Joseph Scott graduated from the University of Leeds in 2017 with a degree in English Language and Literature. After attending a couple of appointments at the Careers Centre he applied for a role as PR Intern at Cream Consultancy, a listing he spotted on the Careers Centre vacancy website.
I am a PR Account Executive for a small PR, digital and communication agency called Cream Consultancy which operates out of an office in the Leeming Building on Vicar Lane, Leeds. I have been working in this role for six months in addition to my initial paid internship in August. My role has a lot of responsibilities and diverse tasks which aim to support the Directors and Account Manager in their work with clients. The role of Account Executive exercises many skills and I am developing my writing, communication and customer service on a daily basis.
My Path to PR
Although I am really enjoying my PR role, I didn’t aim to enter the sector upon my graduation. I spent three great years at Leeds University studying English Language and Literature, in the middle of which I spent a year studying abroad in Spain. All through my degree I didn’t give much thought to what I would do after I graduated or the type of job I would apply for. Even in final year, when most of my friends began to spend more time on researching for grad schemes than their studies, I decided that I would complete my degree and then worry about a job.
I put all my efforts into the last University semester and I was delighted to graduate with a 2:1 and a first-class dissertation. In the two months between completing my studies and the graduation ceremony, I applied to mainly inhouse Content Author roles around Yorkshire as I had decided that I wanted to stay in Leeds and use my writing skills. I was invited to a few interviews, but I was not offered any of the jobs. In hindsight, I’m very glad I was unsuccessful as I am now aware of what an intense and unvaried job a Content Author can be.
During this time, I had a couple of appointments with the consultants at the Careers Centre. They helped me get a sense of the range of opportunities I could explore and also helped me edit my CV. I spent a great deal of time on the Careers Centre website looking through the job listings, which is where I spotted the advert for a PR Intern at Cream Consultancy in mid-July. I hadn’t considered PR until this point, but I thought that the internship would be an ideal way of trying the industry out.
I sent across my CV and cover letter without much expectation, but I was asked to interview straight-away. The interview went fine but, funnily enough, it was the only interview I had where I was certain I wouldn’t be offered the job. But a few days later I got the call. The internship was set at 2 months in length, and after 3 weeks I was offered a full-time role as Account Executive, which I was delighted to accept.
It soon became clear that a role in PR was in fact what I had been looking for without realising. I have been able to develop the skills which I would consider my strongest – writing and communication. I am frequently in direct contact with clients and have begun to attend meetings at every stage of the client relationship. Due to the small size of the agency, I am able to take on much more responsibility than I would be allowed to at a larger firm. Cream is the perfect fit for me and I am enjoying my time here very much.
My first piece of advice would be that if you are still studying and are worrying about getting a job, don’t. There are plenty of opportunities out there and your time at University is best spent by exploring your interests through your studies. This way you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you are looking for in a job, rather than jumping at the first grad scheme in London which offers over 25k. I saw friends get so caught up in applying for jobs during final year that they didn’t enjoy their final year studies – now they may have a job but they’ll never get that time back.
My next advice would be to maximise the opportunities available at the University. There are plenty of ways you can populate a sparse CV through involvement with the Union. A glimpse at my CV would show my experience at LSR, The Gryphon, 2 years on the English Society committee, work as an Ambassador for the School of English and for the University at large. Society involvement is a win-win because it shows that you pursue your interests and seek responsibility, but you also have fun doing it. Working as an Ambassador is also good fun and pays quite well – keep an eye out for work at the upcoming Open Days!
Similarly, you should absolutely use the Careers Centre’s advice and expertise. It can sometimes be hard to get an appointment during term-time but this free service is great for giving you focus and confidence. Career Consultants (linked to your faculty) can help figure out what you want to pursue which is very useful if, like me, you don’t have a particularly clear idea.
And finally, for anyone who is looking to get into PR, you should use all available opportunities to write for different audiences. The Gryphon is the clear option, especially now that everything submitted gets published in some form. Another way would be to get involved with independent magazines in Leeds or specific writing roles for events – I volunteered as a social media contributor for the Leeds International Film Festival in November. And, if worst comes to worst, there’s always The Tab.