What makes Cowshed’s work experience great? Our intern explains
In the week that saw hundreds of young people collect their A-level results, a survey has found that employers’ value relevant work experience over a university degree.
Of those surveyed by AAT (the Association of Accounting Technicians), 49 per cent of employers said they preferred seeing experience, either from an apprenticeship, work-placement or previous role on a candidate’s CV, compared with just 24 per cent who preferred an academic qualification such as a degree.
By undertaking work experience, employers felt that young people could better understand the working environment (62 per cent) as well as develop their practical skills (71 per cent). At Cowshed, we are keen to support young people into their first role in PR and marketing by providing structured internships and work-experience placements for school leavers and university students, often giving them their first taste of the world of PR.
Seran Bishop joined Cowshed whilst on her summer break from studying Sociology at University of Edinburgh, where she has just completed her first year. “Since high-school I’ve known the importance of doing work experience. However, as I started to think about my future after university, I realised that I had no idea what I wanted to do!” she says, “I decided to get as much work experience as possible over summer and it’s been a vital step in considering my career goals.”
Whilst Seran’s degree is not directly related to PR, she knew it was an area she was interested in and was attracted by Cowshed’s ethos of campaigns we love for causes we believe in. Seran explains, “I’m not studying PR at university but the social campaigns of Cowshed tie in with my Sociology degree and I feel I’ve learned tonnes in such a short space of time.”
With a diverse range of clients, including National Trust, Welsh Government and FOR Cardiff, Seran was able to work across lots of different campaigns, building her communication skills along with developing her creative writing and social media skills. “I’ve loved experiencing snippets of all the different campaigns on the go and witnessing the different processes in making these happen,” says Seran, “My favourite task has been creating social media content for various campaigns which enabled me to showcase my creative side.”
Cowshed’s Managing Director, Vicki Spencer-Francis agrees it is important that young people get real, on-the-job experience in addition to their academic qualifications, “We get a lot of applications to join Cowshed each year and it’s the CVs with relevant work experience that really stand out,” she says, “PR is a really fast paced, dynamic environment to work in and being a small agency, it’s easy to get stuck into lots of different projects and gain new skills.”
As Seran’s internship comes to an end, we asked if she had any advice for those following in her footsteps, “I’ve loved my time at Cowshed and everyone has been super welcoming. I felt like part of the team from day one, which is unlike any other agency I’ve visited which made it easier to ask for help when doing things which were completely new to me,” she says, “You’re given real work to do rather than mock-assignments, which has often happened to me in other agencies. Overall, I’d say Cowshed is a fantastic place to do work experience for anyone interested in getting a real insight into the Communications sector, so people should get in touch.”
“After my degree my goal is to work in PR,” Seran continued, “Before my internship, I had certainly considered it, but since working with Cowshed I am 100% sure this is the career path I will follow. A massive thanks to all the team at Cowshed for all your help!”