Stapling and Nailing - A day in the life of a Keele-Santander Intern

America Studies student Beth Adler-Smith has recently benefited from a Santander-funded internship at Stapling and Nailing Supplies based in Stoke-on-Trent. She was interviewed by the Keele Internships team to find out the benefits of such placements from an interns point of view.

Why did you decide to apply for an internship?

Beth: I knew I wanted to gain some experience in a role focussing on Social Media and PR, so when the first opportunity came up it seemed like the perfect placement. The company seemed friendly and local to where I was living. After some research into the company, I found that they had a niche yet extensive brand platform, and I was excited to learn from a growing business and to develop alongside them.

What was the application and interview process like?

Beth: The application was detailed and Kathy in the Internships office at Keele helped me refine my CV and gave me advice on how to present myself to a potential employer; it was extremely useful. When the application was passed over to Sian at Stapling and Nailing, she was eager to communicate and the interview took place quickly after I submitted the initial application. At the interview, Sian and Steve were very welcoming and really took the time to talk to me as well as having to still run the business. The interview questions ranged from past experiences and qualifications to future goals and interests. Even though it was comprehensive in its content, the atmosphere was very relaxed and conversational rather than an intimidating interview. I received the news of my success very shortly after the interviews.

What do you do on a typical day?

Beth: I start the day with a briefing from Sian and Steve about what has been going on over the past week, such as any big sales or changes to content, and then I get feedback from them on the work I had completed the week before. I then look over the social media channels and emails to catch up on any customer comments or new content. Generally I spend the rest of the day creating new product descriptions to go live on the company’s website, using a range of different mediums such as previous descriptions, manufacturer websites, social media, Sian and Steve’s knowledge and customer reviews. I also undertake various administrative duties such as answering the phones and taking messages. The day ends with a roundup briefing of what has been done that day, and formulating a plan of action for the following week.

What is your manager like?

Beth: Sian is extremely experienced in teaching and marketing and is very concerned with helping people reach their full potential. Her attention to detail is incredible and she has always made me think outside of the box to come up with new ideas. She is also a great sounding board for any academic or personal advice I have needed in my time here. She really made me feel part of the team.

Steve is one of the busiest people I have ever met, yet he still makes time to answer any of my many questions without hesitation. He has a very creative side and we have a great time coming up with new and innovative ideas for social media posts and website content.

What is the best thing about working for the company?

Beth: The best thing is the great team atmosphere in the office. The team is very small but from day one I have felt like a member of the Stapling and Nailing family. The relaxed atmosphere and the many comedic moments had on a day-to-day basis make the position feel less like work yet still being an excellent teaching environment.

What is the worst thing?

Beth: While I wouldn’t say there is a ‘worst’ thing, one of the difficulties I feel has been fitting into a very small team of experts with intense industry knowledge whilst being a complete novice in the business and having to ask many questions to try and get a grasp on the context of situation. Despite this, the team have always been more than accommodating to my questions and are more than happy to sit down with me and explain until I understand.

How important were they in helping you settle in?

Beth: The inductions were very friendly and meeting the whole team was a really good experience. I had everything I needed to get started, and I knew that if I needed anything else then I just had to ask.

If you could describe the company in three words, which words would you choose?

Beth: Quirky; welcoming; educational

What has been the highlight of your internship? Are there any particular things you are proud of?

Beth: During the first placement, I created a “12 Days of Christmas” campaign on the company’s social media accounts, which involved a lot of planning and detailed execution. After the initial planning session, as a team we then researched the products to be included, designed the campaign photos and scheduled the social media broadcasts. Though the actual campaign was only 12 days long, the planning and advertising took over a month.

Additionally, just after my first placement ended, we received a large sale from a customer who had discovered us through the Instagram page I had set up. This was the proudest moment of the entire scheme as that was what we had been working towards since day one. The customer has since become a regular buyer from the company.

What advice would you give other students or graduates looking for an internship?

Beth: I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to undertake an internship while at university or straight afterwards. Not only does it help get out of the university ‘bubble’ and get involved in the local community more, but the transferrable skills potential is huge. As for advice, I would say to not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone as the companies involved in schemes like these will dedicate themselves to helping you feel comfortable in whatever industry it is you enter in to. I would also say that even the interview process is great experience for when you’re ready for full time jobs, so even if you’re not successful in the end, every moment along the way is a learning opportunity.

What three things did you learn from the internship?

Beth:

  • To be more confident in my own abilities, and not be afraid to showcase them
  • Learning how to use so many new software packages and many new digital platforms
  • Learning how much work goes into running a successful business, particularly behind the scenes, and to appreciate the intricacies and attention to detail that is required.

Which skills have developed most during your internship?

Beth: My attention to detail and planning skills have increased dramatically since starting with this company. I have really learnt how to see things from both a business and a customer perspective and how to utilise them both to produce quality work. I have also learnt how to work to deadlines and plan my time accordingly, both personally and through physical scheduling platforms.

Have you been offered any further work by your employing company after the official end of the internship? If yes, please give details of the work and you long you’ll be with them for.

Beth: After the first placement ended I was encouraged to apply for the second position. I still had to be put in a pool of candidates and interviewed just the same as the first time. However, using the knowledge and experience I had gained the first time around, I was chosen as the best candidate to be employed for a further 12 months.

How has the internship affected your career plans?

Beth: I am now certain that I want to pursue a career in content writing, social media and PR and feel confident in those choices due to the experience I have gained in this position. Having this position has also encouraged me to complete a Master’s degree so I can combine academia with the workplace experience to get a head start in my chosen career path.

Sian Phillips, Marketing Manager at Stapling and Nailing, added: “Beth has provided us with a new mind-set and advice, particularly regarding when and where to take photos, and she has always represented our brand in a totally professional manner. Her willingness to learn and going the extra mile have stood out for us.”

Santander Universities logo For information on the opportunities available through the Keele-Santander programme please visit www.keele.ac.uk/internships. Details of other business support programmes available through Keele University’s Business Gateway can be found at www.keele.ac.uk/business.

For information on the Santander Universities commitment to Higher Education, please visit www.santander.co.uk/uk/santander-universities.