Five skills I’ve developed through my work experience placement
I’m Laura, a year 10 student on my work experience placement at GTI Media in Wallingford. GTI Media is a company that publishes materials to help bridge the gap between school leavers, universities and employers – including the TARGETcareers website. I’ve been working in the editorial department for the past week, where they create, edit and manage the content that is produced.
During my time here I have written articles, conducted an interview and done research for competitor analysis. A lot of people don’t take the time to consider what they have learned from their work experience. But it is important to take a step back and think about what skills you’ve obtained. Here are a few of the skills that I feel I have developed.
While I was here I got the opportunity to interview one of the senior editors and write an article about her career. I was incredibly nervous in the days leading up to it, despite the fact that I knew the person I was interviewing was perfectly pleasant and not scary in the least. However, this apprehension surrounding the interview motivated me to do my research and prepare myself for every eventuality. In the end the interview was very enjoyable. I found out lots of interesting facts and anecdotes about my interviewee and had plenty of material to write up my article.
Although this newly acquired skill may seem pointless to many, I feel it will definitely help me when I enter the world of work post-university. As I most want to work in either criminal psychology or journalism, interviewing people would be a large part of either of these careers. So the ability to conduct an interview confidently and be well prepared will be incredibly useful.
Working to a deadline
As I am writing this article, I am working to a deadline. Most young people are used to working to deadlines of some description (homework being the obvious), but the turnaround in the workplace is often much tighter. Prioritisation and minimising faffing are key points that I’ve found useful when trying to complete tasks by lunchtime, or by the end of the day. This is a really important skill to have in any work place, or even at school. Revision, essays, university applications and personal statements all have deadlines and the more practice you have at working quickly while maintaining standards, the better.
Determination, perseverance and resolve
Okay, that’s technically three skills, but it’s worth it to stress how important these things are. As a black belt in the art of procrastination it is very easy for me to give up on something when it doesn’t quite go to plan. It is perfectly okay to struggle with some things more than others, but it is not okay to completely ignore the more challenging tasks. Remember the interview that I did? Well the article was no walk in the park to write. I spent over three hours writing and deleting, structuring and restructuring until I had a first draft. The only reason I got to that point is because I was being held accountable for completing that task, which gave me an unexpected burst of willpower to get it finished.
Determination is a skill that everyone needs, for school, work and even day to day life. Without it nothing would ever get done. We’d have no inventors and in turn no inventions. There would be no sports or films on the TV. And we’d all probably die of starvation from our lack of ability to follow through on cooking. So when the task is hard, search for your inner perfectionist and get down to business.
Learning from mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. It is a fact of life. So why do we get so caught up in regret and embarrassment when we make one? I know I certainly do. One of the most important things I’ve learned over my time on this placement is that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Now I know you get told this all the time, but it has never truly sunk in for me until now. If you make a spelling mistake, you don’t know how to send an email, or you spill something, it is okay! The chances are you won’t make that same mistake again. And please, if you make a mistake tell somebody. Don’t just sit there stewing in your fear that someone will tell you off. You’re not an employee, so they’re not going to expect you to get everything right 100% of the time!
This skill is important for so many reasons, but particularly for those post-mock blues. When I do badly in mock papers I generally spend a lot of time wallowing. This time is better spent identifying where you went wrong and improving. This is what mocks are for. And when those all-important GCSEs, A levels or entrance exams roll around you’ll be thankful that those mistakes helped you prioritise and revise effectively.
One thing everybody needs to be able to do is communicate, whether you’re discussing a brief, writing an article, or conducting an interview. One of the goals I set myself before the start of my placement was to reduce my anxiety when talking to strangers (and especially adults). I truly believe that this experience has helped me to develop my communication skills. I can speak clearly, thoughtfully and without feeling nervous. Sometimes the most important developments are the small ones and getting used to talking to strangers is going to help me massively in the future, especially at things like interviews, meetings and even college and university open days.
What can you do with the skills you’ve learned?
Work experience is an incredibly valuable opportunity; it gives you the chance to explore the world of work in a way that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access at this age. You’ve probably gained more from it than you realise. When you’re putting your work experience on your CV (and you really should be putting it on your CV) make sure to think about what skills you’ve developed and what you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to talk about your placement in your UCAS statements or to bring it up in interviews. Even if your placement wasn’t directly related to the career path you want to follow, your skills are transferable! Keep looking for places to further develop your skills – the more confident you are in them, the more employable you’ll be in the future.