Humans of Berkeley – Alex, My Leaving Reflections

Written by Alex Cook

25 July 2023


I should start this by saying thank you. Thank you to Berkeley PR for taking me on for these past 9 months. I’m currently a university student going into my final year, and when Berkeley took me on I was looking for a work placement as part of my degree. Prior to the opportunity to work at Berkeley, I was due to start working at a cybersecurity company in London in sales ops, and I can safely say that what I have ended up doing in PR has been much more applicable to my learning and career development.

To add a bit more background about how important this was: less than two weeks before my start date at this other company, I came back from a holiday and received a call from their HR department informing me they were cancelling the placement program. This sent me into a panic about where I would work and if I would be able to get a long enough placement, as it had taken so much work to get a placement before.

I called in favours, having friends and my family’s friends promote my job hunt on their various social media platforms. Eventually, I had the opportunity to interview at a PR agency– this wasn’t something I hadn’t ever considered before.

Discoveries and Development

I’ve learnt a couple of things over my time here. A short example is that adding dogs into the office is fantastic and every office should adopt it. Our Chief Barketing Officer Oscar, the King Charles Spaniel, was a pleasure to work with, and hopefully, we can do business together again.

On a more serious note, I’ve been able to add several strings to my bow. My ability to write content has massively improved, and all the considerations of SEO and client demands that come with it. On top of this, my ability to communicate ideas to others through emails and pitches has gone from zero to 100. I started this placement with very little idea as to how working in Tech PR works, and now I feel it is a sector I can work in, comfortably and will be able to slip into easily in the future after I have graduated.

In terms of more personal skills, learning and respecting my own and other people’s work/life balance has been key to growing myself as a person. Compared to university I’ve been able to make myself much more structured in terms of what I do during working hours, and am now able to switch off after I have left work. This has contributed to me being much happier and more functional as a human being.

I’ve also learnt much more about creativity. Before I started working, I thought creativity was all about the big flashy ideas, the kinds of things you need massive budgets for. Now I realise creativity is more of a form of problem-solving, making the most of the resources available and coming up with ideas for stunts, written and video content and relevant research endeavours (to keep within a PR context). I’ve learnt ways of cultivating it within an agency and gave a presentation on the topic as part of my degree examinations this year due to my understanding of the factors as a result of that fact.

Reflections and Titbits

Part of what I did involved taking a lot of photos. What you see on our social media is only a small percentage of times I’ve had to awkwardly stand at the back, being the largest and most obvious fly on the wall. Whilst I’m now fine with this method of filling up my camera roll, it did take some getting used to, asking people to gather around, or trying to get the perfect shot whilst a presentation is going on.

Engaging in little office events has been fun. Pouring whiskey sours all over myself as I attempted to be our bartender for World Whiskey Day is a fun little highlight. Also putting myself to the test with a small putting challenge… Can’t say I’ll be picking up the clubs anytime soon.

As this is my first full-time office role longer than 3 months, I will miss a lot of little things. The coffee tokens for the café outside the office, takeaways for training events, and walks around Green Park. I’ve had a wonderful time here and I wonder what will come next.

What does come next then?

Well, firstly I have to actually finish my degree, and decide if I want to try a new field or come back to the one, I already have experience in. It would be very easy to come back, but I think trying as many new careers as possible early doors is a good idea, before I settle on a company and a role.

Otherwise, I’m looking to do some travelling. I’ll browse around but it will likely be south-east Asia like all the other graduates.

Storytelling Academy