The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a wave of serious changes. Unfortunately, placement opportunities have been one of those areas impacted. Consequently, my placement year at Enterprise Rent-A-Car was cut short by 3 months. While deeply upset, this period has also given me time to reflect on my experience as I prepare for my final year of university.
The opportunity to undertake a placement year was one of the main things that attracted me to my course. As a second year fully immersed in my little student life bubble, I was never quite sure which avenue I wanted to take. All I knew is that I wanted something that complemented my degree of Management, Politics and International Relations. After reviewing placement options with the LUMS Careers Team, I was immediately drawn to PR and Corporate Communications.
When the time came to start applying for placement opportunities, like most students, ‘Rate My Placement’ was my first port of call. I remember working tirelessly for over a month and receiving numerous rejections. I particularly struggled with the psychometric tests, and I soon realised that I had to change my technique to focus more on companies that did not require this. I stumbled across Enterprise. Intrigued at the thought of working for a car rental company, I followed the link. Not thinking much about my application, I quickly progressed onto the next stage. I couldn’t help but think that this would solely revolve around renting cars. Given that I have very little interest in cars, I started to question whether this was the company for me. However, this perspective quickly changed after my successful assessment centre where I was able to speak with current staff and placement students. From this point, the prospect of potentially working at the European headquarters for a year immediately drew me in.
Enterprise was my first experience of the fast-paced corporate world. I quickly became aware that my placement consisted of learning by doing, not by making coffee all day. Rather, my role was designed to give me a real understanding of how a multinational company like Enterprise operates throughout its franchise and corporately owned markets and reflect on how communications is integral in their operations. It was fascinating to be in a department that works closely with Enterprise’s global headquarters in America. I loved how varied my role was which included taking responsibility for award entries, internal communications, speech writing, press releases, analysing day-to-day news, campaign management and even strategic and crisis communication initiatives, which of course was very relevant given the global pandemic. Not many people can say they worked with senior vice presidents, managed agencies across five European markets and presented to employees across campus during their internship. Through all of this, I developed a number of transferable skills, such as intercultural team-working, written and verbal communication, time-management, analytical and presentation skills. I am certain that these skills will enhance my employability and equip me in my future career.
By far, the best part of my role was supporting the corporate environmental and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. I have always been very keen to be involved in an environment which focusses not only on business goals, but also on the lives of those less fortunate. I identified strongly with many of Enterprise’s founding values, most notably the emphasis placed on strengthening communities – one neighbourhood at a time. I was able to experience this within my role when I helped lead the FareShare Food Drive. This was an initiative to deliver genuine change to combat hunger across many communities in the UK. In doing this, I helped lead a team of 30 volunteers from Enterprise, including the UK & Ireland Managing Director, to encourage shoppers to donate essential food items. One thing that became clear to me was that Enterprise is so much more than a car rental company. Leading this event further highlighted that even as an intern I was still given so many opportunities to expand my experiences and learn about all aspects of the business.
Another aspect of Enterprise that stood out to me was the unique culture. Even outside my job, the opportunities were endless. I was able to get involved in various activities and committees such as Race, Religion and Ethnicity (RRE), Boss Women, Charity and Drive Magazine. In each of these, I was always made to feel welcomed and my opinions were valued. Additionally, Enterprise offered me times of fun and relaxation such as weekly personal training sessions, campus beauty therapist treatments, crazy golf tournaments and Winter Ball. All of these made my placement more enriching and rewarding and was a great way for me to interact and connect with lots of employees from different departments. I was even selected as one of the 10 Enterprise employees to take part in the Cross Organisational Mentoring Circles (COMC) programme organised by Business in the Community (BITC). This 6-month initiative was designed to bring together peer level mentees from BAME backgrounds across different organisations and sectors, to maximise their full potential and to facilitate career progression. Programmes like this confirmed Enterprise’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. This, in my perspective, is what makes Enterprise a great place for employees like me to thrive.
Overall, my placement at Enterprise has been truly invaluable, enabling me to put the theory I have learnt at university into practise. Above all, it has helped me to grow both personally and professionally. One word to describe my experience – unforgettable. I was welcomed into the Enterprise family from the very first day, and I am most grateful for the support I got from each member of the PR and Communications team. I hope to become a part time Campus Brand Manager when I return to university to help encourage more students to apply to Enterprise. It truly exceeded my expectations with regards to the responsibility I was given and the opportunities I had.
My advice to anyone looking for placement opportunities is to;
- Take time to do your research and on the company, you’re interested in – it really does help to know some key facts and figures about them.
- Think carefully about what you want to achieve and express this when applying.
- Attend as many career fairs as possible to gain personal interaction with employers.
- Utilise the LUMS Careers Team – they are there to help and guide you.