Dilemma - Is work experience likely to give me a head start in securing a job in media?

I am keen to get into media planning and I’ve been offered a one-week work experience placement at one of the top 10 media agencies next February. I’m not sure how beneficial work experience would be. I’ve heard of people landing jobs through it, but is that just a rarity or is it all based on the attitude and work ethic people illustrate in that all-important week?

Lucy Stafford, media director, Tri-Direct

Work experience is invaluable in the media industry.

Not only does it show further commitment, but also so many people who embark on a media career don't know what media strategy, planning and buying actually entails.

On this basis we take people on work experience placements, although we get them in on specific days so we can tailor the experience they have and make sure they work on a specific brief, attend media owner meetings and have the undivided attention of an account director.

If preparation is made to both utilise the presence of someone on work experience and to make sure their time isn't wasted, it is not just them that will benefit, but the agency can actually be prepping a valuable employee for the future.

Kim Maclaren, media executive, Mediavest Leeds

The first thing I would suggest is do not go into this expecting to get a job from it.

Work experience can be a great CV builder; however, how beneficial it will be, is up to you.

You should use the work experience to your advantage and get everything you can from it.

Ask lots of questions and be as enthusiastic as you can, but most of all, be yourself. A week is a short time and if I were you, I would suggest doing two weeks or more just so you can make a lasting impression.

If you are there for a long period, they are likely to give you more responsibility. I would also recommend doing some research on the company – find out what they are all about, which clients they have, etc.

The experience you have is also very dependent on the agency. Quite often agencies are really busy and do not have time to sit and go through things with you. So you could find yourself doing mundane tasks, such as making tea and photocopying.

Do not be disheartened if this is the case – I would suggest you make the most of it. Small things such as experiencing the office environment and hearing phone etiquette are beneficial.

At the end of the day, there is no harm in gaining some experience and it will give you a taste of the agency world, giving you an idea if this is really the career for you.

Sally Davidson, recruitment manager, OMD

Lucky you! I receive requests for work experience every day and I only wish I could help more people get such valuable exposure.

You should grasp this opportunity with both hands, and not just because it might lead directly to a job offer.

Think like a media planner – you want to achieve standout, don't you?

Having relevant work experience on your CV will make you look an attractive and focused candidate to any potential employer, because hopefully you will have gained some insight into what media people actually do all day and seen first hand the reality of the working environment. You never know – you might not like it!

How much better to dip a toe in the water for a week than to make a mistake with your first graduate position?

The chances are you'll love it – and in job interviews you'll be able to say with confidence: "I've experienced a media agency first hand and I know this is the career for me." Music to the ears of the employer, who will be investing in your future.

Saman Mansourpour, account director, Rhythm

Experience is important, but doesn't count for everything.

It is my belief that individuals are products and should be paid for according to their worth, as everyone is worth something.

This may extend to a nominal fee, plus travel expenses, but working for free has the potential to devalue you to your potential employer.

I have never worked for free. If I did, it certainly wouldn't be for a regular job, it would be as a struggling actor or singer.

I have been told along the way: "We'll pay you less, but treat it as an investment in your career, because with the experience you get you will be able to demand more money at a later date."

My advice is never sell yourself short – if people want you, but can't afford you, then they can't have you. It may be tough to get your foot on the ladder, but once it's there, you'll never look back


Dilemmas to come

I've recently been promoted to sales team leader, which I am really pleased about. But some of my team members seem to be giving me the cold shoulder since starting my new role. I don't know whether it's because I'm still adjusting and therefore not as efficient or if they're jealous.

Either way, it's affecting my confidence and I don't want my work to suffer as a result. What should I do?

My colleagues and I send each other jokey e-mails, which we all usually have a bit of a laugh with.

I received an e-mail recently from a friend at a different company, which was a bit racy and probably overstepped the mark. I sent it to my usual group without thinking and received a few shocked responses in return.

Our e-mails are heavily monitored and some people have been sacked for e-mail abuse.

How can I lessen the impact of my e-mail and make sure I don't get my marching orders?

Send your advice to amanda.lennon@haynet.com.

And if you have a dilemma, we'll try to help solve it. Simply e-mail us and we'll keep your name confidential.

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