Image courtesy of Matthew Ragan CC 2.0 Flickr
Work experiences can vary greatly – sometimes you’ll be thrown right in at the deep end, and others you’ll have to seek out challenges. Wherever you find yourself during university or after graduating, here are four things to remember to make work experience work for you.
Make contacts. Lots of them.
Work experience is your opportunity to meet those people who might be hiring you one day. If you show willingness to learn and enthusiasm for the line of work, your employer will remember you as a safe pair of hands – someone reliable. So, you’re increasing your employability with every good impression you make.
Learn the ropes
Being able to try your hand at the job is unquestionably good. Ok, you might not be performing surgery or presenting a case in court just yet – but being in that environment (hospital or court) will expose you to how things are done and the different expectations there are on different roles.
Even if you are only supporting someone else’s work, or shadowing them, being familiar with the surroundings will make future employers more likely to look favourably at your application.
This is particularly good for when you’re interviewed for that dream job. If you can back up your grades and enthusiasm with evidence that you have worked in the field in some capacity, the interviewer will see that you are serious about your chosen career.
See if it’s for you
Work experience isn’t just for the opportunity to break into a career; it’s your chance to see if the work is something you’d enjoy doing long-term. It’s a good idea to speak to the people who are doing the job already, buy them a coffee and take five minutes to ask them about the drawbacks as well as the advantages. You’ll be getting a clearer picture of whether the career is really for you or not.
What you still need to learn
There will always be a gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. You’ll not have all the skills or knowledge to just walk into your dream job. So use work experience to get a picture of the things you can do to improve and then go away and work on them.
|To throw somebody in a the deep end|
|Form||:||Phrase (refers to the deep end of a swimming pool, as opposed to the shallow end)|
|Meaning||:||To make someone do something difficult, especially a job, without much help.|
|Example||:||“On my first day at school I had to present to the whole class. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!”|
|A safe pair of hands|
|Meaning||:||Someone who can be trusted to do a good job|
|Example||:||I left Sandy in charge of the shop while I’m on holiday – she’s a safe pair of hands.|
|(Learn) the ropes|
|Meaning||:||To become familiar/skillful at doing something|
|Example||:||It took me a while to learn the ropes, but now I’m a skilled photographer.|
|Try ones hand at something|
|Meaning||:||To have a go at something (new)|
|Example||:||I’d like to try my hand at sailing one day. I’ve never done it before.|
|Meaning||:||A disadvantage. A feature that makes something less appealing.|
|Example||:||The main drawback of working in a bar is the unsociable hours.|