I will be leaving with a first hand understanding of the industry, and the knowledge that I’m prepared for working life after university.

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