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University careers fairs and the importance of the student-employer skills exchange

University careers fairs and the importance of the student-employer skills exchange

The PHA Group's stand at The University of Sussex's Mini Careers Fair was filled with take away material on work opportunities and career advice.

The PHA Group’s stand at The University of Sussex’s Mini Careers Fair was filled with take away material on work opportunities and career advice.


The PHA Group’s HR team recently visited The University of Sussex for their 2016 Mini Careers Fair. The afternoon of informal discussions about future employment opportunities was aimed at soon to be graduates looking for summer internships and permanent roles.

It was a perfect opportunity for employers to meet with students and have a relaxed chat about a career in PR, what to expect from a role with The PHA Group and how to apply.

Here at The PHA Group we attend a number of careers fairs each year, and we very much enjoy the chance to chat to university staff and students, and ultimately take the first step towards the skills exchange that takes place between employers and students during work experience and graduate roles. By a skills exchange, we are talking about the mutual benefits that come with talented and enthusiastic candidates working with exciting and supportive companies.

This exchange of skills kicks off at initial meetings between employers and students. Careers fairs are a great example of this; they let employers find out first-hand what graduates are looking for in terms of preferred industry sectors, types of opportunities (work experience, paid internships, graduate roles), and what they value most in an employer. Likewise, careers fairs give students direct access to employers and therefore a chance to speak frankly about the company and ask questions that they may not be able to find answers to elsewhere.

So what can you expect from The PHA Group at a careers fair?

Firstly, you will get to meet our HR team who deal not only with recruitment, but staff benefits, training, progression planning and promotions, all of which are very important aspects of your working life once settled into a role. We recommend making the most of the chance to speak with our HR team and to get to grips with the structure of our agency through their insights.

PHA Staff Benifits

You will also have the opportunity to find out what The PHA Group is all about: from our founding 10 years ago by national newspaper editor Phil Hall to our many awards, including Media Employer of the Year 2015.

We come equipped with a number of pieces of take home material that are great reading for anyone still not sure what a job in PR really entails or what you can expect to get up to as an intern. We provide handouts that break down a number of PR terms through a bespoke glossary, give an example of what a day in PR can look like and provide a succinct summary of our core values. We have a number of detailed PR case studies from award-winning campaigns for students to take a look at, and if you have any questions on these we will be happy to answer them.

What can The PHA Group learn from you?

Whilst careers fairs are ultimately an opportunity for students to demystify graduate employment and speak frankly with employers, there are also a great deal of advantages that careers fairs can offer to employers.

Here at The PHA Group, we pride ourselves on the support we offer to our staff, and we actively encourage a culture of inclusiveness that is formally supported through our training programs and staff benefits.

But we understand that getting a fresh perspective on all of our internal strategies is important and can help when advertising for a new role. Therefore, understanding what students and recent graduates are looking for in an employer is crucial.

We value the insight we get into course structures from students at careers fairs, and we learn a great deal about what students enjoy most about their course and how they would like to build upon these skills through work experience.

We value such information and report it back to the teams to ensure that graduates receive an engaging and relevant experience with the agency. Why not have a read for yourself to see just how much of a positive experience candidates on our work experience and paid internships have.


Our interns are encouraged to fully immerse themselves into agency life, and regularly take part in client work. Seen here is our intern Peter taking part in a promotional video for our client Fantastic Services.

If you would like to find out more about opportunities at The PHA Group then you can contact HR Assistant Lucy Wardlaw O’Brien on

The PHA Group are holding an Open Day in September 2016 where prospective candidates can get to visit our London offices, chat to staff of all levels about their experience in PR and listen to talks from senior consultants on subjects such as crisis and reputation management PR. All of the details are available via our recruitment page.


PR internships and graduate jobs: The top tips you need to know

The PR industry is exciting, fast-paced and always on the lookout for fresh talent.

