Written by Becca Davis - 03 September 2018
Before landing on my feet and starting my career in PR, I experienced my fair share of work experience stints. From tiny little publishing houses in the middle of the countryside (requiring a 2-hour trip each way), to work experience at Sainsbury's headquarters, it's fair to say I've seen it all.
From throwing coffee over myself, being asked to pack 100s of envelopes and shredding papers for DAYS on end, I've been through it all, and learnt some valuable lessons on the way. Now at 25 years old, and working full time, I'm prepared to reminisce on my unpaid hours and share my words of wisdom.
This is the number one rule. You can never ask too many. Not only that but start asking them from day one. The worst mistake you can make is holding off on asking questions. 1) You then risk having to ask the basics on day five and 2) You look uninterested. So ask!
Your best friend will be your notepad. The beginning of a work experience placement is like someone has spouted a library of information at you. Write it down so you can refer back to it.
Don't become a tea lady (or boy)
The most valuable work experiences are those where you actually work. You contribute to the company. Whether that's researching or working on a project, those hours will fly by if you're actually doing something rather than watching the clock and waiting until you can go home and get to the pub!
Don't fall into the trap of being the tea-maker. You're there to learn. I'm sure you make a great cuppa but that won't look great on your CV.
If you hate, persevere
You aren't going to enjoy all your work experience placements. I went through work experience in a solicitor's, several publishers, B&Q head office, Sainsbury's headquarters and in various different teams before I actually realised what I wanted to do. But the value of work experience is it helps you decide what you enjoy and what is suited to you. Without actually experiencing it, how are you meant to know?
Don't eat lunch alone!
When I was working in a tiny publishing house in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside I did just that. Cue spending money I certainly didn't have on café lunches. I soon learnt that you aren't going to get much value if you don't speak with your temporary colleagues, and lunch is the ideal time for that. This is the perfect time to make those relationships that could help you get a foot in the door. Not only that, you won't be remembered as the intern who never spoke.
So now you know what to do when you've got work experience, but how do you get it?
25 years young. PR Manager at CMI. 2013 graduate from Oxford Brookes. Gym bunny. Lover of all things sweet, prosecco, and naps.