Intern Role Profile - Public Relations & Internal Communications
by Zain Luke Ali
Role: Internal Communications Manager (UK Services)
University & Course: Coventry University – Journalism and Media
When I started my Journalism and Media course at Coventry University nearly three years ago, my plan was to gain as much professional experience as possible alongside my studies. Since starting my course I have had some really exciting and really rewarding placements.
For my third year I considered three options: completing my three year course as normal, spending a year studying abroad, or working on a year-long industry placement. I considered studying abroad but I really wanted to find an incredible placement opportunity to enhance myself personally and professionally, add to my professional experience, and help my CV and portfolio to stand out and demonstrate that I have more than just a three year degree.
I stumbled upon the Microsoft Internship Programme and it looked really interesting. There was a journalism and editorial stream with several journalism roles. This seemed like exactly what I was looking for and I was eager to learn more. I would be able to work in a
I have been working at Microsoft for nearly a year now at the UK headquarters in Reading and I absolutely love it!
I am the Internal Communications Manager for the Microsoft UK Services business. I specifically work within the Marketing Team and it is my responsibility to manage communications channels within the business. This involves producing a lot of written and videocontent for various purposes so a lot of journalism and a huge amount of writing! The business is huge and there is a lot going on. It is my job to make sure information and news is effectively communicated across the UKbusiness, and often internationally.
On top of my main internal comms responsibilities, I plan events, manage the employee awards programme, and support the business feedback team.
Did you get involved in many projects outside your role?
As an intern, I have also had the opportunity to get involved in all sorts of fun, interesting and challenging projects outside of my day-to-day role. These are called ‘stretch’ projects and they have given me the opportunity to develop even more skills.
I also joined the Be Your Future team as Content Lead! As Content Lead, I plan what content will be delivered on the blog for the most effective recruitment campaign throughout the year and I implement the plan to maximise reach and engagement. I seek apprentices, interns, graduates, managers and anyone of interest company wide, to interview about their experiences at Microsoft and to encourage to write content for the blog. I also contribute to the blog myself, writing about my own experiences, and I have worked with the team to really drive video content this year too.
Ihad the opportunity to work with the Guide Dogs organisation a lot this year. Microsoft are working in collaboration with Guide Dogs to transform the lives of people living with blindness or visual impairments. As well as covering the whole story during my time at Microsoft, I have also had the opportunity to visit the Guide Dogs National Breeding centre to learn more the organisation and volunteer too. This is where I met the cutest puppies in the world! I also learnt about how important fundraising is for Guide Dogs and I am not helping to drive fundraising for Guide Dogs at Microsoft.
I have also worked with Brookfields School in Reading this year. Brookfields is a specialist school for children with learning difficulties. I am in one of three intern teams that has worked with the school this year. As part of the ‘Core Technology Team’, I have been working with the school to help them to become more productive as a school though the use of technology so that teachers can spend more time with pupils, their families and supporting other teachers. The other two teams have been building a Windows 8.1 app to monitor student’s personal and academic development, and a brand new school website. This has been a lovely project to work on and it has been heart-warming to see the positive impact we have had on the school. I also got to make a great video for this project too!
What key skills do you feel you have developed?
Throughout the year, I have been using all of my journalism and media skills and I have been able to develop them too… so that’s writing, interviewing, storytelling, proofreading, planning, storyboarding, filming, editing, presenting etc. These skills are really important to me as a journalist, so I am really happy to have had the opportunity to develop them to such a high level.
I support the Marketing Team in various ways and I am often designing marketing materials and presentations. This allows me to get creative and I have been able to develop some design skills which will be useful in the future.
I have also supported several big events and I recently had the responsibility of owning and managing an important customer event. This meant managing the whole event from start to finish; the venue, the structure, the content, the speakers, the customer comms, everything!
Communication – Communication is at the core of my role at Microsoft and I have been able to build on my communication skills every day, in the written content I produce, the videos I create, the meetings I speak in, the interviews I lead, the projects I work on, the presentations I give – everything! Communication is important for any role, so this skill will always be useful.
Professional relationships – I have continued to learn about the importance of forming successful working relationships with the people I work with. Making a good impression and building a good rapport is really important and I have worked to achieve this at Microsoft. Networking comes into this too. My role gives me the opportunity to work with people across the entire organisation. This has enabled me to network and learn from others who may also be in completely different roles from my own. And by taking on feedback about my own performance, I have been able to constantly develop. My professional network has widened enormously, and I have made some great contacts who will be able to advise and support me even after I leave Microsoft.
IT skills – Working for one of the biggest technology companies in the world, it seems only right that I have learnt a lot more about IT, technology and the industry as a whole. I am definitely much more computer literate! Every day I am using computers and the entire Office 365 suite (so Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook etc.) and I am also using the Adobe creative suite to produce media.
What have been the key challenges?
My internship has been a real challenge, but I have taken everything on and it has been an incredible learning journey. I have struggled at times, and it has been stressful at times too, but I have learnt a lot of skills and I have had a lot of support too.
I have a lot of journalism and media experience, but the subject was totally new this year which was quite a challenge to grasp initially. By being immersed in the world of technology, the business and the role from the beginning, I have been able to learn about learn about everything we do so that I can tell our stories in a really effective way.
The high volume of work has been a challenge too. It is very different from university and requires a much higher level of self-management. By learning to manage myself and my work efficiently and effectively I have been able to be really successful in my role.
A final challenge I will call out is owning and managing a whole customer event. I have been supported a few events over the year but owning and managing one all by myself was really new and a huge challenge for me; but the support and feedback I received from my manager helped me to adapt and manage my workload.
Advice for making the most out of your time at Microsoft.
Start off by making the most of your on-boarding – this is when you will really learn about the business, the role and the opportunities available. Ask lots of questions at this stage, show your enthusiasm and try to make a strong first impression; which will result in more opportunities being presented to you!
Once you are comfortable in your own role get involved in other areas of the business! There are so many opportunities to collaborate and work with others on interesting and exciting projects. Doing this will give you experience across the business, experience in new roles, and again it gives you more visibility and increases your chances of even more opportunities you really want!
Finally, go in with the attitude that you can do anything you set your mind to. This year is a challenge, but with the right mentality, you could do brilliantly. Be confident, be creative, and don’t be afraid. Just believe in yourself. We all struggle; it’s how you overcome those challenges that defines how successful you are.
Overall, my professional enhancement year has been incredible. In a year, I have gone from being a journalism student with some great work experience placements, to being an experienced professional who has successfully completed a full year working in a demanding role with real responsibilities for one of the biggest companies in the world. My internship has definitely made me
I have developed personally and professionally and I have gained a huge amount of professional experience.
I also have a deeper understanding of my strengths, my weaknesses, what I like doing and what I don’t like doing. I am now much more skilled too, and having Microsoft on my CV is sure to help! Finally, it has opened my eyes to other career paths I wouldn’t have considered before meaning my career path has widened!
I would fully recommend the Microsoft Internship Programme. It’s an opportunity I’m very glad I took. I am now looking forward to completing my internship and returning to university to complete my final year as a better journalist, a better student, and a better professional all around.