So you’ve bagged that all-important work placement, but you don’t know what to expect? You know how a stapler works and how to send an email, but you’re not quite clued-up on the ins and outs of a work placement at a media company? Fear not, because here are five tips – including advice from the actual people who work directly with people on internships – on how to prepare for your work placement.
1. Don’t expect people to remember your name straight away
You’ll likely be shunted from overflowing desk to overflowing desk. You probably won’t know anyone at lunch-time and you won’t have people coming up to you asking you your life story. But it doesn’t mean you’re not wanted. A lot of the time people are busy, so don’t mistake this for rudeness. Also, they have a lot of people coming through their doors. They’ve all ‘been there’, and even those who haven’t ‘been there’ have at least had a favour done for them by someone on a placement, so don’t get sad if they forget your name – it’s likely you’ll forget theirs at some point, too!
2. Grin and bear it through the boring stuff
The person in charge of you might have a list of menial tasks for you to do e.g. sorting post, doing mailouts, filing, making/buying rounds of tea and coffee (unfortunately). Although they’re rubbish jobs, if you get them done well and efficiently, you can move onto the next stuff. If you huff and puff your way through it and get grumpy, it’s unlikely people will want to ‘borrow’ you to do anything else. This will probably start off with research, but soon you will be given your opportunities to be creative yourself. Again, get all the research done properly and explain how you’ve done it. If you impress them you’ll go onto to bigger, better things.
3. Don’t worry about asking questions (good ones)
People in charge of you really don’t mind if you ask a question. But try your hardest to answer it yourself first. Even though it’s tempting to think everything works differently when you’re in a new, intimidating environment, it’s not as if the place has different laws of logic. There’s no use in e.g. asking whether paper needs to be folded or scrunched when it goes into the bin, because just as it doesn’t quite matter outside of the office, it’s unlikely to matter inside the office. So if it’s a valid question e.g. ‘What is the email address of that person you want me to email?’ then sure, go for it. But try to think things through first.
4. Be quiet.
Ok, not entirely silent, but gauge the tone of the office before revealing your spectacular personality. As life coach Rebekah Fensome puts it: be a blank canvas, at least to begin with. “The key thing is not to be too loud to begin with. You’re new in the environment so it’s good to sit back and see who’s there what their roles are and how you fit in. Assess the culture, the tone and what people there are like before you’re very forward in your personality. That’s not to say you can’t be yourself, but just get an idea of how things work first.”
5. Learn about the company that you’re working for
Work out who uses it, how many people use it and who owns it, who its competitors are and how many people work there. Have a secret stalk of the workers on Twitter to get an idea of them (obviously don’t tell them you’re doing it, though). Being able to get an idea of what a place is like and how it works before you even set foot in the door is an absolute luxury that has only properly come about with the internet, so take advantage of it! Claire Hodgson, Editorial Assistant at Zoo, says: “The most important thing for us, is that people who come in for work experience know the brand and are passionate about it. You don’t need to feign being a mega-fan, but it’s a good idea to have a good look through the magazine, website and any information you get sent via email, to get a feel for things. Equally important is the attitude you approach things with, though. If you come in with a friendly, proactive, can-do attitude, and make sure you give every task equal enthusiasm, you’ll impress everyone!”