Placement advice from HR Media Intern Ben Court
Starting a work placement can be daunting at first, suddenly finding yourself in new surroundings outside your comfort zone with an overbearing expectation to perform.
But once you arrive and settle in, you are very likely to realise things will be absolutely fine and question why you had doubts in the first place. There are a number of things I feel you can do to ensure you get the most out of your work placement and I’m going to try my best to explain them.
Preparation and planning is vital. Arguably the most important part of any work placement, planning will be the foundation to your success (or failure). Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
Read up on the company before your placement, get a feel for what they do, their fundamental values and what they aim to achieve. This will help you slot nicely into your new workplace and be a cohesive part of the team from the get-go. A good place to start would be under the “About” section on the company’s website.
Make sure you know exactly where you are based, it’s much better to be early than late on your first day so leave plenty of time for your journey. Arriving late will set a sloppy tone for the rest of your placement. Get directions and print off a hard copy in case technology fails you. If you’re seriously keen you could even do a practice journey!
Be friendly and outgoing from the get-go and make sure you’re approachable. Try and introduce yourself to everybody early-on and remember a firm handshake. Nothing screams lack of confidence and enthusiasm like a weak, floppy handshake!
Go in with plenty of ideas, you never know when you’ll be quizzed or asked to think on your feet. Particularly for news-related placements, do some research in the evenings or read the morning papers for some ideas you’ll be able to ‘fall back on’. This way you’ll be ready to reel off some pre-prepared, relevant information and impress the boss. Coming in with your own ideas also demonstrates originality and helps you stand out showing a desire to learn.
Dress well - First impressions are really important. I personally feel how you look and carry yourself often reflects your attitude. Make sure you know the dress code though, you may look a tad too keen if you turn up in a suit and everyone else is in casual wear.
Familiarise yourself with your new surroundings – pay close attention on your induction. You don’t want to look silly asking questions you have already been given the answer to. I find the best way to avoid this is by writing everything down. This way, if you forget anything, you’ll be able to quickly refresh your memory without having to ask anyone.
However, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Asking questions and communicating in the workplace is really important to help you get the most out of your placement. You’re surrounded by professionals with a fantastic opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills – put yourself out there! People are likely to be willing to help - you’re part of a team! Use your initiative though - develop a feel for when it’s best to go at it alone or stop and ask for guidance. Don’t ask silly questions!
Keep your work organised, this way it’ll be easy to find documents and stay on top of everything. Also, keep your colleagues updated with where you are at with things, communication is so important.
Finally, enjoy it! Work placements are a fantastic opportunity to test the waters in different areas of the working world, develop your CV and help decide what you want to do for a career. Make the most of it and don’t waste it!