You HAVE to do work experience whilst you’re at uni. If you haven’t already, hurry up and get applying. Think about it, if you don’t try out your supposed ‘dream job’ before you leave uni, you could spend years trying to get it. Then, behold! You’re offered the job and… oh. It’s not quite what you had built up in your head all these years. If only you’d tried it out when you were young and free and still had the chance…
I have always wanted to be a journalist and I love to write, but it’s always good to check it out in the real world. That’s why I spent the week at The Salisbury Journal, a local newspaper and website near my home town. Here are my top tips on how to survive the experience of work.
Look the part
Don’t turn up looking like a student, you’ll only get treated like one. Ditch the jeans and converse and put on a shirt and tie or a skirt and blouse. You’ll instantly feel like you fit in and people will start to take you seriously.
I probably enjoyed the sophisticated, London, work look a bit too much, but I looked the part whenever I turned up to an event to interview someone. Nobody assumed I was the work experience girl when I had the pen and paper in my hand so I was able to really get into the role without feeling insignificant and inexperienced. People thought I was the professional (until they realised I couldn’t write shorthand and interviews were painfully slow. Alas, one day I might actually be the professional).
Be the tea maker
Who doesn’t love someone that’ll bring them a hot beverage throughout the day. It’s a sure fire way to get to know everyone (well, get to know how they take their tea) and get them on your side. Make them their perfect cuppa and who knows, they might just give you something fun to do.
More tea equals more responsibility, right?
Muck in and do whatever anyone asks (within reason)
If they want you to type letters, write up press releases, proofread or just sit and read newspapers, do it. It’s all experience and it’s all worthwhile. Someone has to do it, so be helpful and take a load off of everyone else.
You’ve got to start at the bottom and earn their trust and approval. Do not march in their acting like you’re better than everyone, because, no offense, but you’re not. The people you’ll be working with (hopefully) know how to do their job, so don’t tell them how to do it better. That will get you nowhere fast.
Watch and Learn
And when you’ve got 10 mins left until you finish your work experience, and you get a call that the President of the United States is on his way to Stonehenge… Don’t think! Just go!
Basically, if you have the opportunity to do something, even if it’s scary and way out of your comfort zone, just do it. That’s what I did, and it will probably be the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me for quite some time. But after a week of writing about gardening clubs and old people’s homes, all surprisingly rather enjoyable, I got the chance to go and see the President of the United States, Mr Obama himself, turn up at Stonehenge. Maybe I didn’t get to put my new interviewing skills to the test but it was an amazing experience to watch the professionals do what they do best. From the moment they knew about his arrival, right up until the article was published online, the speed and professionalism at which the reporters and photographer worked was remarkable. It was an honour to see it all come together and a great end to the week!
Just give it a go. Work experience looks great on your CV, it helps you decide what you do, or do not, want to do and it gives you a taste of the real world of work. If you get the chance to do it, go for it, and if you don’t, make it happen yourself.
Thanks to mine, I know 100000% that I want to be a journalist. On to the next step!
(Thank you to The Salisbury Journal for being so welcoming and letting me do so much during my work experience, you’re a lovely group of people and it was an honour to see you all at work)