“It definitely makes for an interesting story that the one job I didn’t actually apply for, I ended up getting!”

By Natalie Whitehouse

After applying for a whole host of jobs, journalism graduate Sam Smith landed a fantastic role in PR – without actually applying for the job in the first place.

Sam, who graduated from De Montfort with a 2:1 in Journalism, got into contact with the Leicester branch of Aylesworth Fleming, a PR company with various offices across the country, speaking to the PR account director and putting himself out there.

And being pro-active proved to be a success, as a couple of months later the 22-year-old was fortunate enough to be offered an interview, and ultimately a PR role, at the company:

“I did apply for other jobs, of course, so it definitely makes for an interesting story that the one job I didn’t actually apply for, I ended up getting! I applied for a variety of job roles in different locations, from sports journalism jobs in London to PR account jobs in Liverpool.

“I’d also been applying for jobs outside of PR and journalism, including at a local Waitrose where I was actually offered a job just days before landing my role at Aylesworth Fleming which I then had to turn down after initially accepting. I suppose it’s the old London buses analogy scenario.”

The NCTJ accredited journalist noted that preparation and previous experience allowed him to stand out as a candidate for the role:

“When I walked into my interview with Aylesworth Fleming, I had my portfolio of work clutched tightly under my arm, full of cuttings from newspapers, magazines and online articles which I had built up through my degree at De Montfort, from the Demon to the Leicester Mercury and many more, and it was my writing skills which really helped me secure my job.

“My message to anyone in this industry would be to make sure you are putting yourself out there and keeping hold of any work you’ve achieved because it will become useful further down the line.”

Sam began his role at the PR company in September last year, after graduating from DMU two months previously. The company primarily specialises in marketing and advertising for property developers, and Sam confesses this wasn’t the area he had in mind when looking into PR positions:

“If you had asked me when I left De Montfort if property developers were my point of interest, and house builders PR was going to be my long-term career, I’d be lying if I said that seemed reasonable. However, now I’ve become a part of this industry, I can honestly say I love working in this environment and that PR is absolutely the industry I want to be in. I couldn’t be enjoying myself any more than I am right now.”

Sam Smith

Sam’s journey just goes to show that putting yourself out there will reap the deserved rewards, which in this case is a varied job that the graduate thoroughly loves. Although he confesses one of his biggest day-to-day tasks is making tea (“everybody here drinks a lot of tea!”), his role is really quite diverse, with each day providing new challenges:

“The obvious stuff such as writing press releases is a given, but the main objective for all of us working at Aylesworth Fleming, especially in the PR department, is to meet our clients’ needs on a daily basis. This can take many forms in truth, from setting up photography at housing developments to fielding phone calls from the local and national media who are enquiring about a new homes development with one of our clients.”

The biggest challenge Sam has faced, however, has been the transition from university to working life, with a full time role proving to be a big change – especially in such a fast-paced, demanding industry:

“It’s a huge change. From waking up at a reasonable time in the morning, attending lectures maybe three to four times a week, and having deadlines set weeks in advance to achieve… working life is something very different to university life.

“Luckily for me, my drive to work each morning is short and sweet with very little traffic, and the same again on my way home, so that doesn’t affect me. Working to tight deadlines and having things thrown at you from every angle during any given day’s work can be a challenge, though.”

But for the most part, Sam has completely thrown himself into his role at Aylesworth Fleming, and his friendly office enabled him to ease into a full time position immediately:

“This will probably sound a little bit cliché but I have to say that honestly the best thing about coming into work every day is the people around me in our office. We all get along, support each other with our work, work hard for each other but also keep things light-hearted and always have a good laugh about things.

“Perhaps from an outsider’s view, they maybe don’t know who Aylesworth Fleming are or what we do here, but inside our camp it’s a genuine privilege for me to come into work every morning and learn from these guys around me.”

And seeing results also enables Sam to have an unbridled passion for his role, which is something that all graduates will be seeking to find:

“When you’ve worked hard on putting something together for a client, for example if you’ve written a 500 word press release, organised a photo shoot to accompany it, put it all together and sent it out to the media, it’s a sweet feeling seeing your hard work make print and having newspaper and magazine cuttings with your work attached.”