How I got my placement: Communications at the University of Leeds


Antoinette Abel photo

Antoinette Flocel at work on her placement

Antoinette Flocel Abel is studying Broadcast Journalism at Leeds and is currently undertaking a placement year as a Communications Assistant with the University’s Communications team, which she secured through the Leeds Internship Programme. In this post she outlines her role, and her advice for other students seeking placements.

My role

I am the Communications Assistant at the University, working on the top floor of the Ziff Building. As part of Internal Communications, I help reach staff with messages through different mediums including the staff website, all-staff enewsletter, magazine and social media. I also dabble in Student Communications by helping the team to manage the official Facebook and Twitter pages, and occasionally presenting live stories from the University of Leeds Instagram.

About my placement

Being raised in Derby, the North was never really an area I ventured to very often. However, I fell in love with Leeds on my first undergraduate open day and knew that this was a University that I would be happy to spend the next few years studying Broadcast Journalism (unaware at this point that I would also be working here too).

I enjoy my course immensely, but during my second year, I knew I wasn’t ready to do my dissertation quite yet. Originally, I had planned to do a year abroad, but decided on a Year in Industry, understanding that this would not only elongate my time at University (woohoo!) but also give myself an insight into working. It was even better that I found this internship on campus, as it gave me the chance to do this opportunity in a familiar and comfortable environment.

My routine changes on a daily basis; although I inevitably have set duties to fulfil, there are always new stories to write about, new people to meet and new tasks to complete. The best thing about doing a placement is that it mentally and practically challenges you and the rewards are so fulfilling, especially when you see it create an impact.

Not only has this campus internship been extremely convenient, but it has really helped develop my understanding of Higher Education. Issues and topics that I may have dismissed during my first two years have become a focus of my work in Communications and I feel more prepared going into the working world knowing more about this sector. Despite not knowing any sort of University lingo when I first started in June, I have gained invaluable knowledge and experience from my team, mainly with the help of my wonderful boss! Best of all, there is a true sense of commitment by my colleagues to genuinely support staff and students, and this attitude motivates me in my own work.

Finding a placement

The skills from my course really aided me in finding this placement, but the Careers Centre helped me make my applications more attractive to employers, so I definitely recommend asking for advice.

I have two main messages that I would give to students wanting to take a Year in Industry:

  1. Be proud of your achievements.
  2. Don’t panic.

When asking one of my interviewers why I was picked for the role, they said that I was confident in my answers and they could tell that I was passionate about my past experiences. For example, I had contributed to a newsletter in the past, and created radio and TV projects, and I was proud of talking about this. Understandably, employers want someone enthusiastic who will complete projects that they will be proud to show off! Not only can you do this in your interview but you can also showcase this in your cover letter.

I had spent nights sending dozens of applications, and was only asked to attend around 4 interviews. I started to feel disheartened when I wasn’t successful and begun to worry about not being able to find a placement. The key is to stay positive and make sure that you put 100% in each try. I didn’t secure my placement until much later than other people I knew, and now I feel so lucky to work in a place that I love.

This year’s campus based internships are currently being advertised; there are 24 opportunities (a mix of summer internships and placement year opportunities) across a range of departments and services at the University.  You can view and apply for campus-based opportunities on the main University jobs site here .

In addition to the campus based opportunities, the Leeds Internship programme works with various other employers, locally and nationally, including public, private and third sector organisations to offer a wide range of placements and internships exclusively to University of Leeds students.  Register your interest here to be kept updated of new opportunities (scroll down and click “Register interest”).

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Filed under How I got my job, Work Experience

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