Before I begin my fifth and final year as a part-time Biology undergrad in September, I’ve been experiencing the agency life thanks to Widening Participation Access to Internships funding.
4 weeks in and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve learnt so much, but here are 6 things that stand out for me so far:
1 – It’s okay to ask for help.
Whether that’s clarification on a task, some co-worker cheerleading to get through the next set of telephone enquiries, or to do a half day for personal reasons, good supervisors are happy to provide support.
2 – Trust gut instinct.
I turned down an offer from a larger agency because it didn’t feel like the sort of place I’d like to spend my summer. Astley Media gave me the impression it would be an environment I’d enjoy working in – and it really is.
3 – Good work produced quickly > flawless work never finished.
A lunchtime deadline for a brand report on my first day proved what I was capable of. Unnecessarily taking hours on a spreadsheet the following week showed me perfectionism isn’t always useful: another intern finished the task 3 times quicker.
4 – A Biology degree may not be a disadvantage.
I do get some quizzical looks when I tell people what I’m studying, but not everyone in the marketing and PR industry has related qualifications. At a Business Breakfast last week, LEGO’s Global Social Media Manager James Poulter told me he used to work for an agency with a whole team dedicated to the biosciences. Connecting with Chris Mastris (Biology graduate, now Digital Account Manager at Optix Solutions) showed me the shift can be done. A random phone call with a Director of Communications for Barclays reassured me the bioproduction industry will need people with my skills. The following week, a company who produce pharmaceutical enzymes approached me.
I probably wont have to identify wildflowers, but it may come in handy to be able to translate microbiology facts (about, say, Gram-negative bacterial use of LuxI family proteins to produce acyl homoserine lactones) into plain English.
Plus with 2 years of freelancing under my belt and a previous job in a charity communications department, I need to value what I’ve learnt through experience, not just from books. After all, ecological theory states I might just be carving a niche for myself…
5 – Listen out for interesting opportunities – work-related or otherwise.
My ears pricked up in a team discussion, and shooting off a quick email to Drew Ellis has led to an invaluable opportunity. Asking a colleague about their evening plans got me involved in a new sports club.
6 – Emma doesn’t like too much milk in her tea, Marc really (really) likes rugby, and Susie is my main rival in the eating-chocolate-bourbons stakes.