Don’t get stuck in the corner of the office, too scared to say anything in case it sounds a) weird or b) mad. Instead, whip out one of these easy-to-use sentences suggested to us by Jess Comerford, currently on an industrial placement at O2, that are sure to get a convo going. Or at the very least, prevent people from thinking you’re a) weird or b) mad. Or c) unable to speak.

While this isn’t the most enlightening or exciting opener, it certainly opens things up to further discussion. Such as, how they find it, what they did before and where they live. If they respond: “Too long” and then turn back to whatever they were doing, then don’t be disheartened – they’re obviously a very bitter, sad person. Try your classic lines on someone with a bit more… life in them.

Try to make it something vaguely astute – blurting out “LONDON IS BIG” or “SLOUGH IS FAR” might alarm people – and this, again, furthers conversation because the natural response to you making a comment on the city, town or village you’re in is “Where do you live?”. And from there, you could ask them where THEY live and how their commute is. People bloody love talking about their commute.

Gauge the sort of office you’re in, and if there are any pop cultural references that might fit. So, if it’s a room full of very serious intellectual snobs, asking everyone what they thought of the X Factor final might draw a blank. If you can’t judge it, just throw anything out there and if you get a “No…”, you can fill them in on something amusing that occured or make a statement that shows you only watch it in the background but “sometimes it’s vaguely amusing”.

For the bold, but if you can muster the inner strength, then it’s totally worth it. Getting a one-on-one chat with someone you’re doing work experience with will give you a real insight into the company and people are a lot more loose-lipped over sandwiches – so more liable to let slip about whether they’re hiring. Or whether there’s an employment freeze and you’re wasting your time, in which case you can make preparations for your next placement. Other, less bold ways in are: “Where’s good for lunch?” (in the hope someone will say “Pret! I’m going there now, in fact!” and “What are people doing for lunch?” (in the hope someone will say “Chatting to you!”)

Nope, not saying that you have to be the tea-maker and only the tea-maker during your work experience but it is actually quite a good way to have a chat. They’ll tell you how they like it, you can say “Ohh you like one sugar? I have to have fifteen” or maybe ask them their opinion on Earl Grey or whether there are any herbal teas in the kitchen. Herbal teas always get a reaction – whether it’s “Oh I love green tea” or “God it tastes like a sad puddle” then hey presto, the ice is broken and you won’t feel so nervous going up to ask them if there’s anything they’d like help with.

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