Undergraduate Careers Coach, Comfort Asaolu, shares tips on how to leverage your work placement or internship.
BSc Management student, Olivia shares useful tips on how to make sure you are fully prepared to start your year long work placement.
After making the choice to embark on a year long work placement, the next step is to start preparing for working life. I realised I wanted to undergo a year in industry when I was exposed to the benefits it can bring in terms of my career prospects and knowledge, with the chance to learn transferable skills outside of the lecture theatre. After choosing a company that was a perfect fit for me, and earning a place there, the next thing was to prepare for this exciting experience to come.
So, here are my top 5 placement prep tips:
1. Read up on the company and its purpose
You’re about to embark on a truly immersive year of work and learning. I was surprised by the amount of responsibility I was given from day one! So, it is incredibly helpful to research into the company, discovering the information that will not only make you stand out, but further understand the company’s purpose and role in its sector. The more you can learn beforehand, the quicker and easier you’ll merge into the business, becoming a reliable helping hand from the get-go.
2. Set yourself goals
Big or small, setting yourself goals is a great start! What are the skills you’re hoping to obtain on your year out? What do you want to learn? What other sides of the business do you wish to find more about? How do you want to network? By establishing goals, you can truly grow your skills and knowledge, which will help you with your career development in the future. Sharing these goals with your line manager will also allow them to set work relating to the skills you’d like to improve!
Most placement companies will put you in contact with other placement students, or work colleagues. Find them on LinkedIn or socials, along with following the main business social media account. Not only does this kick off your networking, but it can also show enthusiasm for the business or brand before you’ve even started! Talking to fellow placement students can also help calm your nerves, you can share experiences and hopes for the year ahead, along with having a friendly face for when you start. For example, a WhatsApp group with the other placement students has been established where we can exchange worries or questions and organise socials!
4. Start preparing for early mornings
Unfortunately, lying in until 3pm is no more. One of the biggest shocks I had at the start of my placement was the structure of the 9 to 5 working life. I wish I had prepared by getting into a good routine a week or so before starting my placement. I promise, it isn’t as scary as it seems! Once you have done this a few times, it becomes second nature. It is also likely that you’ll be given training in your first week so it’s wise to get organised and get some sleep! Having a solid sleep schedule helps you to feel more awake and productive in the day.
5. Never be afraid to ask questions
At the start of your placement, it can feel quite intimidating asking someone a question, or not knowing who to turn to, especially if it is a more senior or ‘experienced’ member of staff. However, no one expects you to know all the answers straight away! Even though I have been on my placement for months, I still found myself asking questions and discovering new things each day. The biggest piece of advice I would give is to take notes when a colleague is explaining the answer, that way you always have a bank of answers to refer to. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn.
If you would like to learn more about our courses which allow you to take a placement year see our Undergraduate Brochure for more information.