toptips_ Work Experience 101
Work experience is a great way to get “employable”. So you’ve managed to get a foot in the door. We asked a whole bunch of interesting people from film directors to creative directors to financial directors about what their thoughts on work experience. So, next time you’re making the tea or Google-searching your heart out and the office *terrifies* you, just give this a read……
1. How important do you think getting work experience (in any sense) is to being employable?
the Film Director said:
I think it’s vitally important to get work experience to being employable, particularly in the field of employment you wish to head into. I believe it’ll fully inform you of what’s expected in the workplace and give you the knowledge and skills with which to focus on what employers are looking for as you apply for that job.
the Social Media Guru said:
Very. I’ve had a lot of s**t work placements from working in a pharmacy as a mini security guard (baby food watchman), to stacking shelves in a dilapidated Maplins - but each experience gives you different tastes of different working environments, from the people to the work ethics. In the long run, I think that can shape you, opening your eyes to what you do and do not want to do (if you don’t know already), give you networks and opportunities (if you grab them and take initiative), and of course, each placement is another notch on your CV. Work experience can often be a drag if you’re not getting paid and doing something you love, but no one find their dream job without a bit of hustle.
the Chairman said:
I think it’s essential, many nuances of an office are often unteachable and non sensical. How are you supposed to teach office politics? Navigating an office is as much intuition as it is skill based, and intuition is honed in experience. The tangible deliverables of Job Descriptions and qualifications, are helpful but one dimensional. More often than not, people want members of the team to ‘fit in’ or something equally impossible to demonstrate on paper, or learn in school.
2. Would you ever consider giving advice and/or allowing someone to shadow you? What would be the circumstances you’d allow that?
the Finance Director said:
Yes. Shadowing is how people learned jobs in the “olden days” when I was young. You worked with, watched and emulated a more experienced person. Bit by bit, you took on more responsibilities until without realising it, you were as good as your mentor. The key thing expected from the understudy is an element of humility. Nobody likes the smarty pants who thinks they are every bit as good as an experienced person because they wrote a paper on the subject at university.
the Telly Person said:
Definitely. I think I like people who make it easy for me though - they call and show a bit of extra effort. Not just a lazy email asking me to write a long email back with advice. When I was job hunting I found that asking for an informal chat over coffee, after giving a bit of structure in terms of the role I was looking for (important to give some focus) worked well - and being flexible even if it meant going across london to meet people before they go to work!
the Creative Director said:
Yes, I’ve done it many times in many ways. Generally if they’ve taken
the initiative to come and ask me for advice / experience / mentoring
etc then they deserve to get it - but yes, politeness and a genuine
sense of interest and drive should come through. The worst thing they
can do is say something like ‘my dad/teacher/line-manager’ said i
should come and talk to you - because then you know that the impetus
is not from within them, they’re heart won’t be in it and it’ll be
like pushing water up hill.
3. What would be your Golden Rule when networking
the Social Media guru said:
I was always told to leave an impression, make sure they remember you. But I think it’s just as important to get contact details and FOLLOW UP. If you’re at an event with loads of people, it’s even harder to be remembered among the noise. A follow up email/phone call in the morning puts extra weight in your corner and shows that person you mean business.
The Events Manager said:
Try and add value too - its not just one way and you getting something from them - what can you offer back - passion, research, your contacts?
the Finance Dude said:
Listen. Be interested in the other person. Absorb. Some of these people are founts of knowledge. If you have little experience, its not a crime.
4. What do you deem to be cardinal sins when being a work experience? Anything to avoid/etiquette/etc?
the Exec Producer said:
Lateness, insensitivity/tactlessness and not really a cardinal sin, but I think lots of people don’t help themselves by not defining their goals enough/dont know what they want - people can help you more if you give them more information about what it is you want. Working on a focussed ‘elevator pitch’ means you’ll get more out of networking.
the Social Media Guru said
Being rude, being late (to meetings and networking events), not taking down notes (logging everything you can take away from the encounter from tips, to ideas and contact details), and a general sit back and can’t be bothered attitude. If you want to kick start your career you need to go for it.
5. Any key advice in general to young people just starting out their careers?
the Creative Director said:
The best thing any young person can do is take a large packet of Milk
Chocolate Hob Nobs (not Plain Chocolate!) with them on the second day of their work experience (def not the first day!). Then at 3.45pm
exactly, wander around the entire office/filmset/farm/factory offering
everyone a biscuit, introducing themselves and asking them what they
are working on and. Nobody can resist a chocolate hobnob so they will
be powerless to resist engaging in a conversation with them - and the
more you know about what everyone does, how you might be able to help them, and for them to know who you are, then the quicker you can make yourself indispensable. The best £1.75 you’ll ever spend.
the Account Executive said:
You must be positive, because rejection will happen! But persevere, and prepare, prepare, prepare and every interview you go to act like everyone else is applying for their absolute dream job and is doing their best as well so you have to do even better. (If that makes sense?)
the Finance Dude said:
Accept that you don’t know everything. Be willing to learn and take knowledge in new and unexpected ways - not just from training programmes, but listening to the oldy talking about real life experiences. Some of the most valuable stock market lessons I learned at 18 came from my boss back then. He was a junior clerk back in 1929 when the stock market crashed. He told me real life stories that were his first hand experiences of the event. I can say truly that I heard about 1929 from someone who was there. Worth its weight in gold.
the Telly Person said:
Remember that money isn’t everything- so choose a job or career around what makes you tick not the chance to earn mega bucks- especially when you are young and don’t have as any responsibilities or expenses like kids, houses, mortgages, expensive divorce settlements and Botox etc hahaha!
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