Category Archives: FAQ

How much is expected from an Agency Life Employer?

MMU Agency Life

In order for Agency Life to work properly, we need to make sure you know what to expect. We’ve mentioned what you can expect from our students in our post about projects but we also need you to know what we and the students need from you. It’s not very onerous.

  • Students will need to regard you as an employer. So – the thing you do with all employees is make sure they’re in when you expect them to be. A key life experience is “turning up for work” and we rely on you to make sure that’s covered.
  • At the end of Term 1, you’ll need to check the student proposed Personal Development Plan (PDP) – a short A4 document – and you’ll need to agree that you think it’s what the student should do in order to develop and improve throughout Term 2.
  • At the end of Term…

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The Importance of Work Experience

MMU Agency Life

I regularly meet people in industry from Manchester at networking events, award ceremonies and conferences. Conversation inevitably comes around to someone saying they need staff but those people “must have experience”.  We can’t “teach” experience at University, it’s something that can only be acquired in the workplace. Graduates can be trapped after finishing University because they might have knowledge but all of the job ads say “Must have experience.” Employers are trapped because they feel they need someone who can hit the ground running but can’t find anyone – and most people who have post-university experience are in a different price range.

So it’s important that Agency Life is here. It’s an opportunity for undergraduates to gain important skills from the workplace that they can demonstrate to future employees. It’s an opportunity for agency and client employers to provide that experience in a convenient way and for them to make sure that undergraduates are getting…

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How do I know if I’m right for an Agency Life Internship?

Our experience shows that these internships work well under certain conditions:

  • Buy-in from the most senior people in the organisation – unless you have this and someone at the top champions this, you’ll find it difficult to maintain the momentum.
  • A recruitment process – your internship will work well if you run a formal recruitment process. We recommend choosing candidates who ineterst you (or who choose you), inviting them for a formal interview or other formal approaches to recruitment. Seeing them in the flesh is better than a phone interview. If you want to see a lot of candidates before making a decision, why not run an open evening or an assessment centre?
  • Real, challenging work for an intern to do – have tasks and deadlines involving real work that needs doing. Whilst we appreciate the repetitive nature of some work, a variety of work is important. The focus must balance creating value for you whilst maintaining the development of skills and experience for the intern.
  • Proper, regular management supervision – the intern needs to be managed properly: work needs to be reviewed, errors corrected. We advise that you manage your intern in the same way as you would manage a new recruit.
  • Guidance and supervision from a professional in the discipline – you should assume nothing other than your intern will not know how to do much: that’s the point of the experience. What they will have (and you will have interviewed for this) is bucketloads of energy, passion and enthusiasm. So – make sure that the person managing the intern has the skills and capability you want to see in the intern. What this shows is you cannot expect an intern to come and do work you cannot do yourself.
  • Somewhere for the intern to sit – deskspace – your intern needs to be at your site and feel like they are part of the business.
  • Kit for the intern to use – don’t assume that your intern will definitely have a machine to bring with them, and you may want to think about having a machine they can use. Also consider the wisdom of an intern accessing material on a machine that you have no control over.
  • Training and development in the tasks that you want the intern to be proficient in – without proper training, it may be difficult for you intern to develop the skills you would want in them – and that will mean they cannot provide any value to you.

 

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FAQ: How to read and manage the Student CVs for Agency Life Internships

Every so often registered employers  receive an email with a new batch of CVs to consider. Creating the CV is a hurdle for the students to overcome as they have to work out what info from their regular CV you want to see. We know that this means that students have to make an effort, and that those who get their profiles done are the ones moving forward.

CAVEAT! CVs get posted “as is” – we don’t check them.

So – first thing you can do from this article is grab one of the student CVs (available from the Student CVs section to the right – they are broken down into the 4 courses on which Agency Life students  study) and follow this guide. Dealing with the CV is pretty straightforward but there are some things of interest.

  • You’ll see we’ve asked the student to include their student ID – e.g. ‘12345678’. This is helpful for you because it means that you can communicate with him directly should you want to. Student IDs form the student email address system. To email that student you would simply append ‘12345678’ (changing 12345678 for the actual student ID) to the domain ‘@stu.mmu.ac.uk‘. We’ve done it this way to avoid any robot trawling issues of student email addresses.
  • We’ve also made sure that students identify which programme they’re on. Students may also indicate here if they are on a sandwich programme, which means that they’re going to be looking for a year out in industry in their 3rd year – something to bear in mind.
  • You’ll also notice that we’ve asked for a LinkedIn address – again you may want to connect directly with the student through this. Useful for now in communicating with the student but also think about the future.
  • We’ve asked for students to reveal their pre-University qualifications so you get an idea of their 16-18 performance (and any other awards they may have put themselves up for)
  • There’s a section where we’ve asked them to show their marks they’ve got so far in the first year. I’ve warned students to be brutally honest here – and students won’t hide the fact that one or two of their grades might be less than perfect.
  • I’ve also asked the students to emphasise 6 things they want from their internship. Look at this carefully and see whether you are going to be offering an internship that will go some way to heeling the student achieve their experience objectives.
  • The personal statement is a freeform bit – hopefully you’ll learn a little about the student. And some students will already have some ideas about future jobs and will put these in the last box –some students might not say more than ‘I haven’t decided yet’ , because they’re still making their minds up and wants to use the experience of Agency Life to start to determine what they’re truly interested in: a wise choice.

