After recently spending two weeks shadowing the PR and Content team at Aira I truly feel I have learnt so much, both about myself and about the industry. I thought coming out of first year at Uni, studying BA Public Relations, into an intense 9-5 working environment might be slightly overwhelming, however as soon as I walked into Aira I was greeted with friendly faces. From executives, to strategists, to the Co-Founders, everyone at Aira treated me as part of the team and took time out of their day to meet with me and chat through their niche/specialist topics.
I even got the opportunity to attend outREACH conference, hosted by Verve Search, with some of the team midway through my work experience. This was a fantastic opportunity and I’m really thankful that Aira gave me the chance to attend, as the speakers were so captivating and furthered my knowledge of the digital industry. It was also a great chance to interact with other like-minded people, building personal and online contacts, with those credible in an industry which I’d love to work within, in future years.
Below I will list 3 main points of advice for anyone in a similar position to myself- looking to gain work experience to further their knowledge of an industry which interests them.
1. Go to an agency on a smaller scale for a more personal experience
This is something I feel really strongly about, especially after my time at Aira. While I’ve never gained work experience at a large corporation and am sure that it’s a great opportunity, if you want to get to know everyone and feel properly part of a team, then I would suggest a smaller agency is your best bet. It also gives you the opportunity to observe the responsibilities of other teams and discover how the business succeeds as a whole, by the contribution of everyone’s efforts.
This is something I particularly loved about my time at Aira, as while my passion lies within PR, it’s opened my eyes to how PR activity works in collaboration with Marketing, SEO, PPC and Social Media. By working collaboratively in the digital industry I have discovered that you are establishing the appropriate grounds for a happy client.
I further found, that because Aira is a relatively new agency, I wasn’t in a long cycle of work experience students, which was actually really exciting, as I was able to tailor my experience to what I wanted to learn and particular skills I wanted to develop, rather than just being handed a generic work experience programme. My mentor Livi was amazing at facilitating this; booking me in for daily consultations with a range of people who interested me from the team.
2. Immerse yourself in every opportunity you are offered
When turning up at an established agency, full of people who have already formed relationships, you are naturally inclined to feel like a little fish in a big pond (cliche I know but true). However, there really is no time to be nervous and shy away or you will simply hinder the time it takes you to pick up skills and learn from those around you. From my first day at Aira I was thrown straight into morning meetings, Q&A’s and ideation sessions. I saw this as a great opportunity to learn from skilled and experienced members of the Content and PR team and by day two I was already coming up with my own content so I could pitch in ideas, as well as evaluating the ideas of others.
I was really determined to make a good impression by actively contributing in group sessions, and as mentioned previously I believe this granted me being given the opportunity to attend outREACH conference- one of the highlights from my time at Aira.
So to round it up, while it’s totally normal to feel nervous entering into an unfamiliar environment, you ultimately are there to learn as much as you can so really do throw yourself into the experience- both for your own personal growth and also, to make a good impression on the company.
3. Learn, learn and learn more!
Following on from my previous discussion, my number one piece of advice for anyone embarking on a work experience placement is to really take the opportunity to learn as much as you can. For me, a really helpful way to ensure I’m retaining information is to always write things down- whether this is in meetings, brainstorming sessions, one-to-one chats or at conferences. I’ve found often those who are experienced can give you a lot of valuable information at once so by writing everything down on a doc or in your notepad, it gives you the chance to look back at your notes afterwards and ensure everything said is digested and makes sense.
Also, take the opportunity to learn about those influential in the industry. By speaking to employees within Aira and making notes of those who interested me at outREACH conference, I found I was able to strengthen the relevance of my online connections and continue learning from those in the industry who really inspired me. After all, my work experience at Aira is just the start of my journey in the industry, so I want to ensure I am following all the right people so I can continue to be up-to-date and further my knowledge of the digital world.
Hopefully these tips can give anyone searching for, or embarking on a work placement a helpful insight into how to get the most out of your experience. I want to say a massive thank you to all the Aira team for making my time there so worthwhile. I really have thoroughly enjoyed being at Aira and it’s a company I would love to return to and learn more from, in the future.