Gillian has been a key alumni volunteer for a number of years. 

Volunteer in the Spotlight: Gillian Reeves

'Volunteer in the spotlight' is a regular feature which shares the stories of some of our alumni volunteers.

This month is the turn of Gillian Reeves (BA Politics 2004). She supports recent alumni as one of the inaugural committee members of Exetra and recently finished a five year term as trustee of the Students' Guild. Gillian has been a key alumni volunteer for a number of years. 

Here, we ask Gillian more about her current role, her tips for career success and why she is so keen to engage as an alumni volunteer.

What do you do and where do you work?

I am the Communications Officer at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), a trade association representing research-based biopharmaceutical companies in the UK. I am primarily responsible for communicating with our members and I also work with external stakeholders such as patient organisations and health charities. My role involves writing, editing, and proofing newsletters, blogs, speeches, reports, publications, and event marketing. I undertake a lot of project management, liaising with colleagues, agencies, and partners.

How did you get into working in your field?

With most careers, I did not pursue a job in communications but ‘fell into it’. After an internship in the House of Lords, my first communications role was as Communications and Conference Manager at the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, an Associate All-Party Parliamentary Group. I had applied for a policy officer role, which I did not get, and instead I was offered a communications and events role. I really enjoyed the type of activities I was working on and decided I wanted to build a career in communications and PR.

What is it like working in your role? What do you enjoy the most?

The work is varied and no two days are the same. During a day, I can be working on several different health and medical areas. I can be proof reading a report or developing a communications plan for an event or campaign or drafting a blog or a publication. I enjoy the variety of the projects I work on and love when I am able to sit down for a few hours and just write. I also enjoy coming into contact and communicating with such a variety of different people.

What are your top tips for getting into working in your field?

Every type of business and organisation, in the private and public sector needs people to promote their work. It is important that you are an excellent writer, with a good grasp of spelling and grammar.

Decide if you want to work in-house, or at an agency, it is a good idea to think about the best choice for you, and your future, before you commit yourself.

Demonstrate that you have a commitment to working in communications for example by writing a  blog and being active on key social media platforms like twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Show that you know which communication channel is suitable for the type of audience you are engaging with and know how to produce a communications strategy.

Keep up to date with latest social media trends.

Join a professional institute and undertake CPD.

Network, network and network.

And finally, what inspires you to volunteer so much of your time to help Exeter students

I really enjoyed my time at Exeter and once I had settled into the start of my career, I wanted to help current Exeter students. For the past five years, I was an external trustee of the Guild. I loved going back to campus, meeting inspiring students, many of whom I am still in touch with, and seeing the Guild and the University flourish. I am also a founding member of Exetra, the recent alumni network. This year we are celebrating our fifth anniversary and over the last few years, we have gone from strength to strength, organising successful networking and educational events (as well as some fun socials). I have really enjoyed working with my fellow alumni on the committee and meeting other successful alumni who have given us their time to speak at our events. 

Date: 9 September 2014

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