If you’re about to start your placement year here’s some great advice from Amy Rule, BA (Hons) Public Relations and Digital Communications, to get you through your first week.
Hi I’m Amy and I’m currently on placement in a marketing agency. The first week flew by and despite being understandably nervous on my first day, the team quickly took me under their wings and so I adapted to the change pretty early on I like to think. With some of you starting your placements in the next few weeks, I thought I’d write my first post about my top five tips from my (very) recent experience for surviving your first week.
1. Look the part
Do some research and find out what the dress code is for the company you’re going to be working for. You really don’t want to rock up on your first day wearing your slouchy jeans and that really old but comfy top. Aside from sticking out like a sore thumb if everybody else is in suits, you also risk making a bad first impression. Luckily for me, my manager contacted me before I started and let me know that apart from on days with client meetings, the dress code is pretty casual. However, on the first day I still turned up with relatively smart clothes on just to make the right impression.
2. Be friendly, yet professional
I understand that you’re nervous, believe me, I totally get it. But I’m going to share a little trick with you that has worked wonders for me over the past few years in both education and employment. You might not feel confident, but you can act it. Honestly, it works, and eventually you won’t be pretending! Walk in with a smile on your face, say hello to everybody if you’re introduced around the office, talk to people if you bump into them, just generally be a nice person. It’s easy to come off as rude when you’re actually just quiet and shy. Just be careful, as being overly confident and chatting to those around you all day can be just as bad as saying nothing at all!
3. Jump in at the deep end
You’re going to be in your placement for a pretty long time, so it’s best to get into office life as soon as you can. Don’t avoid eating in the lunch room, it’s a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues and even make friends. If you’re invited out for lunch or a staff night out, go! The more you withdraw from things like these, the more unapproachable you could seem which could make the whole year a lot harder for you.
4. Work hard
This kind of goes without saying, but it’s important to make sure you do it all day, every day! Don’t forget that you’re only on placement and so more often than not you won’t be singlehandedly creating, designing and running projects (though if you’re great at what you do, why not?!) so don’t turn your nose up at smaller jobs like research or admin. These can be great ways to show your potential and can turn into stepping stones to bigger and better tasks! If you finish one task, don’t sit there spinning around in your chair or staring off into space, ask if there’s anything you can help with or take the initiative to create work for yourself. You can read articles that are relevant to your placement, work on your PDP for your placement or even contribute to this blog! There is always something you can be doing, so don’t waste your placement year doing the bare minimum.
5. Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions at any time during your first week. It can be pretty daunting trying to take all the information in. As you’re going to be responsible for a chunk of work across the year, it’s so important to understand it all as soon as possible so try and glean as much information as you can. Writing down everything is really helpful as you can always come back to it if you forget something. I’ve also been writing down any questions that pop into my head as I go along, so that before the previous student on placement leaves, I can make sure to ask her!
I hope these tips help you during your first week and although it can seem scary at first, especially because typically you’ll be there for a whole year (!) you’ll have settled down in no time. Don’t forget to have fun along the way and make the most of your time; the experience you receive will be second to none.