Each CV should be enough to make you decide whether you’d want to pursue any further connection with a student for any formal or informal discussion. Once we have a CV and it’s been mailed out to the mailing list, they are placed up on the MMU Agency Life Scribd Board (as mentioned above you can access these via the Agency Life web site  on the right hand side under ‘Student CVs’) and they are broken down in to the different courses the students study. CVs will remain there until a student and an organisation have agreed an internship, so you’ll always she able to go and look at the ‘back catalogue’. 

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Intellectual Property and Disclosure in Agency Life

When a student works with you on an Agency Life experience, they are like any other employee. Work they they create is like work that any employee creates when they are part of your organisation. How do you deal with the issue of IP with your employees? I guess like most firms, any work that an employee does belongs to you (or your client if your an agency depending on how you configure that relationship). So you manage your students’ work for you in the same way.

Disclosure is another important issue and again we would say that you manage the issue of disclosure as you would with your employees. Do you ask your employees to sign NDAs? If you have clients and you are asked to sign one for them, how do you convey that message to your staff? It’s the same approach with our students and you should treat them like you would any employee. If you are asking our students to sign NDAs, we suggest that you sit down with them and explain what they mean. Its likely to be the first time they will have seen one. Discuss the consequences and the importance of non-disclosure, and why they mustn’t tell people certain things. Our students will be doing a lot of writing at times – some of it may involve blogging or tweeting – so make sure you’re happy with content that they’re producing and aks to see things before they publish them.

As an aside, MMU staff are not permitted to sign NDAs as this puts the University into a position of liability which it may not care to take. The only person who may sign an NDA is the Vice-Chancellor – if one needs signing by a member of University staff, let us know.

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To Good to be True?

A bright, young and enthusiastic person to work each week in your business for free? It’s too good to be true surely.

HMRC guidelines mean that if someone comes to work at your business, they have to be paid. Well that’s true if it’s not part of a timetabled course or curriculum. But Agency Life is a curriculum project. 25% of a 2nd year student’s study and grades on one of our Marketing Management, Advertising & Brand Management, Retail Marketing or PR & Digital programmes are devoted to Agency Life. Timetable and study time is given over for engagement with the Agency Life programme. This means students have both the time and the grade allocation dedicated to this project. As a result, it meets HMRC guidelines that allow someone to work within an organisation for a specified amount of time each week throughout an academic year.

Many of our Agency Life hosts have asked – “What about if I spot someone who I’d like to do a bit of extra work for us? Am I allowed to pay them to come in for a few extra hours or an extra day?” The answer is  – YES. In small pilot studies we’ve done, organisations often recognise talent and want to retain it somehow – either because the talent is generating value or because they recognise the future value of that talent. If you have extra things you’d like students to do above and beyond their commitment to the Agency Life work with you, it’s a nice gesture. It will make that student into an ambassador for your firm inside the student body. And it’s additional work experience for someone who might otherwise might have to earn their part-time money in an unrelated and probably unrewarding part-time role.

Other firms have asked – “Can we set a target which we’d like the students to achieve – and if they do so, can we give them some kind of financial incentive?” Again the answer is – YES. If you’re going to generate real value from your students, you may feel like you want to share some of the reward. And it’s part of real work experience – experiencing the joy of achieving (or disappointment of missing) a target is a real part of work life.

We must stress – these are gestures from you the employers. There’s no compunction or requirement to do so. A lot of the relationship between you and the students will be down to you and the work you do together. Our main requirement is they get experience that gets them jobs in the long run and that’s more important than a few quid now.

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Agency Life: The Elevator Pitch to Employers

We need to find homes for our  who make up the student body from our marketing, PR, advertising and branding.

Agency Life is a response to the need to provide industry with graduates who have experience (most job ads ask this). It’s a fairly low effort from the client company but provides maximum returns to those that engage. It’s the first time we’ve run this – in response to industry requests – so now it’s time for that industry to come on board with this social contract and respond.

