“You’re not just sitting there waiting for a job to land on your plate, you’re getting out there and doing something to enhance your CV.”
Laura Brownsell, Fidelity Worldwide Investment
Assistant Manager, UK Media & Relations, Fidelity Worldwide Investment
Laura Brownsell completed three internships before moving into her current position in media relations at a leading asset management company.
I think work experience is essential if you want to work in PR and media relations. It is a hard field to break into, so if work opportunities come up, even if they are voluntary, I would recommend taking advantage of them.
My first internship opportunity came about during my third year abroad from Exeter, as part of my BA in Economics and Politics. I’d always been interested in the relationship between business, economics, politics and communication, so while living at the heart of the EU in Brussels, I decided to have a go at lobbying. I was able to secure an internship with the PR and lobbying firm Grayling, and that really kick-started my career path and got me interested in communications.
In the summer before my fourth year, I arranged another internship with the fashion and technology PR agency Nelson Bostock PR. And then after graduation, I arranged another internship, this time with Scott Harris Investor Relations.
Working as an intern with those companies was a fantastic opportunity to explore different types of business, as well as different kinds of communications-based roles. I worked in fashion, speaking to consumer journalists; in investor relations, speaking to retail fund and wealth managers, and I now work closely with personal finance journalists at Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
My job is extremely varied. One day I might be drafting comments for our commentators, or meeting with journalists to chat about our products and thoughts on the industry. I also get involved in coming up with stories the journalists can write, in organising events, writing PR plans and responding to enquiries from the press. At the moment I am working on our ISA campaign thinking of interesting ways that journalists can write about these products and get some media coverage.
The economic theories I learnt at Exeter certainly come into my work. More importantly though, my Exeter experience taught me to open my mind to learning and understanding information about finance. Working in media relations, you need to be able to communicate with people at different levels of an organisation. The presentations and seminars I was involved in at Exeter honed my ability to speak about complex subjects to different groups of people.
Looking back, I think my year abroad in particular gave me that all-important head start in the jobs market. Not only does living overseas give you something to talk about in interviews, it demonstrates your ability to put yourself in challenging situations. You’re not just sitting there waiting for a job to land on your plate, you’re getting out there and doing something to enhance your CV. Experience, whether it’s paid or not, really makes a difference.