Making your bones

Forgive the La Cosa Nostra lexicon but all I’ve done this weekend is play Mafia 2; the perfect remedy to a 7 day Ibiza hangover. The title is relevant though as you’ll soon see…

One of the most read articles on PRWeek this week is ‘Graduates Believe They Are Being ‘Exploited’ By PR Agencies’. As a graduate who graduated from Uni and then went on to ‘graduate’ from an unpaid work placement to a job, the article struck a chord with me.

I remember those long, gloriously vacant days of Uni; particularly third year, when my friend and I used to stand on the balcony of my flat (mostly reserved for copious water-bombing, but also deep conversation occasionally) and discuss our job plans for the big, bad adult world. We used to arrogantly quip that we’d ‘take’ £20k, as if it was some sort of meagre minimum and that we would wipe our arses with anything less.

The two of us, and another from home all had aspirations of getting into Marketing, albeit varying disciplines; PR, Copywriting and ATL.

Upon our return home, we learnt lessons. Hard lessons.

Marketing wasn’t easy to get in to; to the extent that the industry often felt utterly and totally impregnable. So we all went down the unpaid work experience route with the aim of working hard, learning the trade and hopefully impressing along the way. We were making our bones.

We did it without whining or complaining; we knew even the smallest morsel of experience or merely just taking in the agency atmosphere would pay dividends further down the line and could only aid our employability.

We saw ourselves as sponges (no I’m not on drugs whilst writing this); absorbing as much as we could, ready to squeeze out the perspicacity we’d picked up along the way when the time came.

Too many graduates are quick to point the finger and demand payment of an agency, when at the end of the day they’re doing YOU a favour. It’s like this: you might have little or no experience of PR, Marketing or whatever and you’re injected into an agency of professionals… you then become their responsibility; as soon as you walk through the door, they have to digress from their working day to look after you and show you the ropes.

If and when you start doing work of value to an agency and it’s clients, then remuneration is deserved without question; at this point you might even be on the ‘freelance’ cusp and then who knows…

I read a blog a few weeks ago about a student who undertook unpaid PR work experience; got sick of it, gave up and decided to look for an alternative career. Wtf does that say to employers? That you just fall at the first hurdle, sorry not even fall; just look it up and down and do one in the other direction?!

The Marketing industry houses the most creative, hard-working and brightest graduates because the ‘others’ get filtered out along the way. I think that’s the beauty of the industry’s fortified nature.

I know it’s easy for me to write all this but I’m just saying what I believe and if you don’t like it… fuggedaboutdit!


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