What is it like to study internal communication and when is the right time to hit the books?

Today I’m delighted to share a guest post by Annique Simpson, who has just graduated from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) Internal Communications certificate course.

She’s here to reveal what it was like to study, what she learnt and her feelings about internal communication before, during and after the course.

Congratulations to everyone who graduated in London on Friday night and to PR Academy for all your hard work.

Annique passed with flying colours as she was awarded a distinction.

I had the pleasure of being on the judging panel for the CIPR Inside Awards earlier this year and hearing Annique interview for the Future Leader award.

She was Highly Commended and I was struck by her enthusiasm for internal communication and commitment to her own development.

Annique is Internal Communications Executive at Grant Thornton UK LLP and is looking for a mentor, could it be you?

She told me: “I’d love to be mentored by someone who is ideally a senior Internal Communication professional who can help me move into an IC management role.”

If that sounds like you, please contact her on Twitter @annique_simpson or LinkedIn.

Here’s Annique …

How to study internal communication

On Friday 7 July I graduated for the second time. It was noticeably different to my first graduation ceremony for my undergraduate degree. No cap and gown, no crying mum and no worrying about what I’ll do with the rest of my life.

However, unlike my undergrad, I joined the CIPR Internal Communications (IC) certificate course not really knowing what IC was or whether I’d be any good at it.

In fact, I applied for the course only a few months after ‘discovering’ IC, and I was only two months into my first general comms role when I started the course last October (when you know, you know, I guess!).

I remember feeling nervous as I travelled to my first lesson; multiple doubts churning in my head. Am I ready to return to academia? Do I even like IC? Is this going to be a waste of my money and precious Saturdays?

The answers turned out to be simple – ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘absolutely not’ – and here’s why:

The lessons

The course consisted of four all-day Saturday sessions over four months. While this may sound painful, the engaging and informative course topics meant that it was anything but.

On the course, I learnt how to help employees become more engaged at work; how to implement internal social media into a company and how to write a strong corporate narrative.

I particularly enjoyed exploring organisational tone of voice and learning how to create a robust communications plan (FYI: setting SMART objectives is not as easy as it sounds!).

It was a steep learning curve for me, and there were a few times when I felt overwhelmed by all the information. However, this soon faded once I took time to assimilate my new knowledge and do some further reading.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: My glossary of internal communication.

The assignment

At the end of the course, I had to write a 3,000-word critique examining one aspect of IC theory in the context of a real-life organisation.

Having thoroughly enjoyed learning about engagement, I chose to focus on the interplay between IC and employee engagement at my workplace.

On the advice of a friend who had recently completed my course, I began preparing for the assignment as early as I could.

The preparation process was reminiscent of my uni days, not least because I spent hours researching and writing the assignment in my old uni library! In the end, I got a distinction, so all my hard work and sacrifices were not in vain.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to make a real impact on employee engagement

The students

I’ve written elsewhere about how friendly and enthusiastic internal communicators are and my ‘classmates’ were no different. There was a real sense of camaraderie in my teaching group and everyone was up for sharing successful techniques, funny employer stories and course notes.

We were an eclectic group in terms of professional backgrounds, seniority, geography and industry. As well as IC officers and managers, there was a Dutch consultant who flew in for the lectures and an employee of the Royal Household!

As the most junior communicator, I initially felt that I had little to offer the group, so I kept quiet. But after reflecting on my previous work experience and psychology studies, I realised that I had some great insights to share and I began actively participating in class discussions.

The opportunities

Although I’ve only just officially completed the course, I believe that it has already opened up many doors for me. Since applying for the course last summer, I’ve been offered two comms jobs, been highly commended as a future leader at the CIPR #InsideStory Awards and have won a staff award for innovative comms.

This recognition is a testament to the knowledge and skills that I acquired on the course, which I’ve reinforced with work experience and further reading.

Moreover, I self-funded my studies which shows that I’m committed to my professional development; a key competence for many IC jobs.

The contacts I made while on the course have also been invaluable. As an in-house internal communicator, it’s easy to become detached from the profession. By connecting with keen learners from industries different to my own, I’m able to learn new ways of working which I can apply to my organisation (and vice versa).

Final thoughts

I’d highly recommend studying IC academically, particularly if you’re a career-changer like me. Signing up for the course was a big leap of faith for me; thankfully, it was a worthwhile investment.

I’m now a more confident and effective IC practitioner.

I’ve decided to postpone further academic studying for now so that I can continue to embed what I’ve learnt into my practice. That being said, I’m a nerd at heart, so I reckon it won’t be too long before I’m back studying again!

Author: Annique Simpson. You can read more about Annique via her website.

Thank you, and well done again.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to become a Chartered PR Practitioner.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to teach internal communication.

Want to learn more about internal communication?

If you’d like to learn more about internal communication, sign up to attend an All Things IC Masterclass.

I hold them every month in London and you’re invited. Search the Masterclasses page to find out more and save your place.

They start from £399+VAT and upcoming topics include Change Communication, Writing Skills, Internal Communication and Strategic Internal Communication.

CIPR and IoIC members can earn CPD points/hours while learning and save 20%. Nonprofit organisations can also save 20% using my discount codes. Full information and codes can be found on the Masterclasses page.

Want to spend time talking through your career?

Book me for 1-2-1 consultancy and we can spend the day brainstorming together and concentrating on you.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 9 July 2017.