Placement year, during a pandemic, was not what I was expecting. My name is Amber Ellis; I am a 21-year-old who is primarily based in London while on my placement year with Anna and the Informare team.

Before COVID-19

During the summer before my second year, I took the time to consider what I wanted from my placement year, a lot earlier than most. I knew I wanted to work in an agency rather than in house as I wanted to get as much experience with aspects such as; distinguishing the tone of different clients, managing multiple client social accounts as well as developing a variety of new connections for the future. It was in September of my second year when I reached out to Anna about working with her for my placement year. The first half of my semester was a great success, I did become president of the PR Society, and although only being able to execute one event before university closure, I did thoroughly enjoy the position and had a great team behind me.

During COVID-19

However, nobody could have predicted how 2020 would have gone. In March, the university decided to shut entirely until the new year, and I had lost my part-time job as a bridal consultant. It was a difficult time, losing my job and adjusting to online learning. Nonetheless I completed the year, finishing with a high 2:1 of 68%.

Many of my peers had unfortunately been contacted by their placement companies to inform them that their placement was no longer going ahead, luckily this wasn’t the case for me. But during this extra time I had accumulated because of Covid-19, I utilised my time by completing the Google Garage Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course as well as joined many workshops and webinars within the industry. These courses have helped to sharpen my knowledge in areas such as; social media SEO, email marketing and content creation for social media platforms. While also revamping my CV and designing my website.

Within my first few weeks, I have worked closely with a variety of businesses from established companies to smaller charities – all done remotely. Providing my knowledge to the social media platforms, press releases and helping develop marketing materials. Even had my first press release put out.

The New Normal?

During these three weeks, I have experienced both working in the office and working from home and I can see the pros and cons of doing both. When working from home, you get a little bit more time to yourself in the morning, maybe to cook a full breakfast or catch up on some housework and you save money on travel and potentially lunch. While also preventing travelling during peak times as often, so limiting possible contact.

However, that interaction and ability to bounce ideas randomly with peers is not easy to do unless in a scheduled call, which in itself can be challenging to plan with everyone working on their tasks and duties for the day. Maybe a mix of the two is what is most functional, three days at the office, two at home. It would be nice to meet and discuss plans with clients in person, making the planning process more collaborative without the technical difficulties of “can you see my screen?” or “can you hear me right now?”. However, we must also respect people’s boundaries and governments guidelines.

Overall COVID-19 has given me an understanding of how the workplace adjusts in fast-changing situations. We are seeing first hand, on a global scale, people and companies having to adapt to this new normal and it is definitely a different start to my placement year than what I was anticipating.