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From Student Comms to Internal Comms

As a student, my dislike for emails was through the roof. Every time my phone vibrated, and an email notification came up, the deep sigh I would make was intense. I never appreciated the effort it took to send these comms out. When you are a student on the receiving end, constant emails and updates seemed like a fly you couldn't get rid of, you could hear the buzzing past your ear but couldn't find its location. However, life has a funny way of showing you things - who would have thought that a couple of months later I would become that fly sending the same comms to students.

On the offset, I never thought I would end up in this role as a Graduate Assistant for Diversity and Inclusion - neither did I think the recruitment process would be so simple. This job post came at a time where I had given up on graduate job searching, or any job searching at that. After countless rejections, I decided to sit back and let life take me where it wanted me to go. It started with a LinkedIn post by my (now) manager, Charlie, stating that he was looking for a graduate assistant to join his team, which was referred to me by Frances - someone who I look to for career advice and who gives me guidance. At first, I did not give it much thought, as working for the same institution you graduated from seemed like an odd concept to me, but then again there was no harm in trying, the worst thing that can happen is rejection (which I got a lot of during job searching, so I was used to it!).

Frances introduced me to Charlie and I sent my CV over to him. He then set up a meeting, which felt more like a conversation, and I later received a phone call offering me the job. Never have I have been offered a job that I didn't officially apply for – but I'm not complaining! As I said, life has its weird way of working things out.

One of the many reasons that I quickly accepted the role was due to the important work that is done in the D&I team, especially the opportunities provided by the team and the way they are communicated to the students in their care. I know how important it is as a student to have someone in your corner, who you truly know is doing everything they can to help you reach the next level. My days often include creating promotional comms for any events that we have coming up, replying to any emails in my inbox and the Future Black Talent Programme (FBTP) inbox, and meeting with students who have booked a CV appointment. The day-to-day tasks I do vary and are dependent on what type of day it is! Some days are more overwhelming than others, especially when those days require me to send a mass number of communications at once.

Now that I am the one sending out emails, answering student emails and doing general communication admin, I cannot emphasise how meticulous internal comms is. Sometimes all the communication I do almost makes me feel like a teacher! Responding to questions you have already answered in your previous mail merge or sending out the same information repeatedly to the same group. I will say that, being on the other side of internal comms, I see how much tenacity it has given me and made me realise how much I enjoy sending out comms to different groups of people. It's shown me how I can make internal comms more engaging for students, for example, I know as a student I did not appreciate information overload, so one of the things I've done in my role is created an email template for mail merges that allows me to adapt my conversation style to different groups.

As a student, I appreciated messages that were simple and direct with information, which is how I have designed the way I communicate with students. I've created a recognisable template with our logo clearly displayed that I slot all the relevant information into, such as date and time, what students can expect from the event I'm promoting, and relevant contact information. In this way, I have easily been able to connect with the students through my various comms, as they are familiar to the students helping to break down the awkward student/staff connection. Also, in some ways, I still see myself as a student and I think some of the students see me that way too so engaging with them is easier for me.

Starting this career that includes a lot of internal comms has shown me that this is the career for me. I was never aware that internal communication is an actual career field until I spoke with Sarah Magee from the IoIC who made me realise that essentially everything I do in this role and some of my previous roles is internal comms and has highlighted to me how much I enjoy internal comms. Even though I've only been in the role for two months, I've seen how I've grown and progressed in such a short amount of time and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me and for internal communication. 

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022
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