Guest Blogger – Emma Willis (Box UK)

Hi, I’m Emma and in June 2010 I began my placement at Box UK, a web development company based in the centre of Cardiff. My role within the company was as a Marketing Assistant, and the main responsibilities included gathering information about projects in order to write case studies for use in tenders, and creating client profiles for the company’s central database. My main hopes for the placement were that it would provide me with an increased knowledge of marketing techniques, as well as helping me to improve my communication and independent work skills.

Once I discovered the GO Wales placement scheme, things happened very fast. My meeting with Box UK was only the second time I had been interviews for a graduate (read grown-up, ‘proper’, scary) job, so despite all the research and preparation I had done, I was still pretty nervous going into the glass-walled boardroom. However, my panicked preparation must have paid off, as I was offered the job and expected to start within the week. Suddenly I found myself walking into a 9-5 (well 5:30) job, which was an exciting, although slightly terrifying experience – I was entering the ‘world of work’, making my parents proud (and relieved that I was finally making some money myself), and gaining some independence. However, independence is a pretty scary thing up close, but everyone at the company welcomed me, and before long I felt comfortable and able to get stuck into work.  

The work I was being set mainly involved creating client profiles and writing up case studies of recent Box UK projects. My degree in English Literature, and the vast amount of essay-writing I’ve built up over 3 years study had given me the appropriate tools to write any many of document, but when it came to knowledge of web development I was… somewhat out of my depth. I have to say that I was initially quite intimidated by the amount of technical language and acronyms flying about, and I had to perfect my ‘I get the joke’ laugh when people made comments about coding (which I still don’t get, but I have resigned myself to that). However, everyone I spoke to showed a great willingness to help me out, and put up with my inane questions without any visible signs of impatience. With their help I was able to produce some impressive case studies and compile a comprehensive list of client information, both of which have had a positive impact on Box UK’s operations.

The outcome of my GO Wales Work Placement

As my placement progressed, the tasks I was assigned increased in volume and variety, which provided a great opportunity to increase my marketing knowledge and skills. Over the ten weeks I wrote news items, factsheets, company descriptions and website copy, and I also helped other members of staff publish blog posts on the company website. It was great to gain this experience, and even better to feel that I was actually supporting the company as a valuable team member. Ridiculous as it sounds (and I know it does), it was quite exciting to see something I had written up on the public website.

Although 10 weeks initially seemed like a long time (an entire term at uni, more or less), it wasn’t long before I had written my last reflective log and was facing the prospect of endless tea, toast and This Morning. I had managed to fit a lot into my time at Box UK, and had some real results to show for it. News items I had written and blog posts I had helped to edit were up on the website and gaining attention (prompting me to convert to the Cult of Twitter – I’m a regular technophile these days). I had also written a submission for the prestigious UK IT Industry Award which resulted in Box getting shortlisted as Company of the Year – I concede that this may have something to do with the way the company’s run but I’m sure my dazzling submission sold it. The work I was originally tasked with – the case studies – have been used in Tenders for prestigious clients including the BBC.

What I’ve learnt!

But, like every cheesy teen movie ever made, this wasn’t just a marketing placement, but a chance for me to learn about me. Maybe I’m not one of those people who see everything as a valuable life lesson or a magical voyage of self-discovery, but I can see that working at Box UK has helped me improve skills that are not strictly marketing- or web development-based. I’ve improved my ability to work independently, and find it much easier to communicate professionally with people both within the company and externally. It’s also shown me that being suddenly flung from the comfy confines of studenthood, and the subsequent applications and interviews, isn’t actually that scary.

Although it’s not something I have to worry about just yet, as Box UK decided to extend my contract – I’ve been able to gain months of valuable experience through the placement, which I don’t think I could have achieved without some support.