My name is Harriot, and I am a Medical Biochemistry student currently on placement at an agency called H4B Manchester, which is part of Havas Lynx – a leading global healthcare communications company. H4B is a company that aims to improve the quality of life of people with an illness, by combining pharmacology insight with consumer thinking by talking to real patients in order to look at all the things that make us human.
I love my course, but I have never really been interested in a career in research. However one of my main goals in life has always been to help people and make a positive difference to the lives of others in one way or another. I of course understand the importance of research, and that the breakthroughs made lead to helping people all over the world. However, I’m a sociable person who likes to be involved in discussion and debate. I am also quite a creative person, and I thoroughly enjoyed studying art and design at A-level. I knew that I needed to use my placement opportunity to explore alternative career options available to a life sciences graduate. After browsing the available placement opportunities, the Havas Lynx Enterprise placement appealed to me the most. So I was very excited to be invited to interview!
I was given a tour of the office and I was made to feel comfortable and welcome by everyone that I met. I knew straight away that this was the sort of place I would like to work – so when I received the call to let me know I had been selected, I was over the moon! They told me that I would be included on the 2015 graduate scheme, so I was very pleased to find out that I would be starting on the same day as quite a few others; I wouldn’t be the only new girl, which was quite a relief. I was originally a little nervous, but really excited about the year ahead. The scheme kicked off with a company arranged ‘Freshers’ Week’ – a fun-filled, jam-packed week of skills development and team building exercises.
Working at an agency, life is fast-paced. Throughout this year I have never felt like a placement student – I was treated as a valued member of the team from the start, gradually being assigned more and more responsibility. And I loved it! However before I knew it, it was January and I was no closer to deciding on a project title. As much fun as I was having, the whole outcome of your placement is to produce a project report of the year!
Following some discussion with my placement supervisors, we decided that I would write up a project that we had been collectively working on, The World vs. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – an initiative created to help make the everyday lives of people living with MS that little bit easier. I have been heavily involved in the social media aspect of the initiative, community managing the social accounts, speaking with people living with MS and building a community to help support them. It has been an absolute privilege – it‘s so great to see our work really making a difference to people’s lives.
My other daily tasks typically include a lot of emailing, phone calls, meetings, generally coordinating and collaborating with the team to make sure that work gets done, and done well. My official job title is ‘Account Executive’. It is the accounts team’s responsibility to ensure that the team is aligned and motivated to help create the best outcome for the clients, and therefore for patients. However, throughout my time on placement I have had the opportunity to learn about a variety of job roles through both working with my team and other teams – collaboration is key to the success of any agency.
The final major part of the graduate programme is ‘Worksmarts’ which will be held just before my placement finishes at the end of June. We will stay off-site for three days of intense activity designed to challenge, test, and stretch the skills we have been developing over the past 12 months. We will be working in teams to develop ideas, which we will then be pitching back to some of the company directors – which is both exciting and a little daunting at the same time! As part of the graduate scheme, we are expected to develop a specific set of behaviours that will help our personal and professional development. These behaviours include: curiosity, personal credibility, drive to deliver, collaborative and consultative. We have had to self-evaluate on these behaviours, as well as eight specific deliverables (understanding the agency, quality control, financial and time management, science, strategy, creative, technology and client services) and I personally feel that I have come so far since starting at H4B.
We are definitely rewarded by the company for all the hard work we put in! I would be doing Havas Lynx a disservice if I failed to mention #LYNXLife. This concept was developed some years ago in an attempt to maintain the original culture that was felt in the earlier stages of the agency’s lifetime. From the smaller weekly perks like breakfast Mondays (free breakfast – pastries, fresh fruit, bagels you name it), and office dog days (employees are allowed to bring their dogs to the office, it’s amazing) to the more extravagant soirée’s. Since I started working at Lynx, we have been for a number of team meals and activities such as ‘Break Out’ and ‘Geocache Manchester’ which involved a sort of treasure hunt in which we had to answer questions related to particular location checkpoints around the city centre.
We also celebrated our achievements at the #LXAcademy Awards which was held at the town hall last month – an extravagant black tie event with special guest speakers, great food and dancing. My team swiped an impressive three awards overall (best motion, best pitch and grand prix) which of course we were thrilled about. May 2016 was important for Havas Lynx; it was the company’s 30th birthday. We started the day with a live Q&A session and talks from some inspirational guest speakers. Following this, we had great food, delicious cocktails, and endless fun in the photo booth. We celebrated 30 years of with performances from a live band and DJ. An incredible day spent with some incredible people. To top it all off, we got to witness one of my colleagues Chris crowd surf which was hilarious! My motto ‘work hard play hard’ definitely applies at Havas Lynx. We stay late, and work through lunch breaks some days too. But our work ethic just emphasises the fact that we are passionate about creating the best work possible for our clients, and in the long term bringing about the best outcomes for patients, which is very rewarding for us.
My experience of working in a professional business environment has taught me so much. Being surrounded by such talented, experienced and inspiring individuals has helped me grow on a professional and a personal level. I feel so lucky to have found a placement that was so perfect for me. I have built working relationships and made friends for life.
If you are a hard-working, motivated, sociable individual that is ready to get stuck in to the working world, but are not sure that a lab based placement, or permanent graduate role is for you, I highly recommend an enterprise placement with a company like Havas Lynx!
Thanks for reading! Good luck with your placement applications.