PACE: Playing a part in the future

An interview with Sorrell Jenkinson

As a full-service creative communications agency, we’re always on the lookout for the next generation of talent. People with ambition, passion and motivation – looking to take their first steps in the creative industries.

Our PACE placements are our way of helping young people to kick-start their careers, providing them with experience, access to knowledge and an opportunity to develop their skills. We welcome candidates to work as part of our teams, offering hands-on agency experience, working on projects, meeting clients and providing a chance to build connections with industry experts.

This week, we caught up with Sorrell Jenkinson, who recently joined us on a 12-month PACE placement as a Project Assistant in the Events team.

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You’re currently studying Events Management on a sandwich course, what attracted you to the placement at We are Vista?

I guess you could say it’s made clear from the beginning that getting industry experience is crucial – it can be the difference between landing a job or not. I first heard about We are Vista at a placement day at Leeds Beckett. The team put on an impressive presentation and were really open and friendly – I knew immediately I wanted to go for the placement.

Have you always wanted to work in events?

To be honest I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school. I got involved in a social committee in my last year, organising the school Christmas party and the prom and I really enjoyed the experience. It was actually my auntie who suggested looking into an event management degree – I suppose at that point, I didn’t really know events could be a career.

You mentioned your auntie supported you on your search for a degree – would you say you have any other strong female role models?

My mum. She has a very demanding, stressful job, but she is always smiling. Her work could easily influence her home life, but she manages to maintain a healthy work-life balance, while working really hard and helping lots of people every day.

What does your placement at We are Vista involve?

My role is so varied! It’s great because I get to work with a variety of people from different departments. I mainly take care of orders and purchases for events, find new suppliers and put together event boxes and production folders.

I also have monthly mentoring sessions, which are entirely tailored to my development. Before I finish my placement, I plan to spend a full day in each department, to understand the different disciplines available within the business and further my connections.

What has been one of your stand-out moments so far?

I recently went onsite at the NEC Birmingham, to join our client Asda for a huge event. It was quite overwhelming at first, just witnessing the sheer volume of it all. I’ve done lots of volunteering throughout my degree, but never anything on that scale. Before my placement, I knew I really wanted to work in corporate events and so being a part of the Asda experience really cemented that for me.

What have you found challenging about your placement?

At first it was really strange being in an office environment. I worked part-time in hospitality to earn money while I was studying, so I was used to working with people and having a manager – but agency life was a completely new experience for me. I really enjoy being in a professional office – it’s going to be really hard to go back to university after this year.

How have We are Vista supported you throughout your placement? – and what do you think industries could do to support health and wellbeing?

The HR team do a great job of making people feel supported. They have an ‘open door’ policy, where you can go in and talk to them about anything whenever you like. Liz, the Client Services Executive in the Events team regularly motivates the team and checks in to make sure that I’m not struggling with my workload.

Industries just need to make sure that employees are aware that its ok not to be ok. Events can be a stressful industry to work in, with long shifts, early mornings and late nights. Having regular chats with people to make sure they are feeling ok is really important.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a placement?

Before you go into an interview, research the company. Do your homework and actually take it in and soak it up. I did a lot of prep beforehand and it really paid off. Also, don’t just take any placement. It’s pointless doing something for a whole year if you’re not going to enjoy it.

We are Vista is a proud winner of the Investors in People award, for their skills in managing people well. What skills have you developed or improved during your placement?

The placement has been so beneficial already – I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve mastered Paprika and the ordering system, so much so, people are even asking me questions about it! The business has an incredibly positive and friendly vibe, making working here so much easier. I can just feel a difference in myself, I feel ready for the future.

Aside from placement programmes, what else do you think needs to be done to encourage the next generation to join the industry?

Awareness in schools – there just isn’t any. It sounds crazy, but I didn’t even know events was a job role. Colleges, sixth forms and schools need to be targeted, to showcase more placement opportunities. Education isn’t for everyone, but in schools it feels like that is your only option. I love the fact my degree promotes taking a year out to focus on the industry. It’s been a great experience for me so far and one I’ll definitely be recommending to my friends and family.

For more information on our PACE placements, please contact: pace@wearevista.co.uk