I'm glad I decided to do a degree in management and marketing, rather than one specific to marketing in a particular industry, as I discovered the wide range of business areas open to graduates. I had the scope to find the business area that interested me. This was technology; modules on marketing campaigns gave me an appreciation of how creative technological products lend themselves well to marketing.
Choosing to do a placement with Samsung
While I was at university, I looked for placement opportunities with technology businesses. Through my research into Samsung, I discovered that its innovative product ranges are varied, and it even produces medical equipment. I had plenty of opportunity to interact with products on the placement and I was inspired by the way the company uses technology to improve the user experience. After graduating, I wanted to work for a business at the forefront of technology, so I decided to apply to Samsung.
Gaining the skills for my placement
My previous work experience helped me when I applied for the placement year. I'd completed internships in the fashion industry, spending two months in a public relations role with Ralph Lauren and six weeks with Felicities PR, a small public relations company. As well as improving my understanding of marketing, these demonstrated my aptitude for hard work and my drive for self-improvement – both of which I mentioned when applying for the placement with Samsung.
I'd also spent two weeks volunteering as a teacher in Kenya. This improved my teamworking ability – in particular, recognising strengths and weaknesses within a team and encouraging others to work to their strengths. I found this useful during the placement; I have a creative mindset, whereas many of my colleagues had a commercial mindset, and appreciating our differences helped us to work together effectively.
Applying for the graduate programme
As I'd carried out a placement with Samsung, the assessment process for the graduate scheme was shorter for me. However, most applicants will submit their CV and covering letter, before undertaking a series of psychometric tests, a video interview and an assessment centre. The assessment centre involves analytical and teamwork tasks, and an interview.
One tip I'd give is to adapt your CV to every position you apply for and to make sure you know it inside-out before an interview. I wrote about my internship and volunteering experience on my CV and ensured I could clearly explain how these would contribute to my work at Samsung when preparing for my graduate scheme interview.
The graduate scheme: working in TV and AV
I worked in the television and audiovisual (TV and AV) areas of Samsung during my graduate scheme. I coordinated the launch of new products both online and in store, organised and ran promotional event activities, and used market research and competitor activity to inform proposals to the team regarding how to promote products. I also worked closely with account managers to help control stock and maximise sales. I particularly liked the fact that graduates are treated the same as other employees at Samsung. Your ideas are valued and the work you do is important.
To some extent, you're 'thrown in at the deep end'. However, there's plenty of support when you need it. My advice is to ask your colleagues when you come up against something challenging. I found it difficult to consider financial and legal processes when I started but talking to other graduates at Samsung was massively beneficial. When you join the scheme, you're also paired up with a 'buddy', a graduate who started the year before you, who is helpful for advice – whether that's about work or where to get a good lunch.
Watch-ing out for new products
I knew I'd have the chance to work with exciting new products before starting the graduate scheme, yet I was still impressed by the wide range I could interact with. Samsung likes to teach graduates about its new models; they will often be demonstrated in the reception area. So, despite working in TV and AV, the invention that impressed me most was actually the Gear Watch. I was amazed by the technological aspects of the product – such as how it tracks sleep and heart rate.
Taking on a training event
While I was on the graduate scheme, my manager mentioned an opportunity to support a training event, which I decided to do. In under five weeks, we planned and set up six events across London and Manchester, showcasing products in TV and AV and showing store staff how to demonstrate them in store. This was huge and very challenging. However, it was also my greatest success; I learned how much I enjoy working in events and used the experience to help me secure my current position as junior events and partnership manager for Samsung KX, the company's first brand experience store. I'm now part of a team managing a store in which visitors interact with cutting-edge technology and where the local community is encouraged to take part in events, workshops and performances. I'm really excited about my new position and would definitely encourage other graduates to take up opportunities – even when they aren't directly linked to your job role.
This content first appeared in the UK 300, a product developed and created by the editors at TARGETjobs.