Nina Davey is a final year Marketing, Advertising & PR student at BCU, who completed a placement year as a Marketing Assistant at Housing 21. Nina spoke to us about the application process, a typical day in her role and her tips for finding a placement.
Tell us a bit about Housing 21…
Housing 21 is one of the UK’s leading housing associations for older people. The organisation has two business streams: Extra Care and Retirement Housing. Both options provide older people with the opportunity to continue to live independently, but in a safe and secure community setting. Housing 21 offer a range of properties for rent, outright sale and shared ownership.
So working in Marketing, my job was to promote the available properties and the benefits of the overall service.
What made you want to do a placement?
BCU have always highlighted how beneficial placement has been for previous students. Also, when I looked at graduate jobs, I found that having a year’s worth of industry experience was highly desirable.
Did you have any previous marketing work experience?
During my two years at college prior to uni, it was compulsory to do a certain amount of work experience to enhance our CVs and UCAS applications. I worked for a Microsoft Partner, ICS Solutions, in Basingstoke once a week in their Marketing team.
Don’t let having no experience put you off. BCU offer plenty of opportunities to get involved in so you can stand out amongst the crowd. I was part of The Link during my second year of university, which was a good opportunity. Part-time jobs also provide you with lots of transferable skills.
Companies offering placements know that it’s likely to be your first marketing job because you’re trying to start your career – so I think the most important thing is to show your passion for marketing and be yourself!
What was the application process like?
The application process at Housing 21 was a cover letter and CV. I was then invited in for an assessment day, which consisted of a presentation on a topic of my choice, a group activity and a 1-2-1 interview with the hiring manager and head of department. Obviously this was quite nerve racking and the first interview I had been to in years! Again, I think it’s just important to be yourself and practise lots if you have a presentation to do.
What was a typical day like in the office?
My day usually started with checking the company’s social media pages for any messages, comments or mentions and replying accordingly. I wrote a lot of copy for print adverts and organising for them to be placed in different publications. Other types of advertising I coordinated included outdoor advertising and digital campaigns.
In terms of digital marketing, I ran a number of targeted Facebook campaigns that were tailored to Housing 21’s target audience. My longer term projects included managing a photography project and supporting the organisation of conferences and events. I also got to go out to some of Housing 21’s Retirement Housing and Extra Care Courts for meetings which was good!
How do you think doing a placement has benefited you?
I’m definitely glad that I decided to complete a placement year. I’ve gained invaluable experience and met a lot of great contacts for the future!
I’ve learnt a lot about the company and how certain processes work, which is something university cannot teach you. I also think it has contributed to my confidence.
I’m lucky enough to be able to continue working at Housing 21 part-time during my final year of uni, as their Head Office is based in Birmingham.
Got any tips for students who are currently applying for placements?
Don’t give up! Definitely book an appointment with one of the careers advisors at BCU to get your CV looked at too – they gave me some really good tips!
It is important not to set your heart on one company and consider a variety. I had never heard of Housing 21 before, but now I know how much the company makes a difference to older people’s lives every day and it is one of the largest older people’s housing associations in the sector.
I had always liked the idea of working for a not-for-profit organisation. It’s much easier to work in marketing if you are passionate about the products and/or services you are promoting daily. Knowing it is making a difference to someone is even better.