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Preparing for Work Experience: A Checklist

Got some work experience coming up?  Particularly, journalistic-related work experience?  Checkiddy-check yourself before you wreck yo’self!

The Dinero

A good few months before hand, get to grips with your finances – really, this is an important one to look at.  Think big picture stuff first, then work your way down to the little things.  For example, accommodation or commuting costs are the main worries, plus any outgoings you have already (i.e. rent/bills to pay).  Then consider any daily travel (London?  Oyster yourself up), lunch costs, small necessities or entertainment (perhaps if you want to be able to say ‘yes’ to drinks out with colleagues, should the opportunity ever arise…)  Try and think about every eventuality, and then spare yourself a little extra for that thing you forgot you’d be buying every week.

P.S.  I am the worst case of not taking my own advice.  And I survived.  So don’t stress too much, but try and think ahead to what your back-up plan will be in case all else falls flat.  Can you rely on parents/other kind souls to bail you out?  Should you perhaps drop a few subtle hints beforehand, just so you can call up on a moment’s notice and not give them a small heart attack?  Maybe sell a few bits and bobs on eBay, just in case.  Everyone can do a lot worse than a wardrobe clear out via the magical medium of eBay.

 

The Outfits

So.  Hard.  So expensive, for me, as I did inappropriate and largely unfruitful last minute panic shopping.  Not recommended.  Hopefully, you may have met an employee or supervisor at an interview, so you can judge what a typical daily outfit might look like.  If not, follow the company and some of its employees on Twitter (if you weren’t doing that anyway, shame on you).  Firstly, you can get a glimpse at what they may wear/get a nosy look in the office.  Secondly, their Twitter account and tweets are BRILLIANT resources for the ‘feel’ of the workplace – from colleague interaction, to the work they generally do from day to day.  Obviously this is only a limited, carefully mediated peep into the office, but anything is better than nothing, and it’s great to learn workers’ names beforehand.

If I can only give one tip – wear flats.  Wearing heels to work is a silly idea anyway.  I witnessed many an intern painfully change into their thoughtfully-packed flats straight after their lunch hour.  Considering you will also have little to no idea what kind of work you will be doing, make sure you have at least two pairs of presentable and comfortable flat shoes to run around in…save the heels for nights out when you can’t hear the pain of your blisters over the raucous music.

The Preparation

As I mentioned, absolutely follow the company in question on Twitter.  If you don’t have or want a Twitter account, tough.  It’s worth getting one if only to follow five to ten recognizable names, particularly people you know you may be working with.  See above for the rest of the spiel.

Try and suss out what they may want from you… For example, I am about to do work experience with Marie Claire, on the Features desk.  At a recent event they ran, the Features Editor noted that doing a Journalism degree is invaluable for learning the basics of media law.  I do not have a Journalism degree.  I do, however, have a Kindle – so I’ve gone and bought a book on media law, which I am hoping to absorb by osmosis at some point.  I’m hoping that if any doubts about my lack of official qualification are raised, I can rebuff them with a big ‘BUT…I’m aware I lack this, and I’ve tried to take the matter into my own hands.’  Which I’m hoping will make me look proactive and resourceful.  A sort of Blue Peter job, but at least it shows I’m trying and that I’ve thought about these things.

And finally, try to know the company inside out.  For example, with publication/magazine based companies, become familiar with the type of work they produce, the regular features, their audience type, how and to what extent they use their social media… Then, when they say, ‘How do you fancy doing the research for this week’s ‘THIS IS HOT AND THIS IS ATROCIOUS’ item, you can be assured in knowing, a) What the fluff they’re talking about, and b) The tone it should be written in, and the work expected from you.  Preparing in a rather anal way for work experience may save you grief on the day of reckoning, when all you desperately want to do is impress anyone who happens to glance your way.

Je Ne Sais Quoi

You want to give that little extra – try to ‘think outside the box’.  A ridiculous proposition, so I’ll try and give you an example of what I mean (before I start, obviously the implied answer here is work hard and with a good attitude.  This is just a little extra, if you’re trying to be creative).  Before the end of my last placement (The Times Fashion, click click click), I was starting to think that I’d want to give a small parting gift on my last day.  As I mentioned in my post, I had a lovely time and my ‘supervisors’/’colleagues’ were very kind and accommodating.  So, as a gesture, I ordered some absolutely fantastic Biscuiteers’ biscuits to arrive at my address on my penultimate day (I wanted to deliver personally, by hand).  Click HERE for their website.  Well worth that bit of extra money, considering the prompt delivery, beautiful packaging, extensive range of customisable products and the gorgeous looking, freshly hand-made result.  The Fashion Editors were delighted by these treats that were not only edible but were also aesthetically AWESOME (something that was a prerequisite…being the Fashion section, and all).  I ordered two pieces in particular – a small array of cut biscuits that spelt ‘THANKS’, alongside a more seasonal selection of rabbits and painted Easter eggs with a personalised message on (it was April).  A small gesture, but they really helped me leave on a good note, and more importantly, show my appreciation.  Cheers, Biscuiteers!


If anyone has any further points to suggest for the checklist, hit me up on Twitter (see ‘Contact’ page above).

P.S.  The featured image has been slightly stolen from Google, from this tumblr:  http://diamondwizard.tumblr.com/   Thank you, Diamond Wizard.  Your name is glorious.

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