My first fortnight of December was uncharacteristically busy and probably a lot more interesting than my usual university routine. This is because I spent the majority of it juggling a placement at the University’s Press Office with completing my end-of-term assignments. And do you know what?
I wasn’t even that stressed!
Starting my placement was admittedly pretty daunting; as I walked through the offices and found the room I debated whether to knock and what I should say. However, I needn’t have worried for I was taken under the wing of the very helpful News Centre Reporter, Alex*.
For the first week, I basically got to learn all about what happens inside the Press Office through completing an extensive online course on the University’s Blackboard site. This module consisted of lots of information and various tasks which I completed and emailed to Alex for feedback. Through this, I learnt all about news items (basically blogs for an internal audience), press releases (reports for journalists and the media), feature articles, and lots more.
Having the chance to spend time researching and practicing my writing definitely helped my awareness of writing for different purposes and to varying audiences. As well as this, something I have previously struggled with is a lack of confidence regarding my ability to write competently. Through the assurance and constructive feedback, however, I gained so much confidence which I look forward to using when applying for and working in future roles.
After I had learnt what the Office was all about, the second week was slightly more representative of ‘real life’. Instead of merely completing a course, I assisted with researching Christmas-themed news stories and even writing my own press releases and blogs. I won’t pretend that this was super easy, but it was rewarding and I really enjoyed the challenge.
Towards the end of my placement, I also got the chance to attend a meeting with the staff at the Special Collections in the library. The aim was to find Christmas-themed stories that we could write up as seasonal blogs. What we found were very old recipes for mince pies, as well as historical Christmas articles from The Ripple. Seeing as I write the occasional article for the same newspaper now, it was weird (and interesting) to see what students of the past had been up to.
I can’t emphasise enough how varied the roles at the Press Office are; even in the two weeks I was there, I managed to write about research from within a huge range of departments. One of the parts I enjoyed most was how topical and relevant it could be, for example, a Physics story about owls could be related to Harry Potter. There was also an abundance of research relating to Star Wars and the release of episode VII (which is fab, by the way).
My placement not only improved my ability and confidence, but also increased my respect for the University itself. In addition, I have a new love for black coffee and a larger-than-average knowledge about Donald Duck’s extensive family tree.
*Alex requested that he be named