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Top tips on getting the most out of your work experience

We know how important work experience is to differentiate yourself from the crowd, to show employers you’ve shown initiative and gained useful skills. But how can you gain the most out of your time on work experience?

First off let’s start with the application. You will need to approach companies rather than vice versa; look for places on websites and send emails. I would recommend utilising your university/school careers department. They will be able to find a good placement for you and supply you with useful contacts.

Contact the careers department long before you want the placement. For example, if you are looking for a placement in June, perhaps send an email in October or November. This will ensure they have more time to deal with your request as they are likely to be swamped with emails towards the end of the academic year. This ensures you are not competing with friends from school/university for placements.

Now that you have a placement, the first tip is to ask questions prior to coming. When do I have to show up? What do I wear? How do I get there? Do I need to bring a laptop? It is better to ask these than to make a fool of yourself on the important first day, and, chances are, the person you’re emailing is going to be happy to answer.

Once you are there, make sure to seize opportunities to help out. If you see a chance to help out the organisation, make sure to take it even if it’s not necessarily in your job description. This will prove your eagerness to help out and learn about the field.

When given a task, ask as many questions as you need. It is better to ask than to waste everyone’s time by doing something that wasn’t required, or not doing something that was required. Asking questions will show your desire to do the job well.

My final tip is to try and get a job to do that involves the company’s clients early on. On my first day at the PRCA I was set a task to find contact details for all the organisation’s clients. Mundane as it may sound, it helped me to understand what the organisation did and who it worked for.

By getting yourself a good placement and ensuring you are always ready to work you can make sure that you can get the most out of your work experience and impress your employer.