Now an Assistant Account Executive at Red

I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a position at Red as an Assistant Account Executive in the technology team! I believe this role will compliment my existing skills and will allow me to develop further as I make the transition from student to a fully fledged PR Professional. I shall be beginning my new role mid-June where I shall be located in London full-time.

Red has always been one of the PR agencies which has stood out in the PR industry due to its highly creative approaches to fulfilling client objectives, which has led to a number of different awards. In 2011 it was awarded “PR Agency of the Year” by Marketing Week and this year it was awarded “UK Consultancy of the Year” by The Holmes Report.

After the initial graduate application and assessment day I was interviewed at Red by two of the agencies’ Managing Directors. An ordeal which should have been nerve racking but the agencies’ flat structure soon shone through as I was eased into a job interview which was a conversation rather than an interrogation. I quickly became aware that the job being offered, the clients available and the sort of work they do would be perfect.

Deciding which company I should work for is heart over mind decision for me. My initial emotional reaction to a workplace will invariably be a large contributing factor to my final decision.

I am gracious and fortunate to have found a graduate job before I have even left University. However it did take a lot of work. Through the final few months of University I applied to roughly twelve different agencies (all graduate schemes); job applications, telephone interviews, assessment days, real world interviews, work experience – I did the lot. I got a few rejections, some interest but my final decision would have always been Red.

My days as a student have come to a close. University is over and a new job awaits. I cannot wait to start working for Red and I am delighted that they want me to be a member of their talented team.

Its time for me to prove my worth in the PR industry.

Don’t fall at the first hurdle…

Elly Russell is a final year student at the University of Brighton who is studying (BA) Hons Business Studies with Marketing. She has a strong interest in Digital Marketing, loves scuba diving and is starting her search for a job for after she has graduated. She has kindly provided this article for the blog giving job advice for the newly graduated.

As a final year graduate at the University of Brighton, I am fully aware of the quiet panic that is going through every soon-to-be graduate’s minds at the moment (along with passing exams) – how to I nail the search for graduate jobs? This is a tricky area and so many people make such stupid mistakes that can so easily be avoided. I’m here to give you some tips on cardinal sins that people are still making and for you not to do the same. According to a study conducted by The Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, there are three mistakes that were the most detrimental to succeeding in gaining a graduate job.

39.9% of graduates were not dressed properly for the interview
This is something that can be so easily fixed. This is a professional situation when you are invited to a company’s office for an interview or Assessment Centre, therefore you must look the part as this is going to contribute towards their first impression of you.

Think about what you intend to wear and go even smarter. This means a suit with a shirt and tie for the boys. The use of an iron is essential and make sure there is no evidence of novelty socks, as hilarious as they are. For girls this is a bit more tricky; keep it simple and if you don’t think you can handle wearing heels then don’t. It’s never worth risking falling on your face in front of your new employer so stick to what you know. Festival bands, tattoos and piercings should be covered up as much as you can – it is not necessarily considered professional and employers are not going to be interested in them so it’s worth keeping them hidden for the day.

29.1% of graduates are late for the interview
This is another area that can be so easily avoided. Aim to arrive at the office 10 minutes before you are expected to show up, so you appear punctual and you can gather your thoughts and your nerves before you go in. If you are travelling by car, keep up with the traffic reports and obviously make sure you have enough petrol and a sat nav if necessary. Parking can take a while as well, so I would leave the house 30 minutes earlier than expected to avoid any unforeseen hiccups and you can still arrive to the interview on time. For those of you who are travelling by train, make sure you don’t miss your train times and try and get an earlier arrival so you can find the office in good time.

25.9% are not prepared for the interview
This is probably one of the most damaging mistakes a graduate can make, as this can imply a lack of interest in the role and creates a negative impression before you have even given them the opportunity to show them what you are capable of. Look up all the information you can about the company, in particular the field that you are going to be working in. It is also worth knowing what competitors they level with and what their angle is in the market in comparison to the company’s capabilities. Sign up to their newsletters and request a brochure if you can, so you have an idea of what their trading operations are. Make sure you have some questions that you are going to ask the company; prepare about 10 or so and memorise them so you are ready when they ask you: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’

So there you have it. By conquering these, you are already ahead of most of the competition in the graduate jobs market and you don’t make yourself look like a fool! Sounds simple enough, eh?


