Opinion: Why summer work experience should be treated like an interview

Opinion: Work experience should be treated like an interview

Juliet Cameron, chief operating officer at Launch, argues that both interns and employers should look to summer internships as an extended job interview.

Too much work experience on a CV never looks good as we know that savvy candidates see a placement for what it is: One long interview. If work experience is handled well, it could result in a job of a candidate’s dreams, now or in the future.

At Launch we offer paid work experience placements and see these as a key part of our succession planning strategy. Those who’ve made (the right) impression as a ‘workie’ number some of our brightest rising stars, including a current account manager and three execs.

Every work experience placement is an opportunity – not just to bolster your CV but to get hired once you’ve sussed out whether you like the nature of the work and the culture. We always give people an itinerary and induction to our business before we allocate them key tasks – but the rest is very much up to them.

So how can you show you’ve got what it takes to be a comms professional of the future without looking over confident and high-fiving the CEO as you take the top chair in the boardroom?

Introduce yourself

It sounds obvious but this is so important. Your buddy will no doubt introduce you to key people on day one, but if they don’t or if later in the week there are new faces, be proactive and introduce yourself. A great way to make early friends and keep engaging with people is to do the tea round, often.

Always show willingness

We’ve all been there. You’ve done your finals, have some strong work experience placements under your belt and quite frankly you might feel a bit overqualified to source a pink flamingo hat, hunt down a copy of “Pigeon Keeper Weekly” or get in the chocolate brownies for a meeting.

You’re not. Show genuine enthusiasm for every task you are given and it will be noted. Employers know your academic credentials, what they want to see is some great common sense, perseverance and resilience. Buying pink flamingo hats is not easy!

Take notes

If you’re in a meeting or even an informal catch up, take your note book and write notes. You may never need them, but it makes you look organised and keen. And, you never know when someone may come back to you and ask you to do something related to that meeting.

Get involved

Accept every invitation – to meetings, team lunches, socials whatever. If people are inviting you to stuff it hopefully means they are happy to have you along. Good start.

Get to know your colleagues, ask them questions, act interested (even if you’re not) and be open about you, your interests and passions. But, do NOT drink too much. Never as a ‘workie’.

Be a meerkat

You need to have your eyes and ears open at all times so that you’re not only taking everything in and learning, but it also means you can contribute to the office banter and show your personality (very important), and also volunteer your help at every opportunity showcasing your skills.

Have fun! The job is yours for the taking.

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