My name is Danny Kent, I’m a 4th year BSc Marketing student who completed a placement year in European PR & Communications at Samsung Electronics.
My placement year was a rich and diverse insight into the operations of a multinational brand. Having completed a lengthy application process including steps such as online tests, digital interviews and assessment centres, I began with an induction week where I learned everything about Samsung; its products, history, culture and systems. With the extensive help of the placements office, I had done plenty of prior research for both my application and also to get placement-ready, but this added another layer of useful knowledge for me to begin working with.
Samsung’s fast-paced culture was emphasised strongly by everyone I spoke to before starting, and it was just so from start to finish on placement year. Within my first month, I was already heavily involved in the launch and reporting of a major flagship mobile: Galaxy Note10. Almost immediately after, we had major tradeshows and campaigns to complete before the end of the year, including a major tech tradeshow, IFA, in Berlin in September as well as an anniversary campaign, SpaceSelfie in October. This busy schedule is indicative of Samsung’s leading role in global business, and of the technology industry itself in its constantly evolving landscape.
In terms of direct experience, I was so fortunate in that Samsung’s interns are an integral part of their team structures and so are treated as genuine employees. This meant I had more responsibility than I ever imagined before starting and was provided with so many opportunities. Highlights for me include leading the organisation of over 300 journalists and media representatives in exclusive pre-briefings of the Galaxy S20 in Munich, Germany; arranging and conducting interviews with leading fashion media outlets such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair for Cara Delevigne (an amazing day in London at the Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras) and also working directly with film crews on independent campaigns such as Galaxy Note10 sustain, where we worked with an artist called Hey Reilly to deliver a project called ‘Mobile Masterpieces’.
A few months into my placement experience, my line manager departed and the team was a manager short for quite some time. From then on, I reported into a new manager but I really feel that this moment was a big checkpoint in my year in industry because I needed to step up to help the team further in managing our busy schedule with a reduced team size. This increased involvement and responsibility was integral to the growth and development I feel so lucky to have had in my time at Samsung. The launch of S20 in Munich (February 2020) felt like the first big step in this process, being the first major flagship campaign I had taken a leading role in. Our calendar from then on was packed with events and work I was really excited for: media trips to HQ in Korea, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Fuorisalone in Milan and IFA in Berlin. Unfortunately, the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic would curtail all of these trips and throw us into an unprecedented period for businesses, and see me working from home for virtually the entirety of my remaining months at the company.
With hindsight, despite the frustrations and uncertainty at the time, the shift to entirely digital working through the pandemic gave me experience in how to adapt and overcome swiftly in times of hardship and uncertainty, as well as how to work remotely. We delivered our first ever virtual launch and pre-briefings of the Galaxy Note20, and also an augmented reality event called ‘Life Unstoppable’, where we worked with digital agencies to build a graphical smart-home space showcasing our integrated cross-category portfolio. Given that I started in the summer of 2019 and finished in September 2020, I suppose I can look back on my placement year as having given me the best of both worlds, and I feel prepared for both styles of working when I return to the workplace.
Looking more into the actual skills I developed, my placement really helped me grow as an individual, providing a solid foundation for developing professional skills. The difference in my confidence between starting and finishing was enormous. I now feel comfortable speaking in front of large numbers of people, having done so on a weekly basis to our PR managers across Europe and also taking advantage of free presentation training days provided by Samsung. That increased confidence meant I threw myself into more opportunities such as briefing journalists/analysts on new devices, writing press releases and creative asset development with agencies. Such skills, I believe, directly translated into improved performance in my final year of study; I stuck to my established working routine and was able to apply experience from Samsung often as a valid case study in a few assignments. This undoubtedly helped me to achieve First Class Honours, something I was not on track for with my second-year grades.
Most importantly, I have secured a graduate role back in the PR team at Samsung, starting in September 2021. This has been an immense weight off of my shoulders throughout my finals, making me feel much more relaxed in the knowledge that I have a clear next step in my life. The familiarity of returning to Samsung makes the prospect of transitioning full-time into the professional world much less daunting, and my existing experience in the PR role fills me with optimism that I can really kick on and achieve a lot over the next two years. My aspiration is to gain promotion to a Junior Manager role at the end of my graduate scheme, and I hope to stay at Samsung for a number of years.
As my time at Southampton University draws to a close, I feel immensely grateful. I would never have had an opportunity to work at a company like this without the guidance and support from the placements office and my supervisor Rochelle. I truly believe they are the university’s strongest and most influential department in terms of advancing students’ skills and supporting them in building a platform for the chapters of their lives beyond university. These 4 years have been an adventure I’ll never forget, and now I look towards the future with a similar excitement to the one I had when I started my uni story in 2017.