Have you ever thought about PR son?

Nick Bird  – Account Director at Spreckley

Sitting in a Pizza Express just outside of Reading, having watched England fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championships doesn’t sound like the setting for a career defining moment.

As I sat there watching a pathetic looking England boss Steve McClaren standing dejectedly on the side lines of Wembley with the face of a man knowing his diary was likely to become a lot less busy in the morning, I also was suffering my own professional woes. I had just been made redundant from an administrative position working for a large restaurant group – at the time I can’t say I was too displeased, but it did leave me at a bit of a crossroads. At the age of 25 I literally didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Then my father uttered the immortal words, which would arguably have the most profound impact on my professional life…

“Have you ever thought about public relations son?”

As part of my degree in International Hospitality Management one of my course subjects focused on marketing and promotions. It was always something that appealed to me and combined with my personal interest in current affairs and the media, I could see where the comparisons with PR – albeit loosely – could be drawn. So in light of my Dad’s question I thought, why not act on that interest. Having had no previous experience I knew my chances of getting a job, even at entry level, would be slim. I know I needed experience so I decided to actively look for agencies offering internships. I then managed to secure a position at a large global agency working in the corporate communications team. The experience I received working at this agency was fantastic – I was given a real life insight into what the working world of public relations looked like, with exposure to a variety of areas including content creation, media relations and account structure and management. Even though I was only there for just over two months, the experience has proved invaluable to my professional development and has provided me with the foundations that has led me to where I am today – for that I am internally gratefully and am keen to give the same back through our own internship scheme we have created at Spreckley.

Internships are a fantastic opportunity to gain real-life experience and transferable skills within a chosen profession. As an employer, one of the first things we look for on a CV is experience; a person can have a multitude of degrees and accreditations to their name, and while that is impressive, the thing that stands out most is their real-life experience.

Whether it’s two weeks shadowing an exec in an office or a year’s university work placement, having that experience demonstrates to an employer that you are able to back up what you have learnt in the classroom within a professional environment. You can provide real-life examples of projects and clients you’ve worked on and demonstrate on-the-job skills you have obtained.

At Spreckley we have formed a working relationship with Kingston University offering students the opportunity to participate in a six-week internship programme designed to give a first-hand experience into the day-to-day operations of a busy PR consultancy working on everything from event planning to securing news coverage in leading magazines and national newspapers. We also actively participate in graduate recruitment days at the university offering advice to students on what to expect from a career in PR. The results of this relationship are already starting to bear fruit.

Manuella Haddad, an Account Executive within our healthcare team, joined us last summer as part of our internship programme. Her diligence and professionalism immediately impressed us and when an opportunity arose for a position in our consumer and healthcare team we had already seen enough to know she was a perfect fit. Eight months on and recently promoted, she is really flourishing and we couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved since joining us. None of this would have been possible without her willingness to participate in our internship programme and based on my own experiences I can’t express enough my own gratitude for the opportunities I received. For those unsure, all I say is give it a go; you might even make a career out of it!

If you are interested in participating within the Spreckley internship programme, please feel free to drop us a note at bird@spreckley.co.uk