Marketing, advertising and PR Career Guide

Gaining experience

Marketing & PR

Marketing and PR are highly popular career choices for graduates in the UK. Competition for jobs in this sector is fierce and work experience could be the deciding factor to secure a graduate job. Undertaking work experience will help you to develop expertise and the all-important transferable skills, which will help demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work. What's more, work experience can help you to understand the workplace, and to build contacts, plus it can help you decide if a career in this sector is right for you.

On this page you will find out more about the types of work experience opportunities that might be available to you, as well as some top tips to assist you in your search! 

Types of opportunities

A number of large companies and agencies advertise paid summer internships, which may lead to a graduate position for successful recruits. Some employers also offer open days, taster experiences, and short introductory courses to gain work experience.

The examples of large companies and agencies offering and advertising internships in the sector, listed below, will give you an idea of the sorts of opportunities that may be available. You'll need to do thorough research to identify further specific opportunities.

  • Barclays
  • Tesco
  • Unilever
  • IBM
  • FleishmannHillard Fishburn – one of the UK’s top ten communication specialists agency. Offers ad hoc internship opportunities throughout the year which can provide a grounding for anyone wanting to work in public relations, public affairs, and social and digital communications.
  • PRCA – this UK-based PR membership body initiated a campaign to encourage a more professional approach to internships in the PR sector. Their campaign is called Better Internships and the web pages provide listing of all PR agencies offering paid internships.
  • Hotwire Global – a communications agency advertising internship opportunities in the sector.
  • Inspiring Interns – offers listings of internships in the sector, particularly in the South of England.
  • Step Recruitment - provider of paid student internships and placements.

Find out more about internships

Work placements can provide you with an invaluable insight into working life and offer you an opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies. Placements will also enable you to develop transferable skills in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and time management, in addition to finding out more about a specific job role or industry, which will lead to more informed decisions upon graduating.

On some degrees work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Many courses at the University of Portsmouth enable you to complete a one year work placement or self-employment placement; should you choose to undertake either, your first point of contact is your placement office in your faculty.

Search for advertised placements at:


Learn more about taking a placement


Some students who study Marketing choose to take a Self-Employed Placement. This allows you to work for yourself during your placement year and receive support from the University's Student Startup Team. You will have access to funding opportunities, networking events and workshops.

Learn more about Self-Employed Placements 

It is also well worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience. Think broadly about the sort of volunteering role that might provide the opportunity to develop transferable skills. Perhaps focus initially on voluntary organisations offering roles in event management, marketing or publicity, but don’t dismiss volunteering roles that might give you the chance to use and demonstrate relevant skills, for example, fundraising opportunities within third-sector organisations offer the chance to develop key transferable skills, such as the ability to build and maintain relationships, the capability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, strong project management skills, and a proactive attitude.

Volunteering in a marketing or communications role within the Students’ Union, or a University society or club, for example as the Publicity Officer, Media Secretary, Marketing Manager, or Events Volunteer will similarly enable you to strengthen those all-important key transferable skills.

Our Volunteering Bank provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies, listing roles such as:

  • Social Media Coordinator Volunteer with Loaves of Love

  • Marketing Assistant Volunteer with the YOU Trust

  • Marketing and Communications Volunteer with the Hampshire History Trust

  • Collaborative Social Media Volunteer with the Endometriosis Trust

Learn more about our Volunteering Team


Create your own experience

Digital media and technology is key in this sector for achieving marketing and PR goals, therefore, a strong understanding and use of different forms of social media and web technologies is desirable for someone wanting to work in the sector. This is an area where it’s possible to create your own experience; check out the below for some ideas to get you started! 

Develop your own website

Someone who has set up their own website and developed an understanding of some of the tools of the trade such, as SEO (search engine optimisation), web analytics and content management systems, will have an advantage over those who have not – graduate recruiters prize evidence of students using their initiative to prepare for their chosen career. Many of the relevant tools are available online and you can learn them for free, for example Facebook MediaSocial Media ExaminerNeil Patel, and Razor Social. What is more, in creating your own website you can demonstrate your creativity through your written and copywriting skills.

Work with startups/start your own business

Start-ups are a good place to look to offer skilled help and support that will in turn develop your transferable skills for the sector. You may have your own business idea which you can pursue, which will demonstrate not only your enthusiasm and ambition, but evidence of doing things yourself.

Expert advice and support from the University’s student startup support team, will help you to get your idea off the ground. The Student Startup team offers a wide range of events, developmental workshops and pitching opportunities to help you get your business up and running.

Be active online

Producing your own blog, getting involved in Twitter feeds, podcasts, and joining in discussion groups on LinkedIn, all serve to demonstrate your skills in communication and digital technology.

Just remember, whatever you are doing online, keep it up to date and professional – it’s important to control your online presence – you want to ensure you are presenting yourself to the outside world, and particularly the business world, as you would wish to be seen.

Approach local businesses

You might consider approaching a local small business, say your local restaurant whose social media pages you notice are not up to date, and ask them if you could volunteer to help with updating and maintaining their content.

Speculative applications

Whilst advertised internships or work experience opportunities may be limited and highly competitive, a good number of students secure work experience in this sector through speculative applications. These involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships. Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry. 


Find out more about speculative applications

PGT/Postgraduate Taught use only

Tips for success when looking for experience

  • Research companies and agencies offering summer internships, vacation placements, taster experiences, or introductory courses.
  • Build your knowledge and understanding of the sector through trade press and online, so that you can keep up to date with industry trends and developments.
  • Get involved in University extra-curricular activities related to your interests such as with the Students' Union or with University clubs or societies; here you can develop skills and experience in relevant communications roles.
  • Write your own material either for student publications or your own blog, or take on an editorial role to hone your written skills.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers - see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
  • Speak to your tutor or other members of Faculty staff to identify potential networking opportunities that could lead to work experience.
  • Make the most of opportunities to meet industry professionals at events both within the University and externally to build your network of contacts.
  • Remember, although direct work experience may be difficult to secure, any other work in a commercial context may be helpful, so think broadly about the relevant sector skills you are seeking to develop and pursue opportunities where you might be able to use these.



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