News from With

Hackney100 voices (Part 1) – Zelal’s learnings

It’s that time of year when exam results have come in. A-levels, BTECs, GCSEs… youngsters across the country have been opening envelopes, finding out their grades and thinking about their next steps. The exam process is not without its challenges: head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman recently warned about the danger of narrowly drilling kids for exam success from as early as 11 years of age. It goes without saying: preparing young people for full participation in the world of work needs to be at the core of any education system.

Naturally, work experience is a crucial aspect of equipping young people with the skills needed to enter the workplace. Earlier this summer, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey expressed the need for teens to take on summer jobs, to equip them for the workplace. And in the context of digital transformation, AI and job displacement, early exposure to a shifting labour market will set youngsters in the best stead for finding lasting employment.

At Withpr we have long been committed to providing internships as a point of entry to the PR profession. And this summer, we have been part of the Hackney100 Scheme, run by Hackney Council, welcoming two young people from the local area into our ranks. The first of our candidates, Zelal, gained some valuable insight into media, PR and tech, during her time with us this month.

“A large part of PR involves understanding media narratives, so I have been regularly reading newspapers every morning. I have also been finding out about advertising, financial, education and retail technologies. I’ve also been learning about new terminology such as artificial intelligence.”

Zelal was particularly interested in gaining transferable skills for her future study at Bournemouth University. “My time at Withpr has allowed me to grow as a person,” she told us. “I’ve been working with new people, as well as learning how to act in the workplace and learning new behaviours.

“Another reason why I joined was to gain experience in working at a desk and on a computer. It has been challenging getting used to a Mac, but I have been getting my head around it and hope to get quicker in navigating computers in general.”

Within our own industry, the CIPR is also committed to properly equipping interns who may go on to become PR practitioners in future. That means providing a work plan that doesn’t just involve making coffee and filing, but really getting stuck in with media research, monitoring, capturing coverage and supporting content development.

Through the Hackney100 Scheme, we’ve been able to provide an authentic introduction to PR for Zelal. “It has taught me a lot: PR it’s fast-paced – anything can come up in the news about clients. I have learnt that if a company wants to have strategic coverage in the news, then they would go to a public relations expert. I also learnt that it’s really important to build good relationships day to day with clients.”

By providing an honest and candid snapshot of life as a PR, our interns have been learning valuable lessons about our industry. We hope it has given them that all-important broader experience that can help them for future job applications and interviews.

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