As the end of my placement year approaches, I am reflecting on my experience as the first Digital Communications intern at Mills & Reeve.
Finding the role
During my second year of university, I spent all my learning hours online either in a virtual lecture room, discussing ideas in a webinar, or trying to successfully produce a timed group presentation without someone not being on mute. Like many students, I struggled a lot in 2020. Visiting campus, a budding social life, and face-to-face learning were things I did not expect to be taken away so abruptly. To combat how disconnected I felt, I had an idea to create my own society. The process, although was long, was surprisingly simple. After pitching the idea, a student-led group to raise awareness for the inequalities in the cocoa industry, to practically everyone I met in first year, I eventually found the support of a full committee. As a new society and one entirely built online, we had to work hard to gain recognition, and the main way we did that was through our Instagram account. From designing the logo, to brainstorming content ideas and building a following, I enjoyed it all so much. Within the year, we managed to hold some online socials and even collaborated with the main university food retailer for a zoom quiz.
Apart from being great fun, I learnt a lot of valuable skills I only recognised when I applied for my placement role last summer. When the search for my placement year began, I was still uncertain on what I wanted to pursue and therefore what I needed to gain work experience in. I took the approach of finding what best suited me and the skills I already honed, but with an unfamiliar aspect so that I had opportunity to adapt and learn. Most of all, I wanted to be happy, and I found that in this role at Mills & Reeve.
Starting a new job during a lockdown was never going to be ideal, but fortunately for me I had the easiest on-boarding I could ask for. After initial helpful training, I quickly became comfortable with supporting the firm’s social media accounts, regularly creating tiles, and editing videos. Many of the creative skills beneficial for these tasks were ones improved from working on the society. Apart from this, I was trained on navigating the back end of the firm’s website and provided technical support on various webpages. I gained understanding on the importance of SEO and how to best achieve it, which has led to a desire to explore more aspects of digital marketing. Coming from a linguistic background and having a passion to write, I was given opportunity to provide writing support for the firm’s Alumni magazine and attend a client-centric writing workshop where I picked up a range of professional brand communication tips, I will soon be able to put into practise.
What I enjoyed the most
Every day I was learning something new. I always felt encouraged to show initiative and to contribute where possible. Sitting in a team of Marketing specialists meant I was able to learn valuable skills in all areas of the field. It helped a lot that I was surrounded by very nice people, happy to answer any question I may have deemed too silly to ask. A highlight was sharing a key principle of my religion in a video I created for the firm’s socials. Receiving such a positive response and several kind messages from colleagues, some of which I had never met, brought an unexpected feeling of joy that I will remember forever. I became more familiar with the use of LinkedIn, and as part of my placement assessment, chose to investigate the ways in which a UK law firm uses it to portray its corporate identity. This position introduced me to a key career resource I will utilise when searching for future roles.
As I look back on my time at the firm, I realise that I am taking away much more than experience in digital communications. I also know about the risks of cryptocurrency in Sports law, how one would navigate ESG in construction, and the continual changes affecting Employment law, all completely unrelated to what I applied for but still so insightful. Through a Marketing lens, I have gained knowledge on Law as a profession and feel I know lawyers quite well, like their tendency to double-back space every sentence in a web article or use the highly formal preposition, ‘notwithstanding’. However, most significantly I can confidently leave with a developed skillset and an ambition to pursue a career in digital communications, which excites me immensely.
Written by Amal Ahmad, BSc Politics and English Language