PR has something for everyone: whether you are a creative media graduate, an English student with a flair for writing, or a sports fan with an interest in events.

Yet breaking into the PR industry can be competitive, so here are five insider tips for getting an internship or graduate job in PR.

FYA seminar

All members of the PHA team are encouraged to attend weekly training sessions. Pictured are both permanent team members and interns during a guest speaker seminar.


1 – Do your research

Graduate roles in PR pop up all the time, so making sure you pick the right one for you is vital. The best candidates will have researched the company and have a good understanding of their work.

Going into an interview you should feel confident in your ability to talk about the company’s successful campaigns and what makes them different from their competitors; all of which shows you understand the company and PR.

It’s important to remember that an interview is just as much a chance for you to find out more about the company as it is for the company to find out about you. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage in a discussion about the PR campaigns and events you feel passionately about.

Try to name check their clients, express an interest in their founders, and if they’ve won an industry award congratulate them on this – all this knowledge will add personality to your interview and make it memorable.


2 – Tailor your CV

Your CV is the first look at your professional skills and creative experience that an employer gets, so make sure it’s a good one.

Start your CV with a punchy personal summary that both grabs their attention and clearly says what you’re looking for. Try to present your experience in a way that tells the story you want it to – so that writing for your student newspaper, getting involved with event planning and working in a shop all show you have the skills necessary to succeed in PR.

Even the skills you think may be unrelated to PR can be relevant. For example, working in retail demonstrates your ability to communicate with a variety of people and demonstrate a basic awareness of business.


3 – Keep up with social media

Social media is crucial to modern PR and so making sure you stay up to date with your own online channels will help you keep an eye on job opportunities and help recruiters keep an eye on you.

As a free and wide-reaching tool for getting in contact with prospective employees, PR companies will use Twitter as a way to reach job-hunting graduates, so follow their tweets for updates.

Be sure to keep your LinkedIn profile as up-to-date and interesting as possible, that way recruiters can easily see your skills and get in contact with work opportunities.

HR insight: recruitment fees mean PR companies are eager to contact candidates directly, so having a stand-out social media presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress) allows your skill-set to reach a much wider audience in the way that you want it to.

PHA People tweet

Check out The PHA Group’s twitter feed for live updates on recruitment and agency news.


4 – Be enthusiastic at interview

This might sound like an obvious one but it’s surprising just how far genuine enthusiasm can go in a competitive sector such as PR.

It’s refreshing for a company to meet a candidate who is eager to get stuck in and has the enthusiasm to get this attitude across at interview.

Make sure you convey a passion for the industry and a willingness to learn in the areas you are less familiar with. It’s important to emphasise that whilst you aren’t a PR expert, you have the drive to become one, and it’s this positive approach that will stand out.

So be enthusiastic about the agency, the role, the far-reaching influence of PR, and show your ability to work through the challenges that a role in PR can throw at you.


5 – Take the internship and keep in contact

If a graduate job in PR seems too daunting or out of reach, do not fear. Internships and work experience are the perfect PR taster, and whilst unpaid placements can seem unfeasible in a costly city like London, they are a great way to build up your experience and get some great names on your CV while you’re still a student.

Most PR companies will offer some kind of internship and these will vary in their content. The best PR internships out there will get you writing press releases, contributing in client brainstorms and speaking to journalists, so there’s plenty to be learnt and to add to the CV.

We here at The PHA Group champion our interns and make sure we give them as much insight as possible into PR.

But don’t despair if an internship doesn’t immediately lead to a permanent position. Employers will always appreciate a variety of experience with different PR companies. However, when your internship does finish make sure you leave the door open and stay in touch.

If you’ve made a positive impression, then why not remind them of your availability and most recent work experience by dropping them an email every now and then? That way there’s no reason why you won’t be at the front of their minds when they come to recruit for their next graduate role.

PHA social

Socialising and keeping in touch with your colleagues is a great way to network and keep your finger on the PR pulse.