As if we hadn’t told you enough about how important work experience is, be prepared for more because today is the beginning of Work Experience Week. Give Youth a Chance initiated this week-long campaign to get people talking about the benefits of work experience. So what would be the biggest benefit of all? Getting a full-time, paid, real-life, *actual* job out of it. Because that’s what everyone wants really, isn’t it? These four lucky workies landed their jobs on the back of their work experience (including our very own graphic designer, James!).
When Charlotte finished sixth form, her mind wasn’t set on going to university. Instead, she contacted the daughter of family friend who worked for a creative agency called fst: “She told me all about her job and I instantly loved the sound of it, so I asked if she could put me into contact with someone to organise work experience,” Charlotte told us.
“During the week, I helped several people including the account handlers and even the creatives and I thoroughly enjoyed the week and it must’ve shown through!”
At an office leaving party near the end of her week, the MD asked Charlotte if she wanted to shadow him for a day: “Obviously I said yes as this was a great opportunity! I spent the following Tuesday shadowing the MD, and after this, I was offered the position of an account coordinator. I’m now doing my foundation certificate of CIM alongside work.”
Tip: Be confident and ask lots of questions. Don’t sit quietly waiting for work to come to you; be proactive.
Luke spent his summer holidays after his second year of university on a work placement in construction, which he got through a friend. “At the time, with construction still deep in recession it was actually very hard finding work unless you were very proactive or knew someone in the industry, so I made the most of good contacts!
“The work I was given tended to be simple tasks, but I worked hard to finish them quickly and efficiently and show I was aware the small tasks were part of a bigger picture.”
Luke made a big effort to show interest in everything that was going on, having been told by his manager at the time there was ‘no such thing as a stupid question’. “I also made an effort with all the new people I met; it’s surprising how many people you recognise later in your career from the early days.
“The company approached me just before my final exams in the third year when an assistant decided to leave the company and offered me a job.”
Tip: Leaving on good terms stating your intention that you’d love to come back can keep that door ajar later down the line.
A four-week, unpaid work experience at the BBC to a production runner on Top Gear is quite a progression, and Nick explains how his placement bagged him a full-time job.
“After university I applied for eight different BBC work experience schemes all over the country,” he said.“A few months later I got a phone call and then interview at the BBC in Salford for a month-long work experience. It was an informal chat and while I was on placement, they offered me a temporary role as a runner on a new BBC Three Entertainment show.”
Nick worked on this fixed term contract for six months, and then went up and down the country meeting as many BBC contacts as he could: “I was spurred on by the fact that the producers who first hired me told me they’d both joined the industry through work experience.”
“Fortunately a few weeks later I was offered another runner contract on Antiques Roadshow. Three months into that contract I got a call to interview for a runner role on Top Gear; I later got the job and moved to London. I’m still at the bottom of the ladder, but I think it’s a really cool ladder to be on!”
Tip: Go above and beyond what your role entails. If someone’s got a menial task to do, put up your hand and be enthusiastic about doing it.
Our very own designer – the one who creates the funky banners on top of all our features and infographics – landed his first full-time job after a work experience placement. “I saw the advert and was successful in applying for work experience at GoThinkBig while I was already doing another two-day a week internship.
“During the placement, my main responsibilities were to design images for features. I loved it and the team were very friendly; it was such a nice environment to work in.” James made an effort to show off his skills during the two weeks, and then went back to his internship.
“A few weeks later, a member of the team let me know that the graphic designer was leaving, and a full-time role was going. I applied through the site, and was successful in getting an interview.”
“I got the job, and in my opinion, I wouldn’t have got it without my work experience, I made the mistake of not doing internships and work experience at uni, so I had to do it afterwards. Even though I graduated in 2011, it took me until September 2013 to get a full-time job in the career I wanted.”
Tip: Make an effort to chat a little to the team you’re working with – this will show you’re confident working in a busy office environment. If you sit in silence it could give the impression that you’re not interested in the placement or company.
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