Media Production graduate Caitlin Ward is helping a thriving North East estate agency transform its online house buying experience using the latest 360° virtual technology.

Caitlin’s three-month placement opportunity to support Paul Airey Estate Agents’ reinvention of its digital strategy has been made possible thanks to the University of Sunderland’s partnership with Creative Fuse North East, a project unlocking the potential of the creative, digital and tech sectors to drive innovation and growth of the region’s economy.

Caitlin is the first student in the region this year to secure a placement through Creative Fuse and is already making a significant contribution to the Sunderland-based business, as it adapts its digital platforms following the impact of Covid-19 on its operations and the customer experience.

Caitlin lights a Creative Fuse at North East estate agent
Photo Credits: David Wood

Paul Airey said: “We have a long-established relationship with the University of Sunderland and have welcomed the opportunity to work with the excellent David Puttnam Media Centre team, who are providing professional assistance with high-calibre students. The prospect of working alongside the University is very exciting and we look forward to providing commercial opportunities for students whilst also benefiting from their knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Caitlin, 23, from Durham, graduated this summer with a First-Class degree in Media Production, after developing those in-demand digital skills employers are looking to tap into as they embrace digital engagement strategies, the pandemic significantly accelerated.

She explained: “Through my role as Videographer and Brand Development Specialist at Paul Airey Estate Agents I have not only been able to put the skills I learned on my Media Production course at Sunderland into practice, I have also gained new skills and experiences too, which I can carry through my career. The role allows me lots of creative freedom which has helped my transition from student to professional feel seamless. I look forward to further opportunities I know this role will bring me.”

Paul Airey has a high street city centre office but has embraced a strong online presence and is concentrating on taking the business into the digital marketplace. This involves the creation of videos for the live streaming of property viewings, the development of CGI technology to accompany the Matterport 360 scans for new housing schemes, along with a number of other market-leading projects that the business’s in-house media department are currently working on.

Sue Perryman, Programme Leader for Media Studies and Caitlin’s Creative Fuse Mentor, said: “Our programmes keep pace with new knowledge and commercial requirements of businesses. It is very rewarding to witness our graduates utilising the knowledge and skills acquired on our programmes to make a real impact. The experience provided with the Creative Fuse has been invaluable as a gateway to employability.”

Photo Credit – David Wood

Caitlin’s experience highlights the impact Sunderland graduates have in the commercial sector as well as shining a light on the role of Creative Fuse, which is delivered through a unique partnership between the North East’s five universities – Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Teesside and Sunderland. Academics work alongside industry, cultural organisations, charities and the public sector, to explore how creative, digital and IT firms can have a sustainable future in the region adding value to the region’s broader employment base.

Associate Professor in Cultural Management at the University of Sunderland, Derek Watson said: “The Creative Fuse initiative is just one of a labyrinth of employability opportunities we provide our students at Sunderland.

“The relationship we have developed with Paul Airey East Agents is an example which demonstrates the reciprocal benefits between the University of Sunderland and the business community. One in which the organisation reaps tangible benefits in terms of their business growth strategy and for the student, an opportunity to fully exploit their knowledge and skills. Caitlin has excelled in the graduate placement and I am pleased to say that we are exploring additional internships with Paul Airey Estate Agents.”





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