Portrait photograph of: Sam Catling

Sam Catling

Country Of Origin: United Kingdom

Degree: BA Advertising and Marketing Management, 2016

BA Advertising and Marketing Management student Sam secured a placement in the marketing team of IBM.

Doing a year in industry is a perfect way to make the step between being a student and being a full time worker a little less daunting. After my first year in my degree, it soon became clear to me that in order to fully harness my business-related course, I needed some first-hand experience. This could be done through small internships or through taking a placement year. I decided on the latter because I felt as though it would give me the best opportunity to personally develop and get a thorough understanding of working in a business corporation. Also, despite taking a degree in advertising and marketing, I was still unsure which direction I wanted my career to follow. I hoped to gather a better insight into what opportunities were available as well as my limitations, expectations and targets that I needed to achieve to get where I wanted to go.

During my year at IBM, I have been working as part of the Marketing Enablement team for the worldwide billion-dollar product CICS (Customer Information Control System). Some of my core responsibilities involve managing the CICS family webpages and social media pages, coordinating the CICS patent database and meetings, coordinating worldwide Generation Z workshops and also Smart Seminars, and creating exciting marketing collateral for conferences and communications. I have also taken part in the coordination of various conferences, and created a monthly newsletter called the CICS buzz that is read by thousands of CICS clients and business partners from around the world.

It has definitely been better than I initially expected. I had a lot of apprehension before I started the year in industry. I was worried that it would be lonely, I would be surrounded by people I didn’t bond well with, or the work would be incredibly stressful and difficult. While I found some of the work to be a little stressful, I learnt that without these challenges my job wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. Moreover, I have had an opportunity to meet some amazing people – in fact I’ve found I have had a busier social calendar while working than I ever did at university and I have loved it. My placement year experience has not only helped me grow and become more independent in the workplace, but it has massively improved my development as a person by balancing my lifestyle.

I have enjoyed many things during my placement, including the company of my team and the intern community. One thing that has particularly stood out, however, is the ability to apply my creative skills into the role and make the collateral I have created my own. It has been very encouraging having a team that appreciates and challenges my creative judgement and I see that this experience has greatly developed my skills in this area.

The role has given me a fantastic opportunity to expand on my creative and technical skills using key software like Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator, as well as video editing programmes such as Camtasia and Adobe After Effects, and in addition to that Audacity and Photoshop. This skill development has opened my eyes to new possible career paths. During my year I have shadowed Design teams to get a taste of some of the other creative options I can take within the company.

One of the most valuable things that LUMS offered during my placement application process was an IBM practice assessment centre. Speaking to real IBMers who have been through the process before and getting the hints and tips from them became indispensable for my IBM assessment centre. I highly recommend students take advantage of these extra sessions available in LUMS.