10 February 2012
Lara Edwards, an English Literature and History
undergraduate at the University of Birmingham, completed a PR work
experience placement with us in July 2011. She advises potential
applicants that sticking to Octopus's core values can improve your
Astute - asking the right questions to get
the best answers
As an intern you want to project a confident and capable
image. There is a tendency therefore to pretend you completely
understand a task even if you don't have a clue what's going on.
Don't fall into this trap. Being inquisitive is great - it shows
you're engaging with the work and taking it seriously.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, whether you're unsure about a
task you've been set or if there's an aspect of PR you are keen to
learn more about. I soon learned Octopedes are passionate about
what they do so giving them a chance to chat about work isn't going
to be a problem!
Brave - not afraid of thinking big
It's vital to jump in at the deep end and make the most of every
opportunity. If something scares you about PR then aim to practise
that aspect the most.
So, if you lack confidence when talking on the phone then
prioritise pitching and selling in to journalists. If writing isn't
your strong point then ask if you can have a go at some press
Enthusiasm is the main quality that separates the great interns
from the average ones, so providing you remain positive when
tackling each task and are able to deal with constructive criticism
you will be absolutely fine. Early on in your placement you'll
realise that it's all a learning curve and mistakes are just part
of the process.
Together - life here is a team
One feature of Octopus that really made it stand out for me as
an agency is the team's strong identity and the company culture.
The agency is extremely inclusive and it feels as though each
member of the team is valued, no matter how junior they are.
PR agencies generally tend to be very social, so be sure to get
involved in any group events or after work drinks that are taking
place. Involving yourself in social events is crucial as it's a
fantastic opportunity to establish yourself as more than just
another intern and for your personality to shine through.
Socialising is one of the perks of PR so make the most of it! It
also reflects well on you if you're prepared to take the time to
get to know everyone rather than running out the door at
Hungry - forever wanting more for ourselves
and our clients
I don't think the word 'hungry' can be used in relation to
Octopus without mentioning cake. If there's anything I learnt from
my month at the agency it's that Octopedes love cake. So a word of
advice from me to you, if you're applying for a position here, a
sneaky mention of your love of baking or your delicious chocolate
cake that everyone raves about would definitely not go amiss.
On a slightly more serious note, I want to re-iterate my point
about integrating yourself with the team and getting involved with
every possible opportunity. Work placements are not very long so
make sure you put 100% into every piece of work you're set. Be
flexible with your time, and prepare yourself to fit your plans
around your internship and go the extra mile for a project. PR
isn't a 9-to-5 job, which means it's less predictable but hopefully
more exciting than most office work.
True - saying what we see
One benefit of having no prior experience is that you'll be able
to provide your employers with a fresh perspective. As an intern
your opinions aren't tainted by previous campaigns and
relationships with clients so you may come up with ideas that would
never have crossed your boss's mind.
You can afford to be really creative. Ask to sit in on brain
storms and meetings to see how the team works and bounces ideas off
one another, and don't be afraid to voice your opinion. Even if
they don't use your ideas it'll be helpful for your colleagues to
be aware of alternative perspectives.
It's a bit of a cliché to say that the job market is tough and
getting your foot on the first rung of the ladder has perhaps never
been harder. But this is why getting some relevant work experience
is vital for anyone entering the job market. Perhaps by taking
Octopus's five core values on board you can ensure your placement
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