Media and Communication BSc
Why did you decide to undertake a professional placement year?
I actually chose Loughborough over other universities because it allowed me to do a placement. I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to experience the business environment, learn about the industry whilst on the job and create a valuable network of professionals that I can reach out to even after my placement has ended. It is not very common for people doing social sciences to go on a placement so it definitely gives me a competitive advantage looking forwards. It was also nice to take a break from university for a year and test those academic theories in practice.
Why did you decide to apply to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars?
I thought the company philosophy really matched my way of thinking as we both set overly-ambitious targets and would go above and beyond to reach them. Moreover, the role was very unique and I enjoyed the prospect of working with lifestyle and art luxury media in order to promote such a beautiful product. Lastly, I saw it as a challenge because I had no previous knowledge of the automotive sector nor was I particularly interested in cars. However, the placement taught me a lot about the industry and what goes into building a car from the wheels up which is a nice bonus in addition to all the communication/PR skills I acquired.
Do you have any top tips for succeeding in the application process?
It would definitely recommend applying early because most applications are checked on a rolling basis so the sooner you apply, the likelier you are to get the job before everyone else. One thing I always do is pick a project or an area of the business that genuinely interests me and talk about it in my application. I then use this to say how that role would enable me to improve it and make my mark. It's always good to follow social media in this sense and have a look on the company press club because that is where they post all their initiatives and events. Also, I would recommend following the CEO on LinkedIn because they might post articles about their beliefs of the industry and hint at future directions. The interview should flow more like a conversation, rather than a one-way exchange. Just know the company well, be yourself and try to stay away from clichés.
What kind of duties and responsibilities did you have in your placement role?
I worked as a Lifestyle & Digital Communications Assistant in the Communications Department at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. My activity centred around art and luxury lifestyle media activation, external communications of the latest lifestyle products and external collaborations with brands, people and institutions. I also managed the production of photography and videography shoots that were designed to promote the brand on social media. On one hand, my manager and I supported the Rolls-Royce Art Programme by raising awareness in the relevant media outlets about the collaborations between Rolls-Royce and contemporary artists and art institutions. We also organised media events (e.g. press drives) that further consolidated the relationship between the Rolls-Royce brand and the media, whilst focusing on the lifestyle aspect of our products.
What did you expect from a placement before you started and what actually happened?
I expected to meet supportive and knowledgeable people who would take me in as part of their team and this is exactly what happened. I was given real responsibility but at the same time I received support at all times. I was also encouraged to speak my mind, participate in meetings and take initiative. I was trusted with organising launch events, doing site visits by myself and reaching out to suppliers and the media. I truly felt included when it came down to making important decisions or debating future plans. I am happy to have met true role models who taught me more than just PR, but rather how to be a smarter person overall.
What was your biggest achievement during your placement?
I think my biggest achievement was to meet so many amazing people and to network to the extent that I did. I always tried to maximise every event to connect with people and, more importantly to learn from them. I participated in board meetings where I was the only intern and I was never afraid to ask my manager if I can attend a certain event because I knew how eye-opening they could be. Although my placement has come to an end, I have made lasting connections that I will always value.
What was the biggest challenge you faced on your placement?
Ironically, I think the biggest challenge was to constantly find new challenges that motivated me. Although my placement was an overall great experience, monotony is inevitable in any job and it’s very easy to get caught up in a routine that slows down your development. So, I constantly sought new projects, bigger than the ones I have had previously, and put myself in situations where I wasn’t the most comfortable, such as running a two-week interview and photography session at the plant for an upcoming book.
Were there any key projects that you worked on during the placement year? If so, what did they involve and what was the outcome?
In April 2019, I was charged with organising a media launch for the latest Rolls-Royce accessory, the Champagne Chest, which took place in Champagne, France. The task involved management over budget, partnerships, fleet bookings and general logistics such as booking flights for journalists and working alongside our agency to secure a strong guest list. I was also tasked with writing the press release and with producing video and photo assets for the media package.
To ensure that everything was ready in time for the launch I liaised with several departments within the company, such as Aftersales, Sales Operations and Marketing. I also worked hand in hand with our external partners, including the chauffeuring and trucking companies and the champagne and caviar suppliers. A lot of research went into ensuring that everything was delivered to a Rolls-Royce standard, such as selecting the most appropriate hotel for our guests and choosing the best restaurant. Considering these many different aspects of planning, finance had to be secured from several sources which involved a lot of negotiation with the stakeholders. Despite engineering delays with the Champagne Chest and with finance approvals, I managed to deliver on time, on budget and to the management’s expectations.
The launch was the biggest event that I coordinated during my placement. Due to its multifaceted nature, a lot of coordination and management from my side was required which ultimately improved my communication, negotiation and crisis management skills. The event was a success and all my hard work materialised in a beautiful launch that was in line with the Rolls-Royce brand.
What new skills did you learn on placement?
Apart from industry-specific knowledge, I acquired significant people skills, such as how to communicate effectively with different groups, from colleagues and directors to suppliers and the media, and how to master the art of persuasion. Namely, my role involved a lot of negotiation and collaboration with other departments as well as with the GMs, so knowing how to sell my ideas effectively was a must. I found it very helpful observing my manager speak to journalists because she was naturally charming and had an amazing presence so she was very inspiring to me.
How will doing a placement benefit you in your final year/ the future?
I think my placement has developed me both as a young adult and as a future graduate entering the job market. The people I met, the projects I completed and the lessons I learned have all made me more responsible and confident in what my ambitions are. It has opened the door for many future opportunities in PR and beyond that I can’t wait to explore. Moreover, it gave me a sense of orientation in terms of what I’d like to do next which I would not have had otherwise. University is indeed challenging and important for enriching one’s knowledge, but experiencing ‘the real’ world for one year was a breath of fresh air.
How do you feel the organisation has benefitted from employing a placement student?
I think the student community is very good for innovation and for getting a fresh perspective on sometimes outdated ways of thinking. Especially since most managers and directors have been working for BMW Group for decades, they naturally become blind to some of the internal processes that require improvement. The management would always ask for my take on important topics and would be interested in exploring how my generation perceived the brand. We also formed a Graduate and Intern Innovation Forum where we would identify existing problems (e.g. how can the plant best adapt to an electric future) and come up with solutions as a group of interns and graduates. Our projects were fed back to the Board of Directors who really appreciated our initiative and creative thinking.