Like most workplace environments, having work experience, even if it may be for as little as one week, must be prepared to challenge you to face some of the more testing facets of what it is like to be in work. The wage is earned for a very good reason, and having tasks during a working day which push your abilities allows people to discover your limitations and areas which can be evaluated for improvement.
Most of us, before moving into employment, have a good idea of what it is like to work within a deadline. For those under 16, it may be an unexpected test in class or yearly SATs which determine our level of ability, but all young people will have an understanding of what it can be like to complete a task with all questions answered, in the given time frame. However, the expectations in employment begin to intensify some of those requirements and, unlike school, the consequences of not finishing on an allocated deadline or producing work deemed low quality can put in jeopardy the very point of employment itself and you may face immediate dismissal. In work experience too, where the dynamics of voluntary work differ with the technicalities of paid employment, there will often be times in which employers will put their expectations on you to complete meaningful activities which can have a wider impact on the organisation itself.
While this may seem daunting, which it will do from the outset of an early work experience placement, gaining the trust of senior colleagues and other members of staff around you can only be achieved if you can demonstrate that you are effectively work ready. From my own experience, where I have worked in PR and Communications positions in charities, you can have more than one task to complete during the day and it becomes a case of prioritising in respect of:
- The length and complexity of the task.
- Urgency – is it something which has been asked for immediate attention by your manager?
Whether it had been writing press releases or researching news stories for the staff bulletin, these were separate activities which would need focus at different points in the day, but would ultimately need to be finished before leaving the office. In some cases, it may help to write a list or allocate yourself times in which to move on between tasks. See which methods work for you and do not lead to stalling or prioritising much simpler activities, perhaps scrolling on the corporate Twitter account, at the cost of causing delays and the frustration of your manger.
As it has already been stated, work experience is about getting the most out of what skills you need to gain for the workplace later and finding what works in terms of the varied jobs market. If you are given tasks which are in excess of the limit of a working day or are not suitable for your abilities, let the employer know. But never be too resistant to that bit of pressure to push yourself forward!