My best day ever: Four graduates on the highlights of working life

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The Independent Online

The PR executive

Andrew Peat, 27, has an MA in media and public relations from the Cardiff School of Journalism and A-levels in French, German and Italian. He is a public relations executive for the international law firm Norton Rose.

"My best day ever was when the majority of the PR team was overseas working on other projects and I unexpectedly had to deal with an almost impossible number of urgent inquiries. On top of the consistent flow of media calls that we experience daily, I had to brief two of our lawyers for TV interviews and help the finance director and London managing partner to determine how best to communicate their take on a key industry issue, in response to a time-sensitive request from a legal journal.

Although I knew I was capable of all the individual tasks, the pressure of having to respond to a huge number of inquiries, ensure that the correct arrangements were in place for the interviews, and brief the lawyers for the sort of questions they would face, all within a short period of time, was a lot for one person to handle. But it gave me a real buzz.

Also, when you're briefing people and discussing the best strategies for communicating the opinions of the company on sensitive subjects, you suddenly think to yourself, 'Here I am, at 27-years-old, telling some of the top lawyers in London and very senior members of our firm what to say and how to say it'. That can be quite daunting, but I have quite a lot of experience now and am confident in the advice I give."

The sales account manager

Fergus McKee, 28, graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2001 with a BA in marketing management and history. He took A-levels in history, business studies and mathematics, and is now a sales account manager with TMN Media.

"TMN media runs MutualPoints, the largest online reward scheme in the UK. Basically, every time you shop through a website advertised by TMN Media you earn points, which are exchanged into pounds and will be sent to you in a cheque. My job is to link companies with customers and if the products sell I stand to earn a big commission.

My best day ever was more the combination of a few days when I came across a specific market that some of my more experienced colleagues hadn't yet picked up on. I decided to act on this and threw together a quick business query before leaving work that night. The next morning I checked the statistics and found that my idea had been extremely successful.

That earned me a very productive meeting with my superiors. As a result, I received a healthy budget to play around with in launching a brand new campaign that will provide ongoing work for my company for the next few months.

Needless to say, my commission went through the roof, but what I really love about this experience is that my colleagues are now following up on work that I have provided for them, rather than vice-versa. I feel I have further proven my worth and cemented my future within the company."

The transport planner

Nick Hayes, 26, graduated from Leeds University with a degree in geography. Before that, he took A-levels in business studies, geography and psychology. He is now a transport planner for Atkins.

"I suppose my best day ever was when we had quite a high amount of staff on leave and I had to do the work of about three people. We had a really tight deadline and if this particular section of modelling hadn't been finished, the whole project would not have made the completion date. There was just me to do it and there was no way I could have got it done on time on my own.

So, off my own back, I went out and spoke to a senior engineer who I'd never really had much contact with before. I knew he had some experience with what I was doing, so I basically told him that he had to help me out. He had a good knowledge of the theory behind everything but didn't really use the software that much, so I guess I still ended up doing the brunt of it all. But if I hadn't found him, it wouldn't have been done and we would have all been up the creek without a paddle.

It was good because it was all my idea and I sorted out the whole problem. I suppose, if I hadn't figured it out, people would have been looking to blame me, but despite all that, the fact that I was responsible for saving the company constitutes a good enough reason to call it my best day."

The radio researcher

Rachael Kiddey, 27, gained a Masters in archaeology from Bristol University after studying history at Oxford Brookes University. She took

A-levels in English literature, theatre studies and history, and is now a researcher with Radio 4.

"My best day ever was when I had two excellent interviews researching information on a two-part series about the abolition of slavery in 1807.

The first interview was with a female archaeologist from Ghana who has been working for years on sites in West Africa.

Traditionally, it has been a very male-dominated industry in that part of the world, so it was great to get her take on the situation. But what I really loved about it was that she had been concentrating on indigenous sites rather than the colonial sites that most archaeologists tend to focus on.

Some of the information she was able to pass on shed a lot of light on the history I have been trying to uncover for a long time now. And I was able to take this information and compliment it with findings by another historian who is an academic in that area.

It gives me a real lift to know that I have been part of the process in bringing this new research to the world. Obviously there has already been a lot published on the abolition of slavery, but these new findings allow me to explain the history in a much more exciting way.

A lot of the time, history is told in a rather conventional and boring way and I feel that we learn a lot more if we can break away from these methods. This is very important when discussing issues such as race and equality."

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