Preparing for work experience
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
If you're currently sailing the university ship like myself, I am sure there will come a time where you have to sail up to the shore that is signposted 'work experience'. Whilst this is an invaluable period of your life as you experience what it's like in the 'real world' of your chosen career, it is not to say it doesn't come with a nicely wrapped bag of nerves.
As of right now, I have undergone two work placements, one being right in the centre of London, and the other was the polar opposite and pretty much sat on my doorstep. It is inevitable that you will experience some anxiety in amongst your excitement, so I have curated five tips that will help you as you book your train journeys (or Airbnb's above a decrepit shop...).
1. Get all the info beforehand
Even if it means asking questions that may seem dumb, you'll thank yourself for doing so...because who wants to turn up on the first day at the wrong time, in the wrong dress code, with no packed lunch? Exchanging an email conversation with the person your shadowing also allows you to begin to build a rapport and will make the initial meeting a lot more comfortable.
2. Research the company
A big part of succeeding in your placement is having knowledge in what the company does and being able to quickly adapt to how they work. Not only will your employer be impressed with your extra efforts and will thus create a good impression, but you will find it easier to converse with other employees. In some cases, work placements can result in the offer of a full-time job, so the more you can do to leave a lasting impression, the better.
3. Just say yes
Being thrown into the deep end into a workplace you have no experience in is scary, I get it. It is so easy for you to stay within your comfort zone and only complete tasks your used to, but there is no better feeling than completing work that scares you. Your employer would ask something of you if they didn't have faith in you, so just say yes!
4. Seem keen
Throughout your placement you may find yourself sat at a blank computer screen, itching to pick up your phone and scroll through memes whilst everyone else is working. Do not pick up your phone. Even if you feel like you've done enough work for the day and can't see how you'd be helpful, force yourself to ask your employer if there's anything else you can be doing. Asking this will make you seem more hardworking, eager, and honestly, do you really want to be sat looking at Mac's loading spinning wheel for hours on end?
5. Have fun!
Whilst it may seem like a nerve-racking week beforehand, these feelings will soon disappear and the next thing you know it's Friday and you've eaten your eighth office donut (I have no experience of this...) Be sure to take every opportunity, get to know everyone, ask the questions, offer your opinions and make the most of it! Who knows where it could lead you?