No Microsoft Graduate Scheme for Me

In a recent interview with Ben Cotton (will be published at the beginning of August) I expressed how I could see myself working for Microsoft for the next few years. Yet a door closed firmly today with the news that my Microsoft Graduate Scheme has not been successful.

Returning to Microsoft as a graduate is the most direct path after having been an intern at the company for over a year. Hearing the news whilst still in employment is a shock, especially as my team decided to extend my internship contract way beyond the June deadline.

The world is deeply competitive and despite members of my team contributing to a flattering end of year report, having achieving all of my commitments and assisting with the delivery of roughly $1M of revenue – it was not enough. For some reason (which I will find out tomorrow) I was not considered compatible against the criteria of a Microsoft Graduate (I still don’t know what these criteria are).

The Size of the Pond Matters
We are all fish and our size depends on the pond we find ourselves in. Microsoft is a large company and it just so happens that the pond is vast. The Microsoft Marketing scheme has a handful of positions (last year there were two) and my application has to be considered against the competition. In this case the competition won.

Learning how to Stand Up Again
It is easy to feel knocked down after any job application is rejected. Many of my friends are trying to find work; some have been searching for over a year. Whenever a path is closed it is important not to take the rejection personally. Companies will look for what they find relevant for the positions they have available. Pick yourself back up and continue searching.

Companies Make Risks (and sometimes lose)
It is true. Out of my year of Microsoft interns there are a couple who I know worked extremely long hours, approached their jobs with professionalism and did superb work. They too heard the news today that their applications to the Microsoft Graduate Scheme were not successful. Without a doubt many will go on and lead extremely successful careers. Whenever any company rejects an application they make a risk, that person could go on and do something better.

How do I Feel?
Disappointed that my path to the Microsoft Graduate scheme is closed. Microsoft is a brilliant company and I encourage any student to consider the Microsoft internship scheme. Clearly the Graduate Scheme was not meant for me and many paths remain open. Perhaps I will finally go into a Public Relations role? Stepping into the world of media is now my next challenge.


For those who may have made it onto the Microsoft Graduate Scheme. You have my best wishes x


Applied for Series 8 of BBC Apprentice

After much support on Twitter and Facebook I have applied to appear on series 8 of BBC Apprentice. At this stage I have mixed feelings about my application. First cause of concern is the impact the show could have on my career if I were to appear on the show (if I were not to win). Secondly I have no idea for what the producers look for in a candidate.

Whilst I can boast about my efforts at Microsoft in the application (which will provide weight), the rest is University related and probably not too unique to others around the country. For the moment though I live in belief that my application has probably disappeared into a pile of thousands.

Whether the filming dates would work around my final year of University is a mystery but appearing on the show would be incredible. Mainly as I believe I could do a better job than most candidates who appear on the show.

Time will tell. I’ll let you all know if I hear anything back from the BBC.


Microsoft UK Launches Intern & Graduate Blog

As of the beginning of this month Microsoft launched their official UK intern and graduate blog Be Your Future. The project is being managed by a current intern called Lillian Hiscox and will be updated daily-ish with new content.

The main aim of the blog is to show prospective Microsoft interns and graduates what it is like working for Microsoft and the lifestyle which comes with it. Already from the posts featured on the blog it is clear of the variety of roles available and the excitement which comes with working for this technological giant.

I have agreed to contribute a blog post each Monday to Be Your Future (a couple of my posts already appear on the site). Plus I will be providing my blogging recommendations to the team as time goes on.

Getting involved with corporate blogging is new to me and I am eager to see how Be Your Future develops.

