BSc Management and Marketing student Karolina Szpigiel details the invaluable experience she gained during her placement year as a Marketing Executive with Greater Anglia. From creating promotional material for Sundown Festival to stepping in to help during train strikes, she says the benefits of doing a placement year are endless and will give her ‘the extra leg up’ when it comes to applying to graduate roles.
Since completing her placement year, Karolina has continued to work parttime for Greater Anglia as a Marketing Assistant.
Entering university in 2019 I didn’t have a placement year on my radar. After hearing about the opportunities a placement year provides, and doing some research in
I learned a great amount of skills specific to marketing: how to use the CMS (the content management system) for the Greater Anglia website; social media marketing for Facebook and Instagram; working with a variety of partners on promotional activity; traditional marketing at train stations through posters and customer information screens; various elements of branding and working with brand guidelines and working with agencies.
I also learnt about the railway industry. I never had any idea about how it really works and the various components that bring it all together. How the railway works was so fantastic to learn as it really is so much more than just a train service.
I was also very lucky to have Greater Anglia sign me up for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Digital Marketing course, which was super informative and massively helped me with my knowledge.
Importantly, I learned a variety of transferable skills. I had to be versatile, for example when the rail industry was daunted with rail strikes from front line colleagues, the head office workers including myself were trained to support the running of train services during strike days. That’s when I trained to be a train dispatcher alongside my day-to-day job in marketing! During strike days I then worked as a frontline colleague dispatching trains at London Liverpool Street station, it was so different to anything I have done so far but it was amazing to meet a variety of colleagues from other departments who I hadn’t had the chance to meet yet. Also, getting to experience what our frontline colleagues do every day really helped to get to know the business in and out.
Other things I learnt included: communicating professionally with colleagues and those outside the organisation; time management when managing several tasks and projects at the same time; collaboration with the team and I learnt how important it is to ask for help when it is needed! It really taught me to never be afraid to ask for help from senior colleagues and understand that we are all here to help each other. But I also really developed working independently as my confidence and knowledge grew.
My favourite project was working with the Sundown Festival on promotional activity via station posters and social media. We collaborated on running a joint giveaway on Instagram, giving away weekend festival tickets and train travel passes! It turned out to be super successful, achieving its objectives and generated lots of interest through entries to the competition. The project allowed me to use several skills I learnt during my placement, such as communicating and organising with external partners and social media marketing. I also got to go to the festival myself which was super fun.
I came back to uni feeling rather refreshed. I felt really ready to focus on my essays and get back into learning and the swing of education. It also really makes you appreciate having your own routine instead of a 9-5! But the placement year really prepares you for what’s after uni. Getting back in to essay writing was slightly difficult so it’s super important to keep engaged during the placement by completing the uni assignments on placement review.
EBS allows you to get an idea of various aspects of business. In first year you get insights into other areas, such as accounting or economics, so it really gives you the opportunity to see what aspect of business you most enjoy! It has also provided me with lots of theoretical knowledge on marketing, which helps to understand how or why the real world of business functions the way it does.
Do it! Make sure to do a lot of research into the company and industry you are considering. Company culture is just as important as anything else, I was so lucky to have a wonderful team who made me feel very welcome. So, make sure to ask your interviewers questions, it’s an opportunity to get to know each other, not just one sided. Remember when you graduate you will be competing with thousands of people for that job or that grad scheme you really want, a placement year not only shows you have knowledge and skills but also says lots about your character, you went above the ordinary standard to gain something extra! Also, you never know who you can meet on your placement or where you might end up because of it. You can gain amazing references or even future opportunities from the company. The benefits are endless.
Department at the University of Essex
We are Essex Business School. We champion responsible, ethical and sustainable business. From global corporations and the public sector, to SMEs, family businesses and start-ups, we’re interested in real-world business challenges.
Through our world-class research and teaching, we train our students to think critically about business and encourage them to make a positive impact on society. We want our students and alumni to feel empowered to shape the future world with the actions they take in the workplace. To use business as a power for good.
Natasha Ezeh, Essex Business School
14 November 2022
Essex Business School
26 May 2022
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