If entering my final year of university wasn’t daunting enough, being told I had to undertake compulsory work experience was even more of a nerve-wracking prospect. I’m studying Sports Journalism at the University of Gloucestershire and in that time, I’ve decided I’m not suited for the journalistic life in front of a camera or behind the microphone, I want to do something behind the scenes but that can still create a big impact. I have previously undertaken and enjoyed work experience at a newspaper but with the life of print journalism dwindling, my choices were growing ever slimmer. Last year, I was given a brief introduction to PR in a module at uni which ignited my interest and made me consider this as a potential postgraduate career route.
Looking at local PR companies that I could consider for work experience, Target really stood out. As soon as you click on the website you are greeted with a friendly photo of the team smiling and laughing, and that is the exact same vibe you experience when you are in the office. Their client portfolio and case studies were also impressive working with a wide range of businesses across lots of different sectors. They were easy to contact and were professional about their work experience policy, inviting me for an interview (which was more of an informal, relaxed chat) and asking me to do a short writing task. This process showed that they considered work experience to be a valuable part of the agency which excited me about what I would be trusted with doing in the week’s placement.
You are pre-warned before any work experience that you may just end up being the ‘tea-maker’ for a week and doing the odd jobs that nobody else wants to do, but that is not the case at Target! In fact, you get asked at least three times a day by another member of the team if you would like a cup of tea. You are also not made to ‘shadow’ anybody, I was given my own desk and space to work and my abilities were never questioned. I was trusted to write web articles, press releases, draft social media schedules, brainstorm fundraiser ideas and I even attended a client meeting on my first day. My first drafts weren’t perfect, but they were better than I expected. It was a few structural and style errors and learning how Target like to do things rather than any issues with my own capabilities. This reminded me that you should always believe in yourself!
I was sick with nerves on my first day, I didn’t want to leave the house, I was shy and in my shell. As soon as I got to Target’s office, all of that disappeared, helped by the fact that everyone was warm and welcoming. My confidence grew within the week and I gained so much knowledge and experience that nothing was worth worrying about in the first place.
I was concerned that I would get bored and tired working for 7.5 hours a day. University lectures are two to three hours long and sometimes I struggle to keep my focus in them, but as long as you come armed with a good night’s sleep, agency life is so varied that there is always something to spark your interest and keep you engaged. Before you know it, you feel like you’ve just sat down at your desk and it’s time to go home again.
Target is a small business, but the team is not to be underestimated. The work they do achieve and the impact they make is huge. One office of eleven people looks after the local and regional PR for 180 Specsavers stores alone, plus many, many more clients! The team is determined and hardworking and get a lot done in a day. They may be small but they are mighty.
Ultimately, this work experience has helped cement my passion for the industry and has given me direction and focus for my last year of university with the hope that one day I will end up working with a business and a team as lovely as the people at Target.