Some Top Tips to Get the Most out of Your Work Experience / Internship and a Success Story to Match..

Some Top Tips to Get the Most out of Your Work Experience / Internship and a Success Story to Match..

James Hiluk 07 Sep 2017

As a former Head of Campus Recruiting I experienced first-hand the hard work and dedication students put themselves through at a tier 1 Investment Bank.

Since returning to Agency Recruiting I have maintained an interest in the wellbeing and career prospects of our next generation.

Thousands participate in work experience or internships (paid or unpaid) every year to gain a sense of what it is really like to work day to day in a certain industry or profession.  

It can be daunting experience, especially if it is in a profession which they really want to succeed and at an employer from which they really want to receive a job offer.

To make the most of this opportunity I have just highlighted a few basic tips 

Getting started and getting in

Securing work experience in the first place can be complex and overwhelming, with many employers having different rules as to what level of education or experience you may need or be limited by the number of people they can accommodate.

Do your research and discover the best contact to send your resume and brief cover letter to.
Don’t lose your motivation if you are turned down or don't receive a reply.

Research is vital as it easily demonstrates your level of motivation and can be assessed in your cover letter and definitely at interview…What do you know about the company, people, why do you want to gain work experience here? 

In Japan at least you may also have the benefit of working with various agencies that help arrange work experience/internships. 
For smaller companies in the local area, you might be able to drop in and speak to them but for larger companies will need to do your research and find the right phone number or e-mail address. 

I would also advise setting up a professional presence online such as LinkedIn, as many recruiters will want to check out applicants they've spoken to about work experience.

It also goes without saying to make sure your social media accounts do show anything publically embarrassing. 
Be advised prospective employees are increasingly interested in your online profile.. 

First impressions do count

The first day of work experience, or any new job, can make you feel like your first day at school - but relax and make a good first impression. Try to start with some confidence.

Work experience candidates are on show from the moment they arrive, so it is a good idea to try not look like you have signed up to something scary and painful!!

It may sound simple, but make sure you're on time, dress for the occasion and know where you're going.
Make sure you have researched the employer and potential colleagues (If they have an online profile, or review what you learned about people during your interviews). Once again good preparation and knowledge will help your confidence. 

Can you ask in advance what your responsibilities may be? This will help you prepare. 
Before you start any actual work, the first thing you'll be doing is 'meeting and greeting' – and first impressions are extremely important.

It helps to remember people’s names when you repeat it out-loud during your many handshakes and introductions. You may also wish to sketch out a simple org chart in your note book, when you get a spare moment (if your employer doesn’t have a hand-out for you).

Everyone you meet will be making initial judgments about you – and often on the basis of a few minutes spent together. Sounds intimidating but it isn’t really… It happens naturally every day when we meet new people – when we go to a party, for example, or out for dinner with friends of friends. 

Don't put yourself under too much pressure. But do be conscious of the impression you'll be making on others.'

How can you be helpful?

If you want to be helpful to your employer then the first question to ask yourself is: 'Why am I here?'

You should know what you want to get out of work experience – but you must also make sure you understand what your employer wants to get out of you.

Too many people on work experience have a poorly defined vision of their role and this directly impacts on their ability to perform to the best of their ability.

It is also vital for you to understand where you and your role fit into the bigger picture. 

What exactly is your purpose within your team, within your department and even within the organization as a whole?

Don't content yourself with just understanding your own role, ensure you understand its context and are able to see it in the perspective of the bigger picture.

Also do try to fit into the team confidently, without being a distraction. A gesture of tea, coffee, biscuits or lunch can be a good way of fitting in when appropriate. 

Make sure you ask sensible questions and seek help when needed. Be proactive and always ask if there is anything you can do to help, especially if you sitting around with nothing to do…

How to impress your manager

Remember that the manager doesn't want problems – he/she wants solutions. 

Managers spent too much time in dealing with problems.

Many people think that, if there's a problem, then it's the manager’s job to deal with it. It may be their ultimate responsibility to deal with it – but it's a shared responsibility.

If you're capable of identifying the problem then you must be capable of identifying possible solutions, even if you are 'just' on work experience.

Don't just present a problem to your manager and expect them to deal with it. Help them to deal with it. If you can, go to them with possible solutions.

Before approaching your boss with a problem ask yourself whether it really requires their attention.

However, don't take on anything that you do not feel capable of dealing with - the last thing you want to do is make things worse and create more work for others further down the line.

Also, be proactive and don't be afraid to ask colleagues for help. You could also think about listing a few ideas considered while working and running them past the Manager at the end of the work experience - they may just like some of them.

And it goes without saying - be punctual, polite and fit into the team. These simple steps are basic requirements any manager is looking for and you'd be surprised how many workers let these standards slip. 

How to can you secure a job at the end?

So, if you want a job with your internship employer, why exactly do you deserve a job?

You may need to let them know your interest and you're going to need to do so persuasively.

The main tone of your pitch should be to communicate to your employer how you have developed in ways which warrant a permanent position.

Try not to undersell yourself and approach with a positive mindset and good examples to demonstrate what you achieved and how you did it. What initiatives have you shown? 

Start with an overview of your time with the organization and outline succinctly the progress you have made in that time.

As a general rule, make it easy for the organization to hire you. Make it into a logical, sensible and beneficial decision for them.

Regardless of the outcome, it is worthwhile asking for feedback and keeping contact details for future references and opportunities. 

For one of our own 2017 Interns the experience went beyond expectations and led to her securing her first full time position on Graduation. 

Whilst at Morgan McKinley we specialize in more Senior to Management level assignments it was fortunate for one of our 2017 interns that we also maintain excellent relationships with a few firms open minded to hiring young talent with high potential. 

In her own words: 
Intern Experience

Interning at Morgan McKinley was a lifetime experience I will value forever. The initial expectation any junior individual would have about a recruitment internship was completely fulfilled. Having the opportunity to work with six different teams across different fields was an experience to really make myself understand where I find my personal fit to a business field and corporate culture. I was able to absorb a vast amount of corporate knowledge and business conversation in a hands-on way.

The internship at Morgan McKinley did not stop after ending the work at the office; it has led to wonderful opportunities of knowing other companies in different management fields. I have definitely have gone ‘Beyond’.

To future individuals who seek to intern at a recruitment company, never forget to be proactive and communicative and always positive with any task at hand. Recruitment is a people-oriented business and with these three factors could lead to future success of finalizing a full-time position as like myself. I would only have known I had a personal fit with HR only after experiencing and working with six different teams and gaining the corresponding knowledge.

I could not have been able to experience this memorable internship without their tremendous help and support. The welcoming and family corporate culture is one I genuinely experienced at Morgan McKinley and the correspondence will be there forever.

Finally, I sincerely thank all the employees at Morgan McKinley, Tokyo for the valuable experience during my 2 months and a special thanks to James Hiluk for introducing my full-time position.

The benefits of gaining work experience at an agency such as Morgan McKinley can be many. 

As a Professional Corporate Company we can offer a diverse and dynamic career within our organization and who knows…maybe elsewhere! 


James Hiluk's picture
Client Services Manager | HR Recruitment