Trainee Ink Gardener Anya HoggI was delighted to offer a work placement to a York St John University student in spring 2018. Here is Anya Hogg’s guest blog about her experience as a trainee copywriter:

Securing my work placement

“As a second-year linguistics student attempting to unravel the mystery of graduate careers, I was keen to understand how my degree would translate to the e-communication and marketing sector. I embarked on a mission in my second semester to find a work experience placement into which I could dip my toes.

I emailed several copywriting and social media firms in York. I was promptly met with a warm and encouraging response from Helen. The following week, we discussed my aims and aspirations over coffee. Doing this helped ensure that a work experience placement would be relevant to my professional goals.

We negotiated some learning agreements and Helen answered any initial queries I had about the industry with clarity and great enthusiasm. I grew excited to work with such a passionate and knowledgeable individual!”

What I learnt

“My time at Ink Gardener Copywriting was split over two months. As a busy university student, it was incredibly valuable to me to have some flexibility in the time I spent on this placement. Alongside working with Helen in person, I was given a couple of independent projects to complete at home – including this blog!

Helen also asked me to research creating an article with ideas for running a client’s Instagram account. This was focused on the needs of a vegan restaurant. I looked at competitors, researched articles and produced the design to create Tips for getting the best out of Instagram for business (PDF). [Helen: this is an excellent article, do read it!]

From shortlisting Twitter posts to blog writing

In the office, Helen supplied me with a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Observing a client kick-off meeting
  • Shortlisting Twitter posts to retweet and share
  • Proofreading original website material
  • Producing a draft of an online blog for a business – now live at Paper Pot Transplanting – is this the future?
  • Setting up an Instagram account for another business owner in the Hiscox Business Club
  • Doing a competitor analysis for a specific business
  • Distilling the essentials of an A4 sheet of heritage signage into two sentences

Language through a marketing lens

This placement challenged me to look at language through a marketing lens. It gave me a greater awareness of how to integrate service/ product promotion into entertaining and engaging content. As my degree is greatly centred around research and analysis, I found it to be refreshing and stimulating to engage with the creativity needed in this industry.

Whenever I felt uncertain when undertaking a task, Helen readily offered me assistance and answered any questions I had. Although I had been given independence and responsibility, I felt that I had support wherever it was needed.

Practical training

As well as asking me to complete tasks, Helen gave me several lessons about relevant topics, including:

  • How to use social media management programs such as Hootsuite
  • The fundamental aspects of search engine optimization
  • How to conduct a client kick-off meeting

Assistive technologies

One of the many valuable lessons I received during my time at Ink Gardener Copywriting was about the importance of accessibility in search engine optimization. This covers elements such as including alt text with images so individuals who utilise screen-readers know what the photo shows.

This is an aspect of online content creation I had not previously considered, and it has increased my awareness of how to create websites compatible with assistive technologies.”

Engaging with the community

“As an incredibly active member of the York business community, Helen attends many exciting networking opportunities. She was kind enough to invite me to join her at several events, including:

Through attending these events, I have gained a valuable insight into what to expect in a professional networking environment. I feel far better prepared for events I may attend in my future career, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with such motivated and creative individuals.”

A huge thank you!

“Helen is immensely knowledgeable and a brilliant mentor. The time I have spent working with her at Ink Gardener Copywriting and Social Media has been greatly rewarding and educational. I look forward to exercising all she has taught me as I begin my graduate career journey. Thank you, Helen!”

Thoughts by Helen, Head Ink Gardener:

A work placement needn’t take up too much time

I took on Anya because I remember my own frustrations as an undergraduate trying to secure work experience. I had also asked contacts to help my student illustrator friend with her placement, so felt I should show willing.

The York St John’s approach is very flexible with a minimum of 7 days up to 15 days to be completed as and when. We arranged for Anya to join me for around two days a week, arriving an hour after I had started. This allowed me to deal with urgent client issues and identify suitable tasks.

You learn too

Vocalising and explaining processes helped cement them in my mind. Also it’s refreshing to work with someone at the beginning of her career with such a different perspective. I loved having a research assistant to help prepare the ground and be a fresh pair of eyes. Any future employers of Anya have a gem on their hands.

Future trainee copywriters?

Hosting a work placement does take up some time so depends on my workload. I would however be happy to try to host one student a year through the York St John’s scheme.

Thanks to Hiscox Business Club

Many thanks to Hiscox Insurance for allowing Anya to become a temporary Business Club member. Also thanks to all my fellow members for making her feel so welcome. In particular the careers advice given by linguistics graduate Jackie Black of Digital Business Communication and journalist Catherine Turnbull was much appreciated.