Our guest blog is written by Laura Gillespie, an International Business & Management graduate from Aston University, who recently completed a 24 week Graduate Marketing/Sales Internship with Step at Heyford Park, Dorchester Living; a property developer based in North Oxfordshire.
Prior to University I had little idea about what I wanted to do as a career. I chose to study International Business as it covered a broad range of subjects, in the hope I would find something I really enjoyed. Towards the end of University, the modules I found most interesting were those relating to Human Resources, particularly Employee Relations and Legal Issues in HR.
Graduating at a time when the job market is still highly competitive meant that although initially I wanted to find work relating to HR, I soon found it was going to be difficult to secure a job without broadening the types of role I was willing to do. As many of the jobs in HR seemed to require administration experience, I opened up my search using a number of online job sites to include administration roles. This involved daily searches several hours a day filling out application forms for around 2 months following graduation and this is how I came across Step.
I had no prior knowledge of the property industry before starting with Heyford Park, so over the past 6 months I have developed a broad understanding of property development and the role of the sales and marketing department on an evolving housing development. I have gained and further-developed skills in a range of areas, received training relating to both marketing and sales, and been exposed to a higher degree of responsibility to that which I originally anticipated. The fact that the company is very small has enabled me to interact with all of the departments and be involved in a lot more of the decision processes than a larger corporation would allow, as well as seeing first-hand the relationships between each department, giving a real insight into how the company functions as a whole.
On a daily basis, my responsibilities include working with creative design agencies to produce advertising material, managing content on the company’s social media sites, general administrative duties and the collation of sales data. On a bi-annual basis, these duties extend to include the creation, editing and, working alongside creative designers, designing of the Heyford Park Magazine.
In addition to this, my key responsibilities are assisting the Sales Director with brand management, the development of the Marketing Strategy and conducting advertising analysis.
For those who are hoping to stay on at their company after completing their Step placement, as I have, it’s key to show that you’re motivated, willing to learn and enthusiastic about the job. Everyone gets landed with tasks they struggle with or don’t enjoy at some stage, but persevering and doing a good job, asking for help if you need it, is the best way to overcome the situation.
Asking for more work when you’re not feeling fully utilised is a great way of demonstrating you’re proactive, as is stepping up to more challenging roles. I am positive that in doing just this helped me secure a permanent position at my company.
And this was indeed confirmed by Catherine Beagley, the sales and marketing director at Dorchester Living, “the expectations of graduates on placement are: hard work, up to date knowledge of their generation and society, the ability to communicate and independence. Laura shone due to her commitment and dedication to fulfilling her role”.
Catherine went on to say, “It is wonderful to watch someone grow; I think it is difficult for graduates to get hands on experience that is specifically related to their degree but they should not see this as a bad thing. They quickly have to develop a new set of skills which forces them to be flexible and gain greater insight into a career that perhaps they did not intend on perusing”.