Being good at what you do is not only important for your employer, it’s how you build your confidence and identity, laying the foundations of a future job role in a field you enjoy. Our Internship Programme can be one of the steps towards a successful career. It will stand out on your CV as well as introducing you to the cultures and traditions of London.
But with little or no previous work experience, it can be difficult to know how best to succeed as an intern. Follow our guidelines and you may end up making some good connections on the way.
This is probably the most important step of all, and yet one that is often overlooked. There are many things you can do to prepare for your work experience, such as researching your company and industry, improving your English and watching English TV-programmes and films to familiarise yourself with British culture. Click here for more creative tips.
2. Showing interest
There is a great difference between someone who seems positive and eager to learn, and someone who sits quietly in the corner or stares moodily into their phone. Your mentor won’t trust you with challenging projects if you don’t show interest in your work. Approaching tasks with an open and friendly attitude and observing the routines and the roles of your colleagues is a great way to start. By asking questions you will show willingness to learn more about your organisation and how it operates. You will also avoid misunderstandings and get to know the people you work with. On the other hand, asking too many questions can prove distracting for your colleagues, so it can be a good idea to think twice before you approach your manager – making sure you can’t solve the problem on your own and that you have the question clear in your mind.
Is there a problem with your placement? Speak to your supervisor or colleagues. Most issues stem from misunderstandings or a lack of communication and can easily be solved by speaking to the right person. If the problem persists, don’t hesitate to contact us. Moreover, it can be a good idea to contribute to the transparency of your work place by regularly speaking to your colleagues, being active in meetings and passing on information that come your way.
4. Body language
By keeping your body language open, you invite people to speak to you, while by standing with your arms crossed or sliding halfway down your chair, you may come across as disinterested and rude. According to research, most communication is non-verbal – leaving us, literally, in the hands of our own… well, hands. It can be a good thing to keep in mind when you first introduce yourself to your colleagues.
5. “What else can I do?”
Proactivity is key to succeeding in any job. Do you see a table that needs cleaning? A child who is playing alone? A customer who is looking for help? Have you finished your given task and are waiting for something to do? Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues what else you can do to help.
6. Staying organised
To be trusted with bigger responsibilities, your colleagues have to be able to rely on you to be punctual and meet deadlines. Make sure you leave enough time for travelling, as London transport can slow you down in the morning. It can also be a good idea to write down your tasks or keep track of prospective deadlines or meetings in a calendar.
7. Accepting mundane tasks with a smile
In any job, there are tasks which are less motivating, like paperwork and filing, but that need to be done to ensure a smooth-running organisation. It’s important that you understand the importance of this kind of work and accept it with a can-do attitude. If you think you can be trusted with more difficult tasks, speak to your colleagues and express your thoughts in a friendly and polite manner. Most of the time, people are willing to cooperate as long as your wishes are reasonable and well-communicated.
8. Small talk
People in the UK are generally friendly and social and enjoy getting to know their colleagues. Don’t hesitate to join them for a tea break or chat over lunch. Small talk can be a great way to break the ice and feel more comfortable and confident at work.
9. Cultural differences
There will be many differences in the way people work, interact and behave compared to what you are used to at home. Rather than immediately dismissing these differences as negative, try to stay curious and open-minded. Just because you’re new to a way of working or communicating doesn't mean it’s less valid or effective. We are always here to help you if there is anything you’re unsure of.
10. Going the extra mile
When you have been at work for a few days, you might notice routines or certain patterns to the way people work. Does someone have an overwhelming workload? Is there a report that always needs to be printed before the morning meeting? Is there a messy cupboard in the corner of the classroom that nobody has time to clean? Go ahead and do it! People always appreciate a helping hand, especially when they don’t have to ask you for it.
11. Appreciating the full experience
The Erasmus+ programme is designed to give you an idea of what your industry is like in another country. You will get the most out of your experience by focusing on learning new ways to communicate and understanding your working environment and the routines in place. It might help to avoid looking at your placement from the focal point of what you normally do in school. Instead, try to zoom out and reflect on the bigger picture. If you are a media student, you might be placed in a company that doesn’t deal exclusively with film and photography or the area you are most interested in. It might be a web store that has a marketing department or a community centre specialising in media activities. Be open to new impressions and, rather than reacting negatively to the differences, try to find out why they are there.
Would you like to participate in our Internship Programme? Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.