When you’re doing work experience, you should definitely be yourself… but make sure it’s your best, most professional self. Here are ten things to avoid saying during your placement… 

If it’s a sweary, lairy office then by all means get involved once you’ve settled in – but don’t go in all guns blazing with an F word on a Monday morning before anyone’s had a chance to find out your name. In fact, don’t swear unless at least four other people have sworn while talking to you. Or someone has said “Do you swear? Swear! Swear or leave and never come back.”

Priorities! Priorities. Priorities?! Out of all the questions you could have asked about your work placement, all the advice you could have sought, all the insight you could have gained into the industry, you asked about the pub?!!! Also it makes everyone feel bad – did your last placement take you to the pub at lunch? Maybe they should take you too. Are they worse than your last placement? Oh look, everyone’s crying. 

Just not a great thing to say in any context. 

The unspoken rule of work is, even if you’re a total mess, try your hardest to conceal that fact until 5.30pm when you leave the building. If employed people work hard to pretend they’re on the ball, then you’ve got to learn how to do the same. Repeat after me: “Ah yes, I’m just getting to that now – have been a bit swamped.” 

Your boss’s mother is called Stephanie. The person you said it to is about to marry a girl called Stephanie. The company was founded by Stephanie Stephanie who everyone pledges allegiance to upon signing their employment contract. Basically, don’t bandy “I hate” opinions about the place because you might end up in a mega-awkward situation. 

Yeah so did everyone else in the office, but they’re employed and need some joy and freedom in their lives. You have two weeks, TWO WEEKS, to appear professional and hold off talking about your hangover, so try and avoid it. Any other day of the week you could totally stay in bed all day moaning, so at least pretend like you’ve made the effort to keep off the mega-boozing.

Using problematic words like “slag” (applies to all other casually offensive terms) could, erm, casually offend someone. Someone on a work placement recently talked about a famous celebrity being a “slag” in a meeting and it just cast a really weird atmosphere over the room. Don’t be the dude who cast a weird atmosphere over the room. 

Yeah you might be working with dinosaurs who really need a young pair of legs to rejuvenate the company, but try and demonstrate that without insulting them. If the people you’re working with don’t understand Twitter, then instead of going “OMG you don’t understand Twitter? AHAHAHAH!” frame it in a more “Oh I could help you out actually, I use it quite a lot!” It’s a subtle, but powerful, difference.

If your train is late one day, then get an earlier train the next day! Magic. Obviously people are late and that can’t be helped, but if you end up making constant excuses then everyone’s going to think you don’t care or you’re not organised or you’d prefer to be in bed than doing work experience. Sure, that might be true, but nobody got a job from lying in bed (apart from bed testers). 

Er, you applied for work experience. If you claim to have no clue about the lives of the people you’re sharing an office with then they’re likely to be a bit miffed with you. I mean, this is what they do every day, they’ve been nice enough to show you and give you some help towards getting the job you want, and you can’t be arsed finding out what they do?! Argh. 

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