What do we mean by work placement? Isn’t this for school children?
Work placements typically involve carrying out unpaid work so that you can gain some experience in the environment you want to work in. Not only will you get to see the inner workings of a marketing team, you could also be given the opportunity to carry out some work under the guidance of an experienced marketer.
Its a great way to get some experience in the bank, learn some new skills and see whether marketing really is the right career path for you.
Carrying out work experience isn’t limited to any age group, it is associated with school because that’s where most people get their first taste of ‘work experience’.
You can re-visit work experience at any stage of your life and its beneficial to both parties, in fact most employers would welcome an extra pair of hands for free in this climate.
The difference with work experience as an adult is that you will have to find your own placement but with the right attitude this isn’t a set back.
How to get a work placement:
First of all you need to think about the type of role you have in mind and what it is you want to learn, draw up a list of local businesses you would like to target and find out whether they have a marketing team via their website or LinkedIn (its pretty important that they do!)
Networking can be extremely useful for opening up placement opportunities so your first port of call is to tap up some of your existing marketing network. Explain that you are looking for an unpaid work placement with a marketing team so that you can gain some experience.
You could also ask an associate to give you an introduction to someone they know at a company you would like to get in touch with. Gaining an introduction through a mutual connection does tend to have a better success rate than cold-contacting companies, which is why networking is such a valuable tool.
Getting involved with local marketing networking events and groups is a great way to meet people and LinkedIn is your tool for following up those introductions and business card swaps.
If you are extremely new to this and haven’t yet built up much of a professional network you can still target your list of companies to ask whether they would have any placement opportunities, you just need to write yourself a kick-ass cover letter and CV explaining why you are looking for a placement and what you have to offer them.
Things to include:
You want to create a letter or email template that is like a cover letter but also an enquiry.
Keep it simple and limited to a short introductory paragraph explaining that you are looking for an unpaid marketing placement (emphasise unpaid, free work for them).
Briefly explain your current work experience and list any existing marketing skills you may have already developed in your personal time (they will be more receptive if they think you won’t be completely clueless about the marketing function)
Tell them why you want to do a placement with them, you can develop a blanket template but make this bit unique to make it personalised and show you have done your research, flatter them.
Close it with a question/enquiry about whether they may have any opportunities available for you to help out with their marketing for a few hours a week / month, or on a more continual basis if you have the time.
We have an example of a placement cover letter here and more guides to writing a great marketing CV in our CV centre.
With the list of businesses you have put together you’ll need to find out a contact name of someone in the marketing team (preferably the manager) to send your enquiry/CV to.
You can usually find the names of marketing contacts through LinkedIn and sometimes a personal email address on the website, if not send the email to the generic company email address with “for the attention of [insert marketing contact name]”, as the subject headline.
Keep a list in excel of who you have emailed your CV and cover letter to and diarise a follow up call for about a week after, don’t be dismayed if not everyone gets back to you. Most marketing departments are extremely busy but there is no harm in following up with a phone call and updating your list with feedback as you go along. Its better to have a no as then you can just move on with your list and you could also politely ask that they keep you in mind if they have any work they may need an extra pair of hands for in the future.
If you are struggling for responses consider broadening your search and think outside the box. Don’t just go for the companies with big marketing teams, smaller independent firms may have a smaller marketing function and budget, so they may be more receptive to having an extra pair of hands.
Being proactive is what will get you a placement and remember that you are offering them something for free, if you knock on enough doors then one will open eventually.