Work placements are incredibly important and enable you to network, and bump up your CV with real experience. Most importantly they enable you to truly experience the career you dream of, so you get to – for a short time – live and breathe your perfect job. If it turns out to be less than perfect, you get to at least learn that fact, enabling you to take some time out and think about how you might change your future career path. If it is everything you thought it would be, you get to have real life experience in the field, and you get to potentially make incredibly useful contacts to help you move in the right direction.
Intern experiences will help build your confidence in the real world of work, so it is important you make the most of them.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your work experience:
When you’re trying to land the placement:
Keep at it
Don’t stop trying to get that work placement if you don’t hear back first time. Remember to be creative with how you apply – if your email doesn’t get a reply, try and contact the potential employer in a different way. Consider approaching them via social media, phone or even in person if you live near the establishment.
Persistence does pay off, as does enthusiasm and positivity. So keep at it and make them notice you. Just remember to follow up your correspondence and if you end up hearing nothing after a while, don’t take it personally, move on and put your energy into the next opportunity.
Think about it
It pays to be choosy about your work experience applications. You need to spread your net wide, but at the same time focus where your net is going. You need to know exactly why you want to work for that particular company. If you don’t know why, they will more than likely see that either on your application or during your interview and turn you down in favour of someone who has done their research.
Put your best foot forward
If you’re desperate to impress a potential employer it is imperative that you show them what you’re made if. If your application is full of spelling errors, they will simply put it in the bin and move onto the next one. If you’re not checking your spellings and putting on a professional image, they’ve no reason to take you seriously. Show them your best side in all the communications you have with them, so you then have the best chance of impressing them.
Ensure every application is relevant
Don’t send the same application to every employer. Write each application to suit each job. This includes your cover letter, the skills on your CV and the examples of your previous work.
When you’ve landed the placement
Arrive with smiles
Don’t start giving off negativity as soon as you arrive at your internship. Make a good first impression because you only get one chance to make it. Dress to impress (appropriately!), set off early from your student accommodation so you get there well in time, and try to get to know the people you’re working with as soon as you can.
If you find you don’t have anything to do, don’t just sit back and wait for someone to approach you with jobs. Approach your seniors to see how you can help, and how you can be most useful. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, it shows you are proactive and willing.
It is quite possible you may get a selection of jobs that you consider to be highly undesirable. You might be asked to make the coffee, file the paperwork and generally run errands for a lot of the time. But you never know what any opportunity – big or small – will lead to, so keep smiling and always do your best.
Don’t leave without saying goodbye!
Lots of interns will unfortunately finish their time at a company without asking for a review, feedback or simply saying goodbye to the management that hired them. If you plan to ask for a reference (which you should) go directly to your manager and ask them about it. If you make an impression and they remember you, you have a much better chance of getting a great reference.