It’s that time of year again when students on their summer break begin work experience placements. Whether this be an insight week or a six week summer internship; work experience opportunities can be challenging to secure but significantly rewarding in the long run. It’s vital you make the most of this time, especially after putting in the time and dedication to perfecting your application. Now more than ever before work experience, particularly internships, play a huge part in securing a graduate job. From the attitude you present, to keeping track of your achievements during placements, our list can help you on the way to being the perfect work experience employee!
Before you start your placement you need to start researching the company you are working for. You should have already done this during the application process, but now is the time to swot up on all the details. It’s important you learn the names and positions of the top people in the organisation in case you’re ever in a meeting or if you bump into them in an awkward lift situation. Company websites will normally list this information, and you should receive an information pack about who you will be reporting to. Not knowing who the top dogs are displays your lack of seriousness and interest in the organisation.
Research will also allow you to get to grips with a company’s ethos, standards and the way they generally operate so you can have an idea of what they will expect from you. Having an in-depth knowledge of a company’s current status and the deals they are working on will also be needed during your experience and will show employers you are passionate and serious about their particular industry.
We all know first impressions count; the minute you walk through a company’s door you need to show the employer as well as the employees you have the attitude they are looking for. Arrive ten minutes early on your first day and remain punctual throughout your placement. Remember to dress accordingly – you don’t want to turn up on your first day in flip flops when everyone else is in suits! Make sure you have a positive, enthusiastic and polite approach to people as well as tasks. Even though you may be volunteering at a company, you are still considered a professional member of the team so remain professional.
Successful and memorable interns are the ones that always have a proactive approach to their work. It’s easy to just stick to your list of tasks and complete them all efficiently and quietly at your desk. It can also feel scary in a new work place as a student/graduate to speak up, but making sure you communicate with your manager and colleagues can show your initiative, drive and ability to get on with people.
Once you’ve completed all your tasks ask your manager if they need anything else doing – you could be helping them out at a busy time which they will greatly appreciate. If you’re struggling to complete any of your tasks don’t be afraid to ask your manager or colleagues for clarification/help. Everyone gets stuck at some point, and asking for assistance can demonstrate your confidence and problem-solving abilities.
Don’t be afraid to pitch new ideas or opinions if in the correct situation to do so. This could be a departmental meeting brainstorming new ideas, or simply your manager asking your thoughts on a presentation. Getting a fresh and young perspective can really help a team whilst displaying your initiative and creativity.
You may think that you’ll be able to remember and keep track of all the tasks and projects you’ve been involved in during your time, but trust me when I say this is harder than it sounds. Keep a diary and list your responsibilities at the end of every day. Accompanying this, also explain what you have learnt from such tasks and the skills you have developed. List the particular programs you have used, the clients you have worked with and other specific information. Don’t forget to include soft skills which you may not think are of importance; time management abilities are vital in all work places. This information will come in handy when adding to your CV at the end of your work experience, and also when writing a cover letter explaining in detail your skills and experiences.
Network and stay in touch
Gaining an internship or work experience is tough, particularly at world renowned finance organisations, so make the most of your time! You will come into contact with many influential professionals whom you may not have the opportunity to meet again. Be sure to attend any networking opportunities available to you and be friendly and polite to everyone you meet. Your new contacts will have plenty of career advice and may even know of job opportunities relevant to you.
Try and maintain a strong relationship with your manager and colleagues; particularly as your manager can have a very strong effect on your future employment in the company. Schedule meetings and catch-up with your manager to discuss how your experience is going and also your career goals. Once you complete your work experience, ask your manager for feedback. Feedback is a great way to find out what you can improve upon to help you gain future employment.
Finally, add all your colleagues on LinkedIn and stay in touch. You never know what jobs they may know of in the future and LinkedIn can make it easy for them to get in touch with you.
For more information about seeking and securing work experience have a read of our guide here.