How to... make the most of your work experience
Published: 03 Dec 2012
Work experience placements are a great opportunity to build valuable skills, experience and contacts which you can draw upon in your future sports industry career. These opportunities also give you an insight into whether a potential career path is the right direction for you. It’s important to make the most of any opportunities you pursue and to treat them like you would any normal job. If you do well at a placement, this might be the perfect way to get your foot in the sports industry door.
Be realistic in what you’re going to be assigned to do at a work experience placement. Even some of the most exciting internships available in the industry will start out with routine tasks. But remember that the simplest tasks which you may be given can develop skills such as organisation, attention to detail and teamwork. All candidates need to build a level of trust and if you do this well, then more interesting opportunities may follow.
It doesn’t matter if the work is unpaid or only for a short period of time. It’s important to remain just as professional in your role as if it was a full-time paid position. Turn up on time and look the part (check the dress code before you start). Don’t spend time on personal errands or calls, avoid taking extended breaks and if possible try and offer your services to stay late if there’s an important task that needs to be completed. Leave an impression with the employer for the right reasons and show that you’re a reliable employee. Be helpful where you can. Remember - you should be trying to make less work for your colleagues, not more.
Employers are looking for someone who is keen and willing to throw themselves at challenges. Although you might only be spending a short period of time at the organisation, try to make yourself indispensable. Get yourself involved in all areas that you can and take any opportunities that you get to show your initiative and how you can contribute ideas to the company. Even if you don’t feel it, by always coming across enthusiastic and up for the task you’ll be leaving a good lasting impression with the employer.
Be the neutral person in the office and think before you speak. Don’t get dragged into office politics and stay firmly on the outside. Although you want to appear enthusiastic, commenting on an aspect of work or expressing your opinion when it’s not relevant will not be appreciated in the office. Remember that you’re new and should respect the relationships and processes that are already in place.
However your work experience turns out take the opportunity to learn from it. Take everything in that you experience, even if it’s just how your colleagues are working around you. In some circumstances candidates will be hoping for an offer of a permanent position at the end of their experience. However in most situations work experience is simply what it says it is – an experience. But if you approach the work in the right way, you’ll always come out of the placement having learnt some important aspects of that industry sector, what a full-time position would be like, and whether you would fit into that area of sport. Think of work experience as an opportunity to re-evaluate your career and whether this is still the path you’re looking to take.