Tips to get the most from your placement

The world of work can be a daunting place but fear not Azania McFarlane, BA (Hons) Marketing Management, has put together her top tips for making the most of your time on placement.

Azania McFarlane

Ok, so you’ve bagged the placement of your choice and finally got your foot in the door. But what’s next? It can be very overwhelming at first, but exciting too! I’ve put together a list of tips to help you out during your placement and beyond.

  • Say yes! The reason you decided to undertake a year in placement is to learn as much as possible. To do this, you should take every opportunity and run with it. Get involved in everything you can, whether it’s attending meetings and networking events or offering help to other members of staff. This may mean doing things outside of your comfort zone, but it’s the best way to learn, I promise!
  • Don’t understand something?… ask! Going into a company as a newbie can be a very mind-boggling experience and most companies will understand this. Don’t be too worried if you don’t understand something and don’t be afraid to ask, even if you feel silly. If you’re given a task to do that doesn’t make sense, ask someone to clarify. It’s better to carry out the task with full understanding and do a good job of it.
  • Be sociable. As scary as it may seem going into a work environment and probably not know anyone, try to speak to everyone. Don’t turn down the offer of a staff night out: take the opportunity to mingle and form relationships. Network for your life and form a long-lasting impression – it may very well help you out in the future!
  • Use your initiative. Although you’re new, don’t expect everything to be spelled out for you. Sometimes you have to use your common sense and find solutions to problems. No doubt your employers will be impressed. I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn as much as you can.
  • Stay organised. You’ve probably got a little comfortable with the student life thus far, so the early mornings may be a shock to the system at first. Set 10 alarms if you have to, just make sure you’re at your desk on time! Coffee will become your new best friend and you may even develop a slight caffeine addiction (this is perfectly normal). Tardiness and sloppy organisation skills will not go unnoticed. Make sure you’re meeting deadlines and keeping on top of emails.
  • Remember that you’re a placement student. Although it may be a ‘business’ or ‘marketing’ or ‘PR’ placement, it’s very likely you’ll be asked to do the odd admin job, or make tea. Don’t act high and mighty, just get on with it. Everyone has been at the bottom of the food chain at some point so just understand that it comes with the territory, it’s nothing personal.
  • Be productive! Being on placement you might sometimes find yourself with not much to do. As tempting as it might be, don’t waste your time on Facebook or doing online shopping! Use the time wisely by reading up on your area of work – find some informative blogs, or even write your own, do research or organise your inbox. Anything to avoid looking bored and unoccupied.
  • Manage your workload. It’s important to stay organised and manage your time efficiently. Trying to please everyone can leave you with way too much on your plate, so take on a manageable amount of tasks – quality always trumps quantity.
  • Learn from your mistakes. It’s only natural to make a few mistakes along way, so don’t stress. But it is really important to learn from these mistakes and avoiding repeating them in the future. It’s also useful to ask for regular feedback so you know you’re on the right track.
  • Enjoy it!
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