Support on work experience
Making the most of your experience
Before you begin
You will get more out of any work experience if you have at least some idea of what you are hoping to get out of it before starting. Whether it is one day, or a whole year, spend some time considering your objectives, for example;
- Are there particular areas of the business you would like to learn about or experience?
- Are there specific skills you would like to develop?
Doing as much research as possible about the company and business sector beforehand will also help you get the most out of the experience.
For financial information on fees, student loans, maintenance loans and the Leeds bursary view the Tuition fees and loans: facts and figures.
For information on tax visit the HM Revenue and Customs webpage or speak to the HR contact where you're working. HM Revenue and Customs have a Student Tax Checker, so if you think you've overpaid tax you can check if you're due a refund.
You'll stay registered as a student whilst on placement so don't forget to check for available discounts e.g. if you're working in London you're eligible for a student Oyster card. Your university department can provide a letter to prove your status as a student should you require one.
If you're looking for accommodation ask your employer can they recommend areas to live in or places to start your search, they may be able to put you in touch with other placement students for a houseshare or in touch with their current placement student for advice. If you're undertaking a placement in London you may find Room for Tea, a homesharing network useful.
There are many ways you can ensure you get the most out of your experience, we have outlined our six top tips below.
1. Be proactive and enthusiastic
Project a 'can-do' attitude, even if you are not hugely excited about your duties. Actively seek out opportunities to try out different things and approach your manager with any ideas or projects you feel you could tackle and which would benefit the company.
2. Be flexible and give your best
Getting involved and assisting others when they have tight deadlines or are under-staffed will develop your skills and strengthen your reputation.
3. Find a mentor
You may be assigned a mentor, or you may have the opportunity to find one, either formally or informally. Having a mentor can be a great way of helping you settle into a role, giving you support generally, support during the review process or with any issues you may be facing.
The more people you know - and who know you - the better. Spend time cultivating relationships; this can help you further your personal development, gain valuable information, as well as developing a network which could potentially be valuable in the future.
5. Be an 'intrapreneur'
Entrepreneurs are dynamic people who make things happen. They motivate, are enthusiastic and driven, they take and manage risk, exploit opportunities and are good networkers. Whilst entrepreneurs typically develop their own businesses, intrapreneurs are employees, but bring the same characteristics to the workplace
6. Reflect and evaluate
These are continuous processes that help you clarify what you have learned and are vital elements in getting the most from any experience. Your findings help you make informed decisions about which path your career should follow as well as providing convincing evidence in future applications. Ask yourself the following as a minimum:
- What went well?
- What impact did you have on the department or organisation?
- What might you have done differently?
- How might you handle situations differently in the future?
- How did other members of the team deal with situations?
- What skills did you develop and how?
After your experience
Keep a record of your reflections - these will be really useful for future applications and interviews. It is really worth trying to maintain the relationships you developed during your experience; perhaps ask your colleagues if they are happy to connect on LinkedIn?