Work experience may be a rite of passage for students across the globe, but it’s more than just something to put on your CV.
If you play your cards right, your placement could become an invaluable opportunity to experience what it’s like to be in a real office — and make lasting connections that stand you in good stead later on.
Do your research in advance
Before you even set foot in the door, you should have researched the company’s history, mission statement, goals and closest competitors. You should know who the CEO is, where they got their start, and the backstory of all the people you are likely to work with.
Make a good first impression by turning up on time
There’s nothing worse than turning up late on your first day. So, if you don’t know how long it’s going to take you to get to the office from your house, do a dry run on a weekend and then allow an extra 20 minutes to make sure you’re not sweating when you shake your supervisor’s hand on the first day.
Invest in a work wardrobe
Depending on where your placement is, you may need to suit up or dress smart. Make sure you know whether this will be necessary for you. If in doubt, always dress slightly smarter than you think you’ll need to for the first day.
Take the time to get to know your colleagues and their stories
Unless your school organised your placement, you should be spending a couple of weeks at the company of your dreams, where real life people are doing your dream job every day. Remember this when you meet your new colleagues. Ask them how they got their start, and what they did to get to where they are now. Not only will this help you know what you need to do to be like them, it will also help them remember you as a kind, considerate and driven person. Result!
Ask for feedback and stay in touch after leaving
Even though feedback can be painful to receive in the moment, it can be an invaluable guide on what to do better next time. Try and gather informal feedback from your supervisor as you go along. This will give you the chance to improve while you’re still there.