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How to Make the Most of a Work Experience Placement

Once you finish your postgraduate degree, you’ll likely be stepping into the world of work, but doing so can be difficult even with your shiny new degree in hand. Gaining professional experience in your field is one of the most vital steps in securing a job after your studies are over. This isn’t just a case of convincing the boss of your favourite company to let you follow them around for a week. Getting yourself a work placement is an exceptional way to get experience, and they look fantastic on a CV too. If you do succeed in finding a work placement during your postgraduate course, here are a few tips that will help you to make the most of it. 

Get something out of it 

It’s easy to get carried away and apply for every available postgraduate work placement. However, slow down and consider what you really want from a work experience stint. Think specifically about what you need, then offer yourself to those who can provide it.  

Sadly, you’re unlikely to be paid a lot for your time. When you’re sacrificing time from your own busy work schedule, it’s good to know that you’re getting something out of the bargain. If you’re able to make new for your portfolio or your placement, or build out your contacts list, this can be particularly advantageous.  

Be enthusiastic 

When presented with a dull task on your placement, take the opportunity to prove your commitment by performing it eagerly. Try to think of relevant questions you can ask to find out more about your duties and how you can proficiently finish them. 

For example, if you’re given a basic research task, try formatting your findings in a way that your supervisor will be able to use directly. As well as proving your initiative and skill, this could save someone a lot of time. 

Work quickly 

On placement, it can be difficult to strike that perfect balance between seeming eager and giving your potential employer the space to get on with their own work. Avoid the temptation to slow down your usual pace so that others aren’t inconvenienced by your request for things to do. 

If you’re able to work quickly and efficiently, you shouldn’t waste the opportunity to prove it. One solution to the above problem is to line up a sequence of tasks with your supervisor so you won’t have to interrupt them frequently. 

Only commute as a last resort 

Commuting is exhausting and expensive. We don’t recommend commuting for a work placement unless the company is reimbursing you for travel costs and offering you a spectacular opportunity in the industry that you’re interested in.  

If there’s a work placement that you can’t pass up which you would need to commute for, seek out relatives or friends in the area who might let you stay with them during the placement. 

Make friends with the coffee machine 

Clichés about the intern making coffee all day might be outdated, but it still doesn’t hurt to offer. If there’s a coffee machine in your office, use it as an excuse to network with your coworkers who might be able to help you with future work opportunities. Plus, a caffeine boost never goes amiss! 

Next: Read more postgraduate life advice


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