This week, PR Account Director Verity Clarke, was invited back to university to share her career experience with the latest graduates from Leeds Beckett University.
The results were astonishing, here is Verity’s feedback on why giving back is so rewarding…..
I met Senior Lecturer Robert Minton-Taylor in the reception of the impressive Rose Bowl building and with a familiar flutter of butterflies that public speaking awakens in me, we headed to the room with around 15 international students of business waiting to hear a talk on PR.
It was difficult to stop my internal monologue from complaining at me……Am I really doing this to myself again? Standing in front of an audience of strangers talking about myself? I was only at university 10 minutes ago (ahem) so what value can I give to students?
Here at Approach PR we are passionate about supporting future PR practitioners and I personally get tremendous value from working closely with placement students who always turn into trusted friends.
Given this positive experience of working with students and still having fresh memories of graduating with no clue of what to do next, I have found myself (much to the annoyance of my internal monologue) putting my hand up and offering to speak about my own experiences at any given opportunity.
Which is why, yet again, I’m stood in front of a room of people with a two hour time slot stretched in front of me.
I started off by introducing Approach PR because although we are proud of our own achievements in 14 years of business, we’re not as well-known to students as the larger agencies in Leeds centre.
I spoke about my role as an Account Director and what an average day looks like in the PR world (this can be difficult to explain when I haven’t had an “average day” in my eight years at Approach) and highlighted the skills that I need on a daily basis.
Next I spoke about our Junior Account Executive, Leeds Beckett PR student, Rebekha White and her experience over the past eleven months…….Cue gasps of astonishment…..How could a placement student make such an impact on an agency?
As a small team our placement student is a vital asset and really does make a contribution to the growth and success of the business, Rebekha has been no exception with her highlights including:
– gaining five pieces of front page coverage
– creating new business presentations that has impressed, delighted and brought in income
– running six social media accounts
– being on first name terms with our regional journalists
Telling Rebekha’s story really inspired the students, it helped them visualise where they could be in just a few months’ time with a little experience under their belt.
I finished the lecture by explaining how very important relationships are. How your network is your currency and how you should never burn a bridge because what goes around, really goes around!
I feel like my words resonated because within the last week I’ve had some really wonderful feedback, so without sounding like an Oscar speech I would like to thank the following:
– Michaella Biscomb also for her great blog post
– Namakau Mukelabai for the personalised email who found it “interesting, enlightening and engaging”. Yayra Avorgbedor also emailed to say “your talk was a very insightful one and I am grateful I was a part of it”
– Thanks also for the Tweets from Lynn Rohwer and Kelly Scotney – much appreciated
– Robert Minton-Taylor was a fantastic host and gave me incredible feedback. It was interesting to hear that we had similar experiences about building vital relationships
For me the lecture was a “feel the fear and do it anyway” moment because although I don’t mind public speaking, I’d prefer the subject to be about anything other than me.
The session gave me an incredible buzz, it was great to know I had inspired the students and it also felt cathartic to say the things I wish someone had said to me in my twenties.
So I do urge anyone, from any career background, to consider sharing your own career high and lows with the next generation. Not selling but telling. Your story may be more powerful than you think.