Yesterday was the first day back at uni, and I had a module called Work Placement. We had a guest speaker for our first lecture, Terry Smith, who has been working for the BBC for 25 years and is now at a Post Production House. He talked to us about how to get work placement during our third year, and also gave us quite a few tips on what to write in a covering letter, as well as how to perform when we actually get a job. I found his tips very interesting, and thought I’d share them here.
What he talked about first was the five key qualities a boss is looking for when hiring someone. And those are:
- Low maintenance
He told us to show initiative, to prove that we want to be there and learn, that we turn up on time or even 20 minutes early, and to communicate with your co workers. First impression means everything, and you never get a second chance to make it. We have to be the best version of ourselves and prove to them that they made the right decision in hiring you.
Another tip that Smith gave us was to rehearse how to get to your new job. On your first day you have to know where the company is so that you won’t be late. If you are then you might have been fired before you’ve even started. Keep extra change in case the tube or the bus isn’t working, so that you can take a taxi. Have a plan B and C, then you know for sure that you won’t be late.
I found it very interesting what he said about the covering letter that we have to write. During our second year at uni we had to write one such letter for our Career Preparation module, so yesterday we knew what he was talking about. It is one thing to write it to a teacher, but something else to write it to a future employer. What Smith told us was to make sure to write what position you are applying for, and to refer to your CV (as my CV shows..).
If you are lucky to get an interview, then it is important to sell yourself. Again, it is important to be there on time, look smart, and to show that you have knowledge about the company. You then need to prove that what you are saying is true. Don’t say that you can handle working under pressure if you can’t, they will eventually find out. And Smith told us that they are very likely to ask you; can you tell me about a time when you worked under pressure and how you handled it? You should then have prepared an answer to such a question before the interview so that you can tell the interviewee the perfect answer. Smith told us that this type of question can be divided into three sections:
- 20% - the scenario
- 60% - what did you do
- 20% - what made it a success, what did you do, how did you handle it
At the end of an interview, we were told to say to the interviewee that we would love this job! And also to send a thank you note or email. You are then showing them you are interested and hopefully you’re making an even better impression.
Another tip that I liked was that whenever we meet someone in our industry, like in my case it would be in the journalism industry, to make sure that we get their business card. This is called networking, and it can help us later to get an interview for another job, or help us with a story. They might know someone you need to talk to, and if they know your name and know how you work then they might be very helpful to you.
I actually liked the lecture very much. I found it very helpful, but obviously I don’t know how helpful it is when actually applying for work placement. But at this point the tips are making me feel comfortable in knowing how to approach and how to apply, and I guess I just have to remember that the opportunities are there, we all just need to find them.