Name: Alex Calder
Degree and university: BA in history and politics from University College Dublin.
MSc in Global Economic History from the London School of Economics.
Job Title: Junior account executive at workplace communication consultancy, CHA.
What do you actually do?
The majority of my day is taken up writing feature synopses, drafting press releases, arranging interviews, talking to journalists about what they are working on, and liaising between clients and the media.
Were you always interested in this sector?
I had never considered a career in PR, but after university I was trying to decide what direction to go in, and became interested in PR as an area that gives you the opportunity to write and to be a bit creative, and to get good general media experience.
How did you find out about this job?
As I had no real experience in the area, I was interested in doing a work experience programme and came across CHA’s award winning three-month placement on work-experience.org. After two months on the work experience programme I was offered a full-time position as a junior account executive.
Would you undertake further study to gain promotion?
CHA has training bursaries for all employees and I intend to go on a dedicated course to improve my news and feature writing skills. It will help me to do my job more effectively, and will stand to me in the future whether I am working in PR or journalism, another area I am interested in.
What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides?
I love seeing interviews or stories that we have arranged in print, and I enjoy the unexpected element that comes with last minute journalist requests, and the rush to fulfil them. There is a great atmosphere in the office, everyone is very supportive and always ready to help with any of the many new challenges each day brings!
It can be difficult to coordinate everything when working on several clients, so managing my time effectively has often been the biggest challenge – but the more I do, the easier it becomes.
What skills do you need to succeed?
It is important to be confident – in your writing, and in your ability to communicate effectively with people. You also need to be able to demonstrate a certain amount of tact and diplomacy when dealing with people.
What advice would you give graduates interested in what you do?
If you get the opportunity to do a work experience placement, take it. PR is a very competitive sector, and work experience gives you an edge on other graduates – as well as a foot in the door of a good agency. A sense of humour and the ability to work under pressure help as well!