Please read, comment, subscribe and recommend. 🙂


Microsoft’s “Young Britain Works” Wins EMEA 2011 PR Award


Young Britain Works Facebook Page

Yesterday I was delighted to find out that the Microsoft Young Britain Works citizen project has been awarded a bronze medal in the 2011 Microsoft EMEA PR awards! A huge achievement for the project but the real thanks goes to those Microsoft Interns who have managed to dedicate a large part of their daily roles making sure the project runs smoothly.

I mentioned Young Britain Works, the Microsoft Citizen Project I had become involved with, for the first time in November. Young Britain Works is part of the Microsoft Britain Works pledge to assist 500,000 people in the world of work by 2012 but instead focuses on a new audience, a younger audience.

Young Britain Works is largely driven by a group of Microsoft UK Interns who have used Social Media methods to provide advice to young people surrounding career choices and skills. The main communication point of this project is to use Facebook to drive engagement. However the project has also been using other social marketing methods.


How can you help the project?
It sounds trivial but please ‘Like’ the Young Britain Works Facebook Page. More importantly please recommend the Facebook page to any relevant people you know.

This is still a project in its infancy and so any help possible would be much appreciated.



For the last couple of weeks I have been required to offer job searching advice for young people. I say “young people” but actually the crowd I got to speak with at Microsoft are exactly the same age as me. Which is the risk – I don’t want to come across as the lucky sod who managed to pull the ace from the deck of cards whilst amusing myself on those who got the joker.

That isn’t the point.

I love presenting to people, partly for the attention but mostly because I gain a huge amount of pleasure by offering advice to those who wish to listen. So taking part talking to groups of young people attending Microsoft (as part of the Young Britain Works scheme I believe) is a huge opportunity to literally change lives.

The technical term for such young people is ‘NEETS’, a rather horrid government acronym for those Not in Education, Employment or Training. An acronym which may inspire connotations of jobless hobos or living off society dead-ends. On the contrary all the young people I spoke to where pleasant, some rather professional and simply lost in the busy metropolis to understand what their next move should be.

I suppose being labelled a ‘NEET’ doesn’t help matters – it almost classes an undercurrent of society for whom the world will always shit on. Perhaps FREE would be a better description? No, FREE isn’t a horrid acronym, it just describes the many paths which are open to a NEET.

It may sound grandiose but you will always have options in life. Just don’t think that the world owes you something – it may, but the world will never reward you for an unfortunately upbringing. Attitude is the key. For some reason some are quick to blame the world but often miss that it is themselves which may require the change.

If you are always unlucky have you perhaps pondered upon your own attitude or approaches?

This isn’t a criticism and is an observation from a fellow young person who often spends a great deal of time dwelling within his own thoughts, me. If I spot a weakness (Political correctness requires I say ‘opportunity’) to improve my own skills, approach or understandings then I take it.

Get involved with things and try learning something new each day.

I have a lot of hope for the young people I spoke with and wish them all the best for the future. Some of them don’t realise just how good they really are.


Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
© yushimoto_02

The alarm goes off: 6:30am

(Gaze at the ceiling, find the effort to get out of bed)

I get dressed for work: 7:00am

(Casual or Professional dress?)

I leave the house: 7:30am

(Listen to music whilst walking)

I catch the train: 8:00am

(Read a book/Listen to music)

I arrive in London: 8:55am


I start work: 9am

(I do different stuff here)

I finish work: 5:30pm

I catch the train home: 6pm

(Read a book/Listen to music)

I arrive in town: 6:45pm

(Listen to music)

I walk through the door: 7:15pm

(Have a beer)

I eat: 7:30pm

(Have a beer)

I play guitar: 8pm

(Have a beer)

I read a book: 10:30pm

I go to sleep: 11:30pm

The times may change, the routine may change but on the whole the above is the bedrock of a fulltime job. It takes getting used to, many need time to adjust but it can get repetitive. The trick is to not focus on the routine but the stuff in-between. Make the day varied, keep life interesting and if you get bored… find a new job.