Students: how to make the most of internships or work experience
Mənbə: The Guardian
Work experience can really set you apart from your peers. Whether you’ve sorted a week working at a magazine, a month at an engineering firm or a few days shadowing your local plumber this summer, the skills and experience you pick up can help you to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market.
Making the most of your work experience and internship is imperative. Weeks before you’re due in, start researching the business so you get to grips with what the company does.
“Get an understanding of the company structure and take a look at the team you will be working with,” advises Victoria McLean, a careers expert and founder of CityCV.co.uk. LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for this, she says.
“Have an idea of the company mission statement and its corporate values too, so that you are clear on their expectations and ethos,” McLean adds. She also recommends setting up a Google alert so if the company is in the news, you will hear about it immediately. “That way you will appear on the ball and know exactly what is happening.”
It’s also worth asking the recruiter or hiring manager what to expect from the role and what your responsibilities will be. “Then there will be no nasty surprises and you will know exactly what to prepare for,” says Andrew Fennell, founder and director of London CV writing service StandOut CV. “I would recommend researching the skills and knowledge involved to find out if there is anything you can to do ensure that you are equipped to tackle the role from day one.”
Beyond thinking about the employer, it’s worth considering what you would like to gain from the opportunity. “A certain amount of this will of course be dictated by the employer, but be aware of skills you want to develop and have an idea of any specialist areas you want to find out more about so that you can identify the right people when you are in the work environment,” says Hannah Morton Hedges, founder of Momentum Careers Advice.
Work experience can seem daunting, whether you’re 14 or 29. Even successful chief executives can feel nervous when they’re starting a new job. But do remember that your colleagues are there to support you.
“Make sure that you ask plenty of questions. This will make sure you feel much more at ease and will provide you with any answers you may be lacking,” says University of Liverpool student Sophie Hodgson, who recently completed a 12-month industrial placement at the Walt Disney Company. “As you become more comfortable with your role, these nerves should disappear and you will realise just how far you have come on your placement journey, both professionally and personally.”
It goes without saying that you should focus on making a good impression. “Try to be confident, listen and take notes in meetings, seek advice and help when needed but most importantly, just try to enjoy your time,” advises Kirstie Mackey, who runs the LifeSkills programme at Barclays. “Think about some questions in advance you may want to ask so you can start a conversation and don’t forget to smile, despite feeling nervous. All employers want you to get the most from your placement too.”
Prior to your work experience or internship, set up a professional presence online. “As a recruiter, I always use LinkedIn to search for candidates and to check out applicants I have already spoken to, to see if their credentials are backed up online,” says Fennell.
“It’s a good idea to start as early as possible so that you can start to grow your network. During your internship, it will also be a great way to connect with colleagues who you may not have met in person.”
However, be wary of what you post on your social media accounts. “Make sure all of your own personal social media accounts are private as this will be the first point of contact that employees will look at when considering to hire a candidate for a role,” warns Hodgson.
On your placement, you could be tasked with anything from making the tea to sorting out paperwork. Morton Hedges warns that you should expect a fair amount of menial work. “No one wants to do filing, but we all have to make sure our work lives are organised and learn that this is an important part of being able to perform well,” she says.
However, if you’re feeling proactive, do ask if there’s other work you could help with too. “Employers love proactivity and this is about addressing the problem in a positive way. ‘I feel I could be doing so much more to help you’ is a lot better than saying ‘I’m not learning anything’. Think about what you want to learn, make suggestions based on these or on what you have seen. If you are not finding your supervisor to be forthcoming then seek out an ally – another work colleague who may be more sympathetic.”
Be enthusiastic and show willingness, offer to make the tea. “You don’t have to be doing it all day but offer the ‘kitchen run’ to the team and they will love you for it,” Morton Hedges says.
Once your placement has finished, don’t just say bye and walk out. “Hopefully there’s some kind of feedback process in place for you both to evaluate the experience but if there isn’t, absolutely ask for feedback,” says Lydia Fairman, a HR and resourcing specialist at Fairman Consulting. “Let them know you would be interested in further work if and when it becomes available. Take contact details and follow up to thank them for working with you.”
As McLean says: “The old adage, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ has never been truer. So ask away and you never know what future opportunities may be around the corner.” Oxunub (24) dəfə