Blog post

Welcome to my office

From a DRIVEN internship to freelance work and a placement year. Marketing student Abbie Wagstaff shares her journey of embracing change and taking steps to find her dream job.

By Abbie Wagstaff - 24 April 2020

Twelve months ago, if you had asked me about taking a year out of university to do a placement I would have laughed and naively said "No way, I'm going to get through my third-year, graduate and get a job back at home in Norfolk". At that time I had so many deadlines, I couldn't see the woods for the trees.

My second year was hard to start with, the pressure to get a good final grade was on and it took me a few weeks to adapt to that. One thing I learned about myself in the second year is that I was too uncomfortable at the prospect of change. My idea was to go straight into my third-year and find my dream job in marketing after I graduated.

My tutor challenged me on my plans, she made me see that gaining experience in my chosen field would bring so much benefit to my end goal. I had taken advantage of everything the University has offered me so far, I then realised, why shouldn't I take this opportunity also?

It wasn't until I came across the DRIVEN stand, in the atrium a few days later that I realised she had completely changed my perception of the importance of experience. The application process was so simple. I applied online to begin with, the DRIVEN team got in touch with me within a couple of days and I set up a meeting with one of the team at the Careers and Employment Service hub in the Kedleston Road atrium where they looked at my CV.

Three more productive sessions later and my CV was approved, this meant that I could now apply online to the internships I wanted. I wanted to see what marketing in the workplace would be like. My eighty-hour internship turned into freelancing and invoicing the company privately for five months.

Positive ID Labels is a label printer based in Melbourne, Derbyshire. The company is well known within its friendly community and they are extremely good at what they do. From the moment I started, I felt like part of the team, experiencing the day to day life of the office immediately. My role at the company was to encourage more customers to make enquiries through the website.

To say I was nervous on my first day would be an understatement. But the whole team was so friendly and treated me like a full-time member of staff. In short, I absolutely loved it. It gave me a taste of what I had been studying for, over the past two years and I knew that I wanted to see more. During the first week of my internship, I was given the task of presenting to members of staff about what my role was and how I would be supporting them. I was petrified. While preparing, however, my marketing knowledge kicked in and I really enjoyed the process of finding the content, designing the presentation and even presenting it. I received a round of applause at the end of my presentation and it reassured me that I was meant to be there.

When the time came to decide whether to go into my final year or to take a year out to work in the industry, it didn't take much thought. I knew I wanted to experience marketing in different industries, and this felt like the perfect step up.

Which leads me onto where I'm at now. Cadeby Homes is a small, family-run property developer based in Leicestershire. My role within the company is sales and marketing. I help buyers make interior choices and work towards improving the customer experience of the property, whilst also looking after marketing areas such as social media, website updates, and any signage that is required onsite.

Cadeby Homes is a small company of only nine office employees, this means that my role at the company is very independent but is balanced with teamwork. I love that I have the best of both worlds. I make my own decisions on the marketing campaigns and also help to prepare the welcome packs and the champagne ready for a buyer to move into their new Cadeby Home.

My DRIVEN internship with Positive ID Labels helped prepare me for working full-time in industry. I knew what to expect and what the company would expect from me. This meant that I was ready to work and to learn as soon as the placement year began. My next step, while finishing university, is to get more marketing experience through DRIVEN internships. I know this will help me to earn money, keep busy, but most importantly, help me to find my dream job when I graduate.

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

Abbie Wagstaff
Marketing (Pr and Advertising) Student

I am a third-year marketing student currently on a placement year. I can't wait to start my final year at university and get stuck into the course.