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The 2016 Highest Achiever of the Foundation Diploma, Rebecca Leonard, tells us about her experience of studying for the IoIC qualification.

Which role were you in when you decided to embark on the Foundation Diploma?
I was – and still am – an Editor at Sequel Group, an internal communication (IC) agency based in London. I provide a mix of comms support for my clients, but I principally focus on content and strategy.

Why did you sign up for the Foundation Diploma? 

Like everyone else in this industry it seems, I strayed into IC almost by accident after starting out in publishing. The Foundation Diploma was the perfect opportunity to solidify the skills I’ve picked up over the last few years and gain a wider knowledge of the IC industry.
What did you find particularly useful?
As part of the assessment, you compile a portfolio of your work. It allows you to step back and think about how your skills and experience match up to professional criteria. It was gratifying – and sometimes a pleasant surprise! – to realise that on the whole my work was on the right track. And, perhaps most usefully, it helped me to see where there were gaps in my knowledge so I could pinpoint areas for development.
What challenged you the most?
Even though I have past experience of working in-house, initially I almost felt like I was at a disadvantage as the only agency worker in my cohort and wondered if it was all going to be relevant to me. But after getting into the swing of things, and talking to the course leaders, I was assured that the base skills and knowledge were the same for all communicators, no matter your background.
What did you do for your industry project?
I took a slightly different approach to the industry project. Rather than writing about a current project, I chose to write about a communication campaign that I ran during my time managing an intranet for Volkswagen Group customer service employees. This meant I could add an extra element into my project: self-reflection. Because I knew the campaign’s outcome, I could reflect and think about what worked and what I could have done better.
How did you find the self-study element of the diploma?
I found that dedicating any momentary ‘downtime’ to my wider reading was particularly useful for staying on top of my studies. Also, I was strict with myself about getting evidence for the portfolio, gathering it throughout the year rather than trying to do it all in a mad panic two weeks before the deadline (not that any of us have ever been guilty of that…).
What has changed for you as a result of the Foundation Diploma?
Since completing the diploma, I’ve become more confident in my abilities and it’s really helped me to identify which areas I should be focusing on to further develop in my career. It also seems to have given me the studying bug – I’ve signed up to start the IoIC Advanced Diploma in 2017.
What would you say to anyone who was thinking about undertaking the Foundation Diploma?
Go for it! No matter what point you’re at in your career, studying for the diploma will help you to see your work in a new light and gives you the push you need to develop your skills. 

Book your place on the next Foundation Diploma cohort, starting on Monday 23 January, here or contact Sarah Magee at [email protected] or 01908 237 564 to ask any questions. 
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