Proving that change can be a good thing, a new module began in January 2017 for English and Creative Writing students. Students now have a fantastic opportunity to apply for a Professional Skills module in their second year, during which they complete 80 hours working for an organisation.

Cara Dudgeon successfully applied for a placement at British American Media as an Editorial Assistant. We spoke on her final day on placement about the experience.

Why did you choose the Professional Skills module?

I chose the module because I don’t have any experience in the arts and we’ve been told how important it is to have some experience, especially for post-graduation because of how competitive jobs are. I thought it was a really good opportunity to do it within University.

What work experience had you done before this?

Before this, I had no professional work experience – just lots of retail work and I worked in a B&B as a cleaner. That’s why I wanted to do this module – it’s a whole new environment working in an office compared to e.g. a shop. It’s more relaxed than I expected and everyone gets along really well in the team.

What type of work have you done on your placement?

I’ve been writing articles – for the website and for one of four guides BA Media publish each year. I have been writing for the Leaver’s Guide, targeting 16-18 year olds – for example whether they should choose University or take an apprenticeship.

For the website, I wrote for the Students’ Guide – I’m currently writing one on new music releases. Last week I wrote one on National Bed Month, the best way to get a good night’s sleep which is obviously important for a student!

What have you enjoyed most about the placement?

I’ve just enjoyed being here – finding out what it’s like to work in an office environment, working to a deadline and working within a team to a specific deadline as well. It is so different – I’ve never done anything like this before.

What has been most challenging?

Getting an article brief which I have no idea about! For example, I had to write a 6 page spread on apprenticeships within the arts and media, and as I haven’t been an apprentice I don’t know a lot about them. I had to research all the different types of apprenticeships. That was quite challenging.

What skills have you improved during your placement?

My communication skills have improved. Also teamwork, working to a deadline, research skills – i.e. finding the right information and then drawing out the specifics that you need. My computer skills have improved as well – on my first day, I was told they were now working on Google Drive so I had to use this for the work. I ended up using this for my placement log as well in the end, so it’s been a great transferable skill.

Do you think you have had a positive impact on the organisation?

I think they’ve enjoyed having a few ideas from me – as I am working on a 16-18 demographic I’m closer to that age, so I’ve been able to make useful suggestions.

Would you recommend taking a Professional Skills module?

Yes I would recommend it. It does broaden your knowledge about what it’s like to work in the arts sector. It is hard work, as it is a day out of University so you have to work your way around that and make sure you are punctual. I’ve applied for another placement for the summer and feel better prepared for this. I’ve also gained a reference from this experience which I think will increase my employability.

– Sarah Hughes, Placements Officer