There is only so much you can learn in a classroom when it comes to entering the workforce. This is part of the reason why many schools offer work placements as part of the course. If done properly, a placement will help you pick up some hands-on work experience, a few new soft skills, and hopefully a greater confidence in your future career.
So how do you make the most out of your limited time on a work placement?
Keep it professional
While we are sure you dress appropriately anyway, it is still worth mentioning that adhering to a potential dress code is important - this goes for all jobs and not just placements. Begin by dressing as well as possible, and then match the level to the people around you.
Always remain polite and interested in what you are doing, even if a certain task seems unnecessary or boring. You are sure to have a great mixture of jobs assigned to you on your placement and odds are not all of them are for you.
Say yes to everything you can. For example, if a colleague asks if you want to attend a meeting make sure you say yes in order to get a view of how business meetings work. By accepting to take on tasks and attend meetings you are getting as much and diverse experience as you can - which is essentially what you are there to do. You are also showing your temporary employer that you can take initiative and self-manage, both of which are very attractive traits in an employee.
However, make sure you are not stretching yourself too thin. At the end of the day you will be remembered partly for the work you carried out, and you are responsible for it being done well. Do not take more on if you feel like your hands are already full.
A way to show that you are keen to learn is to ask questions. Not about everything of course, but if there is something you are a bit unclear on or maybe just curious about be sure to ask your manager or someone else appropriate. It will prove to your manager that you take the placement seriously and that you truly are looking to learn from it.
It is important to be sociable with your colleagues, as well as being a great worker and showing positive results. If you are invited out to lunch, never say no. Take a break from working and get to know the people you work with instead. Not only is it a positive experience personally, it will also help you when you are collaborating with others.
Another positive aspect is that the people you keep in contact with after your placement can prove extremely useful later on when you are looking for a full-time job or just a reference.
Finally, make sure you retain what you learn on your placement. Actually entering the workforce might still be a while away for you, so take notes that you can pull back out when the time comes. They will jog your memory and ensure that your placement is still helping you.
Going on a work placement is the perfect opportunity to try out working life, and could show you what your future career will look like - or what it shouldn’t. By utilising these simple tips your experience from your work placement should be helpful for years to come.
Visit Milkround School Leavers for more career advice along with hundreds of apprenticeships and school leaver schemes.
Images courtesy of Jonathan Mueller, Ben R, Kamal Hamid, English106 & Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier