Blog post

Everything happens for a reason

By Lara Atkins - 24 April 2020

My name is Lara, usually mistaken for Laura. I am a marketing student at the University of Derby and am absolutely loving my course and all the opportunities it offers. I am currently taking a year out to gain more experience in the marketing industry.

I have always wanted to do a work placement because I love the idea of helping other organisations to find a solution to boost their sales and engagement rate. My goals in completing a work placement was to gather extra experience and knowledge of the marketing workplace, even if it was within an industry I had no previous knowledge of, I knew I would learn even more from this experience.

I started my placement at Traveller Chair in July. It was going well. I was comfortable, happy and financially stable. I learned so much about the mobility industry after much researching and evaluating of the product. I got the business off to a great start across social media and through gathering a lot of research on potential ambassadors we could work with and publications to use to promote our services and products.

I gained many skills to my advantage, such as using Google Tools and social media for businesses. I also improved my communication, teamwork and organisation skills. I developed so much during my time at Traveller Chair, it made me appreciate how challenging marketing can be for a small, start-up business.

However, seven months later this opportunity unexpectedly came to an end. I acted straight away and told a member of our Careers and Employment Service (CES) at University about the news and asked what I needed to do and how this would influence my Diploma in Professional Practice qualification. She was reassuring and supportive and recommended the DRIVEN internship programme. I’m so happy I had the conversation straight away.

The application process took two weeks. This involved applying to access DRIVEN opportunities where someone from the team would give me guidance for my CV. I received a call in response to an email I sent sharing my concerns about my current situation asking which businesses I would be interested in working for and felt that I’d be best suited to. I had mostly applied for marketing internships so this helped to focus me.

After this two week period, I had interview opportunities left, right and centre. I was thrilled. The team who look after our DRIVEN programme contacted me to ask how I was getting on and gave me the opportunity to undertake two internships working for Iceland Holidays and Theatre Sound Supplies.

I cannot thank the CES team enough for all their hard work in securing me not only one, but two internships. Both of these have allowed me to obtain work experience in the lead up to my third year at University. After working just one week with Iceland Holidays, I have developed leadership, communication and organisation skills. I have started work on a project to update all their social media accounts helping them to improve their appearance to customers.

I have gained more digital marketing skills such as using a new email marketing and advert website for social media. I have developed a stronger relationship with my new line manager, and this has helped my understanding towards the organisation. Not only have I developed skills, but my manager has also asked me to help with three other travel businesses as well- which is a compliment.

The CES team have been so helpful and are always responsive to any email I send them. I cannot recommend them enough. DRIVEN is such a great way to improve your interpersonal and interviewing skills because it allows you to have interviews with many different businesses. It shows how different people work and what they look for in an employee, even if you are not successful in attaining an internship, you have still experienced what sort of questions and topics will come up in various interviews.

I can guarantee these internships will help me in the future within a graduate marketing role in digital, social media, advertising, or PR. I am so excited to be working for two companies that I love the sound of and hope to be able to improve.

If you are reading this now, and considering taking a year out or considering applying for internships through the DRIVEN scheme… I say, DO IT! Get that experience that can put you in front of others when looking for a job after university. Any experience in a job you love is a good experience. You can learn so much about yourself and the industry you want to work in.

As my mother told me- “When one door is closed, another one opens”.

The DRIVEN programme is the University of Derby’s GRADS for D2N2 project. The GRADS for D2N2 project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and is part of the ESF High Level Skills programme. The programme is delivered by the University of Derby as part of the High Level Skills consortium which also includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, and Nottingham City Council.

About the author

Lara Atkins
Marketing Assistant for Iceland Holidays and Theatre Sound Supplies

My name is Lara and I am very passionate about all things marketing. I specialise in digital marketing, specifically, social media. I love creating content by Google tools, Photoshop, Adobe Products, Canva, and much more. I also love the satisfaction of gaining a high engagement and reach from a businesses social media following.