Often when you’re in a workplace on work experience, you’ll be invited to join in team activities after work. And more often than not, these activities will revolve around the pub. And while this can be a great opportunity to get to know the team a bit better, it can also hold the potential for disaster. We spoke to Estelle Jackson who works in resourcing at Telefónica O2 to get her advice on surviving after work drinks with your team.
First things first, Estelle recommends definitely going for drinks if you can. “If you’re doing a work experience and you want people to get to know then you should always try and go,” she says. “But what you don’t want to do is drink ten pints and end up on your bum because that’s not really going to do you any favours.”
Let’s be honest, you don’t want your reputation at the company to be ‘that’s the girl/guy who fell over when we went for drinks’. You’ll never live it down and if you’re hoping to land a job at the company that’s not what you want to be remembered for. But it can be a really useful networking opportunity and Estelle says that a lot of interns at Telefónica later apply for graduate positions and if they’ve got involved with social activities with a team then they’ve already done the hard work of building up a network.
However, Estelle warns about your conduct when you’re out for drinks. “Just because you’re at the pub doesn’t mean you’re not being viewed as a potential employee.”
That said, you definitely want to let your personality shine through, there’s no point in going for drinks if you’re going to sit in the corner texting your mates. “Don’t be a wallflower if you’re not normally a wallflower,” Estelle recommends. “But at the same time you have to think through making a good impression, what people are going to be thinking of you when you’re back at work?”
While it’s fairly obvious to say ‘don’t drink too much’, Estelle takes it one step further and says that if you’re thinking about drinking for a bit of Dutch courage to stick to soft drinks. “Don’t go down that road because it really doesn’t help and it can cause serious issues.”
One example of this happened at a company Estelle worked at before joining Telefónica. Her team went for drinks at the end of one day to welcome a new member to the team. But it didn’t go quite so well for that new member. “She got so drunk – I’ve never seen anyone get so drunk,” Estelle says. “And as we came out of the bar she fell down a step and smashed her face on the pavement and broke her nose.” Unsurprisingly she was so embarrassed that she never went back to that job.
However, if you get socialising with a team right it can really help your career. Estelle told us about how she’d hired a lot of the team who were working on Campus Party at The O2 last year, and then ended up working really closely with them at the event. So close that they were actually camping together at The O2. And now she works with some of the team on a more regular basis and as a result it’s more fun and easier to work with them. “Building that rapport with people that you’re going to end up working with is awesome,” she says. “You get to know a bit about them – you know if they’ve got a young family, you know what their hobbies are and that really works in your favour when you then get put on a project with them, or working with them day to day.”
So, remember: go for drinks with the people you’re working with on work experience but don’t go crazy. “Always bear in mind when you’re on work experience going to the pub with your team is kind of an extension of your workplace,” Estelle adds. “Be yourself but just bear in mind that if you know you get really drunk on one sniff of wine then maybe stay away from the wine.”
For more on how you should act while on work experience, have a look at…