Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My top tips for work experience

Any excuse to buy cute stationary ! (l-r) Watercolour bird A5 notebook, Vintage compact mid-year diary, pencil case old All from Paperchase
Getting ready for your first day of work experience is a bit like getting ready for a first date. You spend ages picking out your outfit so you make the right impression, do a little background research and think of lots of interesting things to say. And like a date, we all want the first day of work experience to go well as it really takes the pressure off the following ones.
Right now thousands of people will be packing up their rooms ready to move to university in a month, thousands more will be planning the next step in their career or higher education and thousands, like me, will be finishing off their education before going out to find a full time job. Where ever you and who ever you are, work experience is an invaluable extra to your CV and yourself. Work experience gives you an insight into the career you want and will either make or break you in deciding where you want to go.
I've put together a few simple tips to keep in mind throughout your placement so you and, the company you're at, can get the most from it.

  • Keep in touch - I don't mean bombard them with emails everyday but if you've arranged your work experience a few months in advance you might want to drop them a line and confirm the dates. 
  • Ask questions - Check the office hours and who you should ask for when you arrive reception. You might want to check the dress code although sometimes the company will mention it themselves or it will just be obvious. Office work usually = smart attire
  • Do your research - Find out all you can about the company. If you're going to work at a newspaper for example, read some of their back editions, find out their target audience and what type of stories they report on the most
  • Be prepared - Book your travel tickets, arrange accommodation if needed, check the directions to your workplace. If you're like me, you might even want to plan a few outfits in advance.
  • Be friendly - You'll probably be introduced to the office when you arrive so be friendly and enthusiastic, and I mean for the entire placement not just when you say hello
  • Ask questions - Find out how people got into their career, ask for extra work or if there's anything you can help with, offer to make coffee, anything that will make a good impression
  • Be organised - Keep a diary and notebook of all the important information. Keep your colleauges conact details, any information about tasks you've been given, etc.
  • Get the most out of your placement - Sometimes a placement might not entirely live up to your expectations so think about what you can do to make it better. If there's a specific project you want to get involved in ask your team leader, the worst they can say is no! See if anyone else in the office needs helping out
  • Be grateful - you don't have to fall to your knees in gratitude but before you leave the office make sure to thank the people who have looked after you and shown you around. It shows common courtesy and they might invite you back again
  • Get contact details - the person who was looking after you, they know other people in the industry and could open loads of doors for you
  • Keep in contact - again don't bombard them with emails but drop them a line to say how much you enjoyed the placement. You could ask if you could come back again or whether they could put you in contact with other companies
That's it really. It's not rocket science. Be confident, calm and prepared, come brimming with ideas and ready to help out with any task, and any team will be happy for your help.

What are your top tips for a successful placement?

Beth xxx

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