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Samantha Harris at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles


Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Introduction to the company:
My placement has been at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles which is one of the five brands that make up Volkswagen Group UK; the other brands being Volkswagen, ŠKODA, SEAT and Audi. The Head office is in Milton Keynes and the Group is responsible for the planning and supply, sales, marketing and aftersales of the vehicles that come into the UK from the many factories abroad. 

A brief introduction to me:
I am studying Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Worcester and I decided to take a placement year due to the increased competition in the market for graduates leaving university. Even the smallest local companies are advertising entry-level marketing roles with requirements for a degree and, more often than not, at least one year of experience. There is simply no other way to get your foot in the door and get yourself noticed than to gain a year of experience whilst at university to ensure that you graduate with the best possible offerings to strengthen your chance when applying to jobs. 

Not only did I want to complete a placement year due to it enhancing my CV, I believe that putting the skills learned from Year 1 and 2 at university into practice in a company would mean that my final year would be much easier to comprehend and visualise. In addition, earning a full salary for 12 months is an extremely good benefit and so this also attracted me to seek a placement. 

What were you responsibilities?
In summary, as Marketing Communications Assistant for Volkwagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV), I existed to support the small marketing communications team on all levels – local marketing, national marketing, social media, CRM and web/digital.

In more detail, I mostly supported the local marketing for the brand which meant I was responsible for a variety of things; from briefing in and approving local marketing assets, to assisting with social media content calendars and organising photoshoots. With over 70 retailers in the network, I was also the point of contact for the retailers if they had any marketing-related queries.

When supporting the national marketing manager, I mainly assisted with finding appropriate assets to use in digital advertising, press advertising etc and supported any elements of campaigns which translated into the local marketing arena.

I was responsible for managing a regular fleet communication newsletter and towards the end of my placement, initiated the creation of a new more developed system to allow the brand to communicate more effectively with their fleet customers.

Other responsibilities included: marketing admin, invoicing, monitoring social media, managing retailer-facing websites; organising and creating product collateral, corporate identity management, internal comms, POS management and another project at the Group called Gender Intelligence. 

How did my skills develop?
I would summarise that my skills have developed in three ways – I have become more knowledgeable in the marketing industry; I have become more confident and I have gained project management skills.

Firstly, the amount of technical knowledge and terminology that I have picked up on during placement will assist me well in my final year. I understand the marketing processes in much better detail and fully understand how integrated different marketing channels need to be to create an effective campaign. What’s more, with the industry changing to become more digital, I have been able to watch VWCV and the other brands take this on board and adjust their marketing strategy appropriately.

Secondly, my confidence has grown since being on placement and I believe this is due to the amount and range of stakeholders that I have been able to work with only placement and thus testing my ability to manage projects and understand how to liaise with different levels of management. It has certainly made me more confident for future roles to know that I am able to work with such a diverse group of people.

Finally, being part of a lean team with lots of work, I have been able to take on lots of different responsibilities at once. This is without doubt increased my time management and multi-tasking skills as well as learning how to manage expectations with stakeholders. What’s more, I was lucky enough to be responsible for different projects such as photoshoots and video shoots which required a huge amount of project management skills which I haven’t experienced prior to my placement.

What did you achieve?
My main achievement has been in the development of my skills listed above, however, other achievements have been executing independent projects successfully and then seeing the outcome of the project being used by the business and brand.

Another achievement has been the amount of people that I have been able to work with and prove to them that I can confidently and successfully produce the work and outcomes that are required and therefore prove that I have potential to work successfully in marketing and to support a brand like VWCV – this has been supported by good words from colleagues and receiving achievement ‘cheques’ from the brand which recognise work that I’ve done.