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The whole point of work experience is to see what it’s like to be employed in the real world. But for most people, this can be a little scary, especially if you’ve never been in a working environment before.
You might be wondering...
‘how do I act?’, ‘what can I say?’ and ‘how can I make a good impression?’
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our Do’s and Don’ts for Work Experience…
Work experience is the perfect opportunity to find out more about an industry or job, especially if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing after high school. Even if your placement isn’t in a field of work you’re passionate about, it’s still a great way to find out more about what it’s like to work in a professional environment or discover other pathways you can follow.
Remember, you’re there to learn, so there’s no such thing as ‘too many questions’. Ask about different projects going on in the company, the types of skills employers will be looking for and even how to best prepare for work during high school.
And one last thing – don’t just ask questions to learn, ask questions to clarify. No one is expecting you to be an expert on Day One, so don’t feel like you’re being a burden by asking questions if you don’t understand something. It’s better to clarify a task first instead of guessing and doing it wrong.
You’re in a professional environment, so you have to act the part. Take note of how employees interact with each other and how they work on their own. Do they talk respectfully to each other? Most likely yes. Do they show up to work on time and let their supervisor know if they’re going to be late or will have to miss a day of work? Again, probably yes. That’s the standard of professionalism you’ll find in most workplaces, but it really all comes down to being a polite and responsible person.
It was mentioned before, no one is expecting you to be an expert on Day one… or at all! You’re there to learn, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t understand certain tasks or you feel overwhelmed by all this brand new information. Do your best and back yourself – tackle every challenge that comes your way and ask for help when you need it.
And The Don’ts…
It’s all about your attitude, and if you spend the whole time with a sour look on your face then it not only does that give a bad impression to the supervisor, it will also prevent you from making the most of the amazing opportunity you’ve been given. Sometimes work experience can be challenging, but try to look at it as an opportunity and not an obligation. And remember – your supervisor is taking time out of their day to train and guide you – it would be rude to act like you don’t want to be there.
This almost goes without saying, but old habits die hard. Think back to one of our earlier tips about being professional – you might have to adjust your behaviour slightly to how you would act during lunch at school to fit the workplace. Don’t be loud or rude and don’t swear, especially if inappropriate language violates company policy.
We get it – sometimes you might be given a task that you don’t really want to carry out. But the last thing you should do is complain about it – at least give it a go first and see what you can learn from it. And if you really don’t enjoy the task or are struggling with it, have an honest conversation with your supervisor to see if you can try something different.
You’re All Set!
These are just a few things to keep in mind for your first work experience placement. It can be daunting and overwhelming, but if you go in with an open mind and a willingness to learn, it will be an amazing experience for everyone involved!
PS. If you have any personal tips or work experience stories then we’d love to hear them! Drop a comment or send an email to the Grandshake team at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on our blog and help other students find their future pathways! #letsgrandshake
Grandshake and Junior Engineers, a one-stop shop for the industry to support young talent development from school to employment.
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