Rebecca Gibbs

Media and Communication BSc

Why did you decide to undertake a professional placement year?

I decided to undertake a professional placement year after my first year of university. I was originally enrolled on a three-year course but found it extremely easy to change over to a degree with an embedded placement. I chose to do a placement to gain real-life, professional experience in the ‘real world’. I knew that a year in industry would also help me to establish if a specific area was the right (or wrong!) fit for me without having to establish a career in it.

Why did you decide to apply to KIA Motors UK?

It was important to me to apply for placements I was genuinely interested in and not just applying to everyone I saw. I knew Kia would be the perfect fit for me as I have always had a real passion for the automotive industry, starting when I was a young child. My first car was also a Kia, so I automatically felt a strong bond with the company. But I also really respected the company’s values and what it stood for: economically friendly great cars that were budget friendly.

Do you have any top tips for succeeding in the application process?

My biggest piece for succeeding is never stop trying! Rejection is inevitable, even people in the most senior roles have been rejected from a job role. Sometimes, this is simply because a company can tell you’re not the best fit and this is a good thing in the long run. Another tip is, don’t just apply to a company for the sake of it. A company, especially big brands, can always tell the difference from when someone wants a brand on their CV and when someone is genuinely interested in what they do, and this comes across instantly in interviews!

What kind of duties and responsibilities did you have in your placement role?

Kia threw me in the deep end from the beginning, submerging me completely in my role. This was initially scary at first but enabled me to get to grips with everything that was expected of me! Some of my duties included supporting the press team at car launches, being in charge of the Twitter page, media monitoring, creating and writing a PR guide, writing and proof-reading press releases and completing KPI’s. What I really enjoyed about my placement was that my job role evolved with me, the more comfortable I got in certain areas the more responsibility I was given!

What did you expect from a placement before you started and what actually happened?

I actually didn’t expect anything like what my placement was like! I’ve seen a lot of ‘intern’ roles and how they’re portrayed in film and television, the people that fetch coffee and scan things. I expected that I’d be given some small tasks and would be definitely in a junior position, except the opposite happened! Towards the end of my placement, people in the office were shocked to learn I was a placement student and that I was leaving to go back to university. This was because the people at Kia really believed in me, I was given so much responsibility and encouraged to use the skills I had. I had previous experience with photoshop which came in extremely helpful and opened up more opportunities for me during my year. I even won an award with my team for best automotive press office at an awards evening, this was such an incredible experience and really made me feel like I was anything but an intern!

What was your biggest achievement during your placement?

My biggest achievement was being trusted to be put in charge of organising an entire event by myself towards the end of my year at Kia! I was asked to organise a drive day for the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, a group of car journalists from the North of England, this meant that I was in charge of everything from the budget, the cars and even the hotel! I initially felt extremely nervous at the prospect of having so much responsibility but as the time came around to hosting the event, I felt more than ready! It was such a proud time for me to watch the event come to competition and to receive compliments throughout the day and evening by the journalists and my manager!

What was the biggest challenge you faced on your placement?

My biggest challenge during my whole placement was at the beginning, the adjustment phase! Leaving university and entering the professional world for the first time ever can be daunting and that’s absolutely normal. It took me a couple of weeks before I felt properly settled in and comfortable with what I was doing, after this initial challenge I began to really dive into my tasks and started to really enjoy my year!

Were there any key projects that you worked on during the placement year? If so, what did they involve and what was the outcome?

As mentioned earlier, I had the great opportunity to work on my own PR event during my time at Kia but this wasn’t the only project I was a part of. I was personally in charge of the April Fools PR release for Kia UK, this was really exciting and required me to work with numerous agencies before seeing my project in newspapers and websites on April fool’s day which was really rewarding. I was also lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to attend three car launches – The Kia Ceed, Sportage, and ProCeed. These were extremely exciting projects to be a part of as I felt like I had really been a part of Kia’s history. The car launches took place in Slovakia and Barcelona, which meant that I learnt skills in time management, teamwork and brand awareness.

What new skills did you learn on placement?

The skills I learnt on placement came in the masses! I was able to build on skills I had previously such as teamwork and creativity but learnt different ways of communication and an insight into the world of press relations. I was also able to learn skills such as time management, working under pressure, experience in a professional environment, problem-solving, self-confidence and a strong work ethic.

How will doing a placement benefit you in your final year/ the future?

Doing a placement is extremely beneficial in the long run, not only does it give you a break from university work and deadlines but gives you incredible skills and helps you decide if an industry is right for you. It gives you the opportunity to network as well and constantly learn more at a pace right for you. I also believe I learnt a lot more about myself and came back to university far more confident and in a better frame of mind with work ethic for the year ahead. Doing a placement is also extremely beneficial in the future as a lot of the bigger companies now ask for experience/a placement year in the graduate scheme applications!

How do you feel the organisation has benefitted from employing a placement student?

I felt like Kia benefited in a number of ways from having a variety of placement studies massively! New students each year means that there are constantly new and refreshing ideas and minds brought in, meaning that the company is constantly made aware of what a young adult generation mindset is. They can use this information to the best of their ability and means that the company will be constantly using fresh ideas in a variety of different ways i.e. marketing campaigns. It also gives them the opportunity to invest in the student to see them grow and possibly recruit them again in the future!