Anna Longton joined Weber Shandwick’s team in Scotland last year, shortly after completing her degree. Here, she talks us through life as an apprentice so far.
“After years of studying towards an undergraduate degree the prospect of graduating and starting a professional job is equal parts daunting and exciting.
“The departure from the comfort of student-hood to full time work is significant for those making the journey, as it marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. In a sense it is reminiscent of leaving school to go to University; both seek progression in the pursuit of a personal goal.
“Perhaps the most intimidating aspect is the application process itself. Where to begin? Who to apply to? What to write?
“The initial enthusiasm can quickly dissipate to panic and stress as rejection emails pile up and grad schemes fill their places. The search for a graduate job is ultimately a test of resilience; it requires stamina, determination and an edge of competitiveness.
“I probably qualify as a bit of an assessment centre veteran. Whilst I am hesitant to be critical of any of the interviews I attended, tasks ranged from the funny to the absurd to the impossible. I have been asked to deliver a 3D C.V. of myself, which was “open to interpretation”, and I have been through a whirlwind ‘speed dating’ interview, where I was given two minutes at a time to sell myself to twenty different managers from different departments. More intense schemes required timed essays, textual and numerical analysis and marketing pitches.
“I’m naturally outgoing and sociable, and I found genuine pleasure in meeting new people and experiencing something different. But upon leaving these assessment centres I would often feel quite dejected about the job role itself, and wonder if the ‘core values’ companies spoke of were just a facade.
“The Weber Shandwick recruitment process was refreshingly different from the outset. The main difference between their interview and the others I had attended was simple: the attitude of the senior team. The interview involved an engaging discussion about the company, recent campaigns and the future of the industry, before moving on to a conversation about my experience and why I had applied. It felt like a two-way exchange rather than a one-way interrogation.
“Other schemes asked why I had the edge over other candidates or why they should invest in me. They told me where I would be placed and what I was expected to achieve. In contrast, the team at Weber Shandwick asked what I wanted from their scheme. The structure of the programme was designed to be flexible so that it could be shaped by my own interests and ambitions. It was a novel experience to leave an interview still feeling inspired, and when I got the call to say I had the job I felt like it was the perfect fit.
“Over the past four months I have been exposed to so many different interesting projects, from start-up fashion brands to whisky campaigns. Condensing the variety of the work from the past three months into one blog post feels like an impossible task, but it is reflective of the sheer diversity of the work and training I have been involved in. I’ve been along to an SNP conference with Public Affairs, worked on videos with the media-training team in both Glasgow and London, and helped to put together business proposals for various fashion and accessory brands. I’ve had the amazing experience of visiting different television and newspaper news rooms, where I had the chance to speak to both journalists and editors and gain an insight into how a newsroom runs.
“There are a lot of great perks to life at Weber Shandwick; like the weekly fruit basket and gym hour, where I can leave work an hour early to squeeze in some much needed exercise. There are some individuals with a wonderfully weird sense of humour in the office too. Weber Shandwick doesn’t apply a cookie cutter to their staff or their recruits, and it feels like individuality is something that is actively embraced.
“I would recommend the scheme in a heartbeat to anyone thinking of applying.”