During the Internship Programme, vocational students from all over Europe have the opportunity to gain work experience in a London or Dublin organisation. Our placements range from nurseries and care homes to travel agencies and IT businesses. On the first day, we give an introduction where the students are walked through all the stages of the programme and what they can expect from their work experience. Still, first day nerves play a big part and is often the cause of unnecessary worries. So we have put together a step-by-step guide to what your first day might be like and what you can do to make the most of it.
This is probably the most important step of all, and yet it 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 British or Irish TV-programmes and films to familiarise yourself with British and Irish culture. Click here for more creative tips.
2. The journey
During the introduction on the first day of the Internship Programme, we explain the London or Dublin transport system and give all students individual and detailed maps that chaperone them from ADC College to the location of their work placement. They also get to do a trial journey there and back to prepare them for the following day – the first day of their work placement. However, they have to plan their journey from their host family to work themselves, which may look a little different. To do that, they can visit the Transport for London or Transport in Dublin websites or download the Citymapper app to their smartphone. Here is an article that explains everything about London public transport.
3. Leave home on time
Especially London is a busy city. 1.34 billion people travel via public transport every year, which can cause severe delays and traffic jams. Londoners are aware of this and leave home with plenty of time to spare in case they have to make an important meeting or, say, a job interview. And you should too. This is the first day of your work placement and it is important that you make a good impression. The distances in London are vast and it is a good idea to have fifteen minutes to spare. At the same time, don't worry in case your train is cancelled or you took the wrong turn when you exited the station – just let your placement know by calling your contact person (or ADC), so they know you are on your way. Even though Dublin is considerably smaller, the same rules apply.
4. Introducing yourself
Once you have reached your placement, step into the building and look for the reception (or approach a person with a name tag) and introduce yourself. For example by saying: "Hello my name is X and I am a student from ADC College. My work experience begins today and I am looking for my contact person Y."
Don't be afraid if the person you are speaking to doesn't know who you are. They might not be informed or deal with those kinds of responsibilities. Instead, be patient while the person looks for your contact person. In the unlikely event that your contact person isn't expecting you, call the ADC College office number (+44 20 8424 9424) and ask for your Country Manager. We will then deal with the issue on your behalf.
5. Your contact person and supervisor
Don't be surprised in case your contact person – that is the person who is responsible for you during your placement – turns out to be a different person from your supervisor. Sometimes the contact person is someone who works in the background of the organisation and deals with human resources and personnel, while one or several members of staff will take care of you and give you tasks on a day to day basis.
6. The introduction
On the first day you are likely to get an introduction to the organisation you are working for and what your work experience will entail as well as health and safety regulations. Make sure that you ask questions in case something is unclear. It might be a good idea to take notes, so bring a pen and paper or let the person know you are typing the information on your phone (otherwise they might think you are not paying attention!).
7. Speaking english and your body language
If you find English a little difficult to understand, ask your contact person or colleague to repeat the information slowly. It could go something like this: "I am not sure I understand. Could you repeat that please?" or "Could you speak more slowly, please?" London is a diverse place, full of people from all over the world, which means you are not the first person who has had trouble speaking the language. Don't be shy. The more you speak or try to express yourself, the more you will learn. According to research, most communication is non-verbal anyway. 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. That can be a good thing to keep in mind when you first introduce yourself to your colleagues – whether you have a straight A in English or not.
8. Is there anything I can help you with?
Your first day at work is about getting to know the place and your colleagues. You are unlikely to be handed any tasks. But it doesn't hurt to make yourself available. After your introduction and health and safety demonstration, you could ask your supervisor if there is anything you could help with or should prepare for tomorrow. Even if there is nothing more scheduled for the day, your supervisor will be impressed with you simply for showing initiative and a keenness to start working.
9. Getting to know your colleagues
Don't be afraid to say hello and introduce yourself to your colleagues. It could go something like this: "Hello, my name is X and I am here for work experience. What is your name?" People in the UK and Ireland are generally polite and welcoming and enjoy a chat over tea or lunch. Getting to know your colleagues is a great way to break the ice and feel more comfortable and confident at work.
10. Keep an open mind
Remember that your work placement might not meet your expectations. But don't panic. Instead try to keep an open mind. This is just your first day. With time, you will feel more accustomed and familiar with the way things are organised. 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 are new to a way of working or communicating doesn't mean it is less valid or effective. Most importantly, don't leave your placement just because it is not what you expected. Give it a few more days. At the end of your second or third day you will have a mentoring session at ADC College where you are free to voice your concerns in a friendly setting. We are always here to help if have any questions.
Most students who visit us will experience no conflicts or disagreements during the first day of their placement. The conflicts that do occur usually arise from misunderstandings or culture clashes and can be easily solved. The first thing you should do if a problem occurs is speak to your supervisor directly and try to find a solution. If the problem should persist, you can always contact ADC College and speak to your Country Manager. We have routines in place to ensure issues are swiftly investigated, analysed and dealt with.
12. How to learn from the day
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. So don't worry if you felt like you didn't live up to your full potential. Just sit back and have a think about what went well and what could have gone better. Maybe you felt too shy to ask your colleagues for help with a specific task? No worries, there is always a next day. Make a plan of how you will go about it and you will find that asking for help is actually the simplest thing in the world. As long as you are willing to learn, you will be fine.
Well done and good luck!
Would you like to participate in our Internship Programme in London or Dublin? 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 email@example.com.