Careers Advice Blog

How to prepare for a work experience placement

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We get it. You’re nervous and you hate being the newbie. We’ve all been there.

Preparing for an internship may seem incredibly daunting but just remember – the hardest bit is done! You’ve been accepted to work for your dream company! Even if it’s only for a month…

So here are Career Camel’s seven top tips with how to prepare and what to do once you’re there.

  1. Research!

This is without a doubt the most important thing to do before you arrive on the first day at your swanky new office.

Make sure you know basic facts about the company before you get there. If you’re working for a magazine, what’s their target audience? If you’re working in HR, how many departments are there?

There’s every chance your mentor could call you up on this at any time, so it’s important to do your research to avoid embarrassment.

  1. Email the week before you start

It is very common for placements and internships to fall through at the last minute through lack of communication in the company… Don’t worry, it’s not your fault.

Therefore be sure to email a week or two before (using a previous email chain for evidence!) to check that everything is place for when you arrive.

Above all, you will appear organised and enthusiastic.

  1. Plan your outfits for the rest of the week on Sunday

The last thing you will want to do after coming home on the commuter train is plan what to wear for the next day. Check the weather forecast and plan ahead!

It will save you a lot of time and hassle, and it is so much more convenient to iron all your shirts in one go whilst watching X Factor and Downtown Abbey.

  1. Make packed lunches

You won’t know what the job entails until you arrive, but there is every chance that you may not get a lunch break if the office is having a busy day.

Take your lead from others around you, but have a packed lunch at the ready so you can eat discreetly at your desk if necessary.

If you do get a lunch break, use the time to go outside and get to know the area, especially if you’re in London!

  1. Know who to contact in an emergency

Public transport fails. The UK gets snow at random times of the year. There’s protests in the street. If you can imagine it, it can happen!

While your mentor might be frustrated by this, these things can’t be helped. Therefore ask on your first day for an emergency telephone number or email address to let them know your whereabouts if you’re running late.

Likewise, do not lie if you are running late through your own fault. Your mentor will check to see if there is actually “a signalling fault” on the National Rail website…

  1. Ask about expenses and payment

Once you’ve settled in to the office and worked out who is in charge, ask someone nicely about whether you will be paid expenses and how to go about doing it.

Many short placements and internships are unpaid so don’t go in expecting too much too soon.

  1. Be confident and let your best work shine through!

Be willing to do whatever is asked of you because it is usually an entry test to allow you to do bigger projects independently.

If you work hard from day one, there is every chance that your colleagues will give you references or LinkedIn recommendations at the end of your internship.

Remember, if you don’t enjoy it, it is not the end of the world because you’re not going to be there for the rest of your life… but be sure to convince your mentors otherwise!

How did you prepare for a work experience placement? Tell us below.

Photo: Jordanhill School D&E Dept / Flickr

Molly Mileham-ChappellHow to prepare for a work experience placement

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