The Elevator Pitch is:

  • Each firm (whether agency or client-side, whether a 1 person business or a FTSE100) will can take at leas one  2nd year students who will work the equivalent of a day a week for an academic year. The persons being (on average) 20 year old, inexperienced but bright, enthusiastic talent.
  • It costs the firm nothing in wages – this scheme is within the HMRC approved guidelines as it is part of a taught programme.
  • Each student need to spend a minimum of one morning or afternoon per week at the chosen location of their firm – be that onsite or with a client. Locations need to be within Greater Manchester. The rest of the time can be spent at their home working on the tasks given or at your location.
  • If you chose to take a team of students then they can all come in on one day, or they can be split into individuals and come in on different days of the week (please negotiate this with the students due to timetables).
  • A student can work on one project, several projects at the same time or a series of projects. Work does not even have to be project based and can be the tasks and roles one would normally expect of an entry-level person. In summary:
    • A whole team could work on a project all year
    • A whole team could work on several projects one after the other
    • A whole team could work on several projects at any one time
    • Individuals could be assigned to different tasks with different client staff each work
    • A team could come in on the same day each week
    • The team could be split for different tasks
    • Individuals could come in on different days for completely unrelated tasks

Pretty much any arrangement is fine.

Host firms have a few duties of care and responsibilities:

  • Each student needs to be supervised, so someone needs to act as their manager. This will involve setting the tasks, acting as an employer, managing the team. There are some small elements to play in the assessment of these students – but it’s small, uncomplicated and for many employers it’s a satisfying way of being part of the student engagement. The key thing is that the employers provide a real experience of working life over the year, experience that they would be happy to accept as real experience when interviewing for staff in the future.
  • The team could be supervised as a whole by one person, or individuals could be supervised by individual host employer staff members.
  • Suggestions for tasks/projects include:
    • A research project that has been hanging around for ages but nobody has had space to look at
    • Pro-bono work that a firm has picked up but there’s no space for anyone to do it
    • Tasks that need doing that are important but not urgent
    • Sudden influxes of work that need lots of help
    • Detail work that can be completed with some initial training
    • Making the tea once in a while (a good task when you need to learn what everyone is called and what they do)
    • Managing events

There’s no end to what’s possible and there’s nothing we’ll rule out.

The whole programme has a dedicated client manager, plus Sarah Penney as the Academic director – plus lots of ex-agency coaches coming into the Uni to support the students.

Please sign up today. We know it will make an enormous difference to you, your firm and your future talent.

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What kind of project can Agency Life students do?

We’ve got several different kinds of student working on Agency Life from September – they come from different course routes (but have very similar educational outcomes from their first year at university – the second year is where they start to specialise).

Our routes are: Marketing Management, Advertising & Brand Management, Retail Marketing, PR & Digital.

There’s no limit to what students can do – there should be some link between the work they carry out within your firm and their career aspirations. There’s no distinction between offline and digital as we realise that all our students need experience in both. We’d love to have projects that are based within PR firms, full service marketing firms, digital agencies, advertising agencies and communications businesses.

As an example it makes sense that PR students engage with a PR company (or the PR function of an organisation). But those students aren’t limited to that kind of work or that kind of organisation.

What can students tackle? Remember your first day at work? What did you do? What did you find useful/would you have found useful? Students are going to be working with you for 2 terms, at least half a day on your chosen site and half a day back at MMU. What would you like doing? Is it every day work that needs hands? Do you have a project that needs starting and completing? Have you committed to a pro bono piece that you’ve not had to time to do? Is there research that needs picking up? Do you have a part of the business that could do with a bit of extra help? Where could you benefit from a fresh set of eyes unfettered by baggage and “can’t be done” attitudes.

The key things is – it’s up to you. We want your student group to add value to what you do – and the value they get is experience. What experience do you want when you hire graduates? Think about it and then say – how could I provide that experience here?

Have a look at our post “Can you be an Agency Life agency?” and see if it’s something you can offer. It won’t cost you anything.

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The Importance of Work Experience

I regularly meet people in industry from Manchester at networking events, award ceremonies and conferences. Conversation inevitably comes around to someone saying they need staff but those people “must have experience”.  We can’t “teach” experience at University, it’s something that can only be acquired in the workplace. Graduates can be trapped after finishing University because they might have knowledge but all of the job ads say “Must have experience.” Employers are trapped because they feel they need someone who can hit the ground running but can’t find anyone – and most people who have post-university experience are in a different price range.

So it’s important that Agency Life is here. It’s an opportunity for undergraduates to gain important skills from the workplace that they can demonstrate to future employees. It’s an opportunity for agency and client employers to provide that experience in a convenient way and for them to make sure that undergraduates are getting “that kind” of experience they’re looking for. Without your help we can’t meet your needs.

So – please look at Agency Life. Keep in touch with the web site, follow our Twitter feed (@MMUAgencyLife) and “Like” our Facebook Page. We’re hoping you can join us as an “Agency Life Employer.”

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