What's it like going back to University after doing a placement for Microsoft?
The Be Your Future blog is thrilled to announce its first ever piece from a new series called Back to Uni. On of our amazing FY15 interns, Polly Cartwright has kindly agreed to write about what's it like to come back and spend her final year at university after working for one of the most prestigious companies in the world.
You may have read some previous posts from me whilst I was an intern as part of the BYF Blog team, so I’m honoured to have been asked to write again now back at University, enjoying my final year!
I study Events Management at Bournemouth University, which is similar to business studies with more of a focus on Events. I returned to Uni after doing a 14 month placement at the London Office, within Advertising and Online, Microsoft’s digital advertising sector. I was lucky enough to have two roles during my time; my first was a really creative role within an in house creative agency called YARN. YARN created experiential marketing experiences on every Microsoft platform such as Xbox, MSN.com, Outlook, Bing. We teamed up with other companies such as Warner Bros, to create adverts which were displayed on our platforms. The role was very creative and allowed me to understand what it was like to work in an advertising agency! My second role was more communication based, not as creative but allowed me to explore a different side to marketing. I worked for a European team, so I was one of 2 who were based in the London office. I organised many events during this role such as AdWeek Europe and Cannes Lions Festival of Technology which was great to encourage me to meet industry professionals.
I had one of the best years of my life at Microsoft, experiences I’ll never forget, and opportunities I thought only existed in dreams! So the thought of going back to Uni wasn’t something I was majorly looking forward to. However, being back, I have appreciated I needed it more than anything! As great as my year was, to be able to have one final year to reflect on my experiences, I have realised that I needed the time to focus on everything I’ve learnt before getting ahead of myself and committing to full time work! I think working every day really improved my work ethic, the library has turned into a bit of a second home this year, and I believe I have the motivation because of my 9-6 hours last year! The final year workload naturally increases, it would be crazy if it didn’t, but I think many people exaggerate how bad it is. It’s significant, but it’s definitely not overwhelming. As part of my final year, I have to complete a dissertation, something which always used to scare me, however being here and doing it isn’t half as bad as people make out! My biggest advice is just to start early. 8 months may seem like a long time, but this year has flown by already and now I only have 2 more months of that!
I was lucky that my placement role entailed planning and organizing events, as I have been able to use my experiences as examples in my exams and in my dissertation! However, I believe that even if your placement was nothing to do with your Uni degree, doing a placement helps you to understand soft skills such as deadlines, time management and reading the news to keep up with the world which is invaluable to take back to Uni! So if your job is nothing to do with your degree, don’t fret because having these experiences will have made you a better rounded person in general.
Some of the most beneficial experiences of my placement were the networking experiences. Networking is so important in life, and the more you do it, the more you realise this. My confidence definitely grew whilst I was on placement as I was encouraged to have meetings and conversations with people much older and much more senior to me within the business. This taught me that more often than not, people are people, and are always happy to help. These skills, I have used daily since going back to Uni, conversations have transformed from ‘are you going out tonight?’ into really interesting conversations about my friends passions, my lecturer’s history and even my own interests and opinions.
On a night out during Cannes Lions Festival of Technology
You learn an invaluable amount just from having a good conversation with somebody, and learning this skill in my placement has opened up so many opportunities for me this year. For example, I spoke to my lecturers on a more personal level and they have asked me to create videos and blog posts for them about my experiences at Uni. I have chatted to fellow students I might never normally talk to, and through these connections, landed my own radio show at Bournemouth Hospital! Although networking is a soft skill, I believe it is one which should never be over looked, so wherever you are, whether you’re applying for placements during your second year, or mid-way through your internship, although it may sometimes feel scary, never be too busy to ask questions and get to know people. From past experience, people are happy to talk about themselves and will take more of an interest in you too!
Hawaii Social... Aloha
For those finishing placements in June and going back to Uni in September, best of luck, the transition can seem daunting but when you’re back you’ll appreciate the chance to be back! Make the most of your internships and seize any opportunity... the opportunities you have will give you an edge in future interviews and of course, create some invaluable stories!