After spending two weeks in London in the Easter on a vacation scheme, I thought I’d share some of the tips the trainees at the firm I was working for gave me for success in a work experience placement.
1) Be confident… but don’t be too over confident: The thing is it’s very difficult in these situations. You want to seem interested, you want to seem like you want to get to know people, but you do not want to come across arrogant. There is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance – you just have to be careful not to cross it. I.e. don’t annoy anybody.
2) Be enthusiastic – you might find a piece of work quite boring –but don’t tell your supervisor you think it’s the most boring thing you’ve ever been asked to do. These people are busy, and they’ve taken the time out to find you this work and talk you through what you have to do. Listen, smile, say thank you for sorting that out for me, and look like you’re happy to be there. You’ll leave a much better impression if you do.
3) Be social – working is tiring, and realistically there are going to be days when you want to go home as soon as you finish your shift and watch TV. That’s fine. But while you’re doing work experience, try and at least look like you’re willing to spend time with your colleagues outside of work. It’ll help you get remembered for a start if you go to drinks (of course it goes without saying, don’t get too drunk) and you yourself will get a much better impression of the people working at the firm and whether or not these are the people you will enjoy working with on a day to day basis if you go. It’s a win-win situation.
4) Carry a pen and a notepad at all times – it’s amazing how someone can explain something to you, you think you’ve got in your head everything they said, then ten minutes later you’re staring at a computer screen racking your brains trying to remember what somebody has actually asked you to do. It’s easy enough to drop them an email but then you panic they think you might not have been listening properly….this is a problem easily solved by carrying a pen and a notepad – it gets things done much more quickly.
5) Be respectful to others on your placement – the vast majority of the time if you’re good enough to secure one placement, you’re good enough to secure two or three. But don’t spend the entirety of your placement bragging about where your other placements are to the other participants. If you’re not liked, graduate recruitment will likely pick up on it. Plus if one of the other participants is lucky enough to secure a placement in New York with another firm/ a placement in another country (which happened to me on my scheme) don’t shout it out in front of the recruitment team. It looks like you’re trying to score points, plus its disrespectful. It isn’t going to put you at an advantage over them for pointing it out either, the chances are its going to make the firm you’re want to recruit them more, and you less.