Grab a cup of tea and some biscuits and take a seat as I tell you about my placement year and all the wisdom I gained. I worked as an Alumni Relations Assistant here at Aston University. My role involved focusing on 2 main areas: data quality and student and young Alumni engagement. In a nutshell, I worked on maintaining and building relationships with those who have already graduated from Aston and those who were close to graduating.
Placement was a great experience overall. As a student, the 9-5 work lifestyle does hit you at first, but then you get used to it and those early mornings are no longer terrifying. Here are some tips for you to help you adjust from student life to work life.
#1 ENLIGHTEN ME WITH YOUR WISDOM
Honestly, working in a full-time job has made me realise that it is up to you to get the most out of every opportunity. What I mean by this is, use your initiative and ask questions! LOTS AND LOTS OF QUESTIONS. To me, my placement was not only a learning opportunity but also a chance to think about any particular areas I may want to explore after graduating and what better way to do this than to communicate with the different people in my department and ask them about their roles.
I have learnt that employers love when you take an interest in their career and they are willing to sit down with you and talk about what they enjoy doing. Through asking questions and arranging meetings, I have a rough idea of some of the career journeys I would like to embark upon and also some areas I completely want to avoid (note to self: not everything is for you).
#2 CLEAR SPACE, CLEAR MIND
It is fair to say that I am quite the organiser as established through my numerous trips to IKEA. I mean, how could you resist all those drawer organisers, shoe hangers and quilted storage baskets?
When I started my placement, one of the first things I did was organise my desk (do not judge me).
I get an immense amount of joy from sorting and organising and my eyes light up when I see an opportunity to ‘neaten things up’
A clean space allows me to remain focused and brings peace to my mind. Knowing where everything is giving me assurance and enables me to increase my productivity as I am not spending ages looking for files or trying to find a stapler
I understand organisation is not for everyone and some people feel that a bit of clutter helps their creative juices flow. Personally, in a professional work environment, I feel that being organised helps you to stay on track and also gives the employer a good impression.
Here is a picture of my work desk to give you some inspo ⇓⇓
#3 DRESS TO IMPRESS, NOT TO CAUSE DISTRESS
As someone who has never worked in an office environment before, I was actually pretty confused about what to wear.
My personal style is quite diverse but as long as I am comfy and casual then life is good. One thing I know for sure is…I absolutely hate blazers and will do whatever it takes to look smart without incorporating any sort of blazer into my outfit.
My other dress-code related fear drowned upon me when I flipped over the tag in the ‘smart section’ of a high street store. Why are smart clothes so expensive?
To solve this issue I took inspiration from my colleagues and secretly observed their attire to see what would be expected of me in a formal setting (not creepy at all).
I soon realised that I could look and feel smart while staying on a student-friendly budget. My tip is to incorporate basic items into your wardrobe such as black trousers, black shoes and a simple white shirt. You could literally wear at least two of these items for the whole week and no-one would notice.
#4 EYE ON THE TIME
Starting a 9-5 job has made me realise how important it is to balance my time. At first I struggled with this and felt completely shattered when I got home from work… probably because I was still in holiday mode and watching ‘Friends’ till 11pm the previous night, TUT-TUT.
But soon I realised that in order to take care of my health and make the best out of my placement AND complete my placement project, I needed a schedule. Not only did I make a ‘TV shows schedule’ but I also created a ‘placement assignment schedule’ and a bedtime. Yes… at the age of 20 I gave myself a bedtime *shakes head*. My schedules allowed me to keep a healthy balance between work and ‘me time’ and I was much happier and less stressed out about meeting deadlines.
My placement has expanded my time-management skills in other areas too, I feel that I am managing my work load well in final year by prioritising tasks and trying to complete tasks a few days before the deadline just in case I need to make amendments.
Time-management is a must in any workplace and if you do it well your Netflix days will be sure to continue…
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and have found a few tips to help you on your placement!