Experiences of work

Experiences of work

Paddy's experience

Internship or Work experience? Internship

I chose to do a 12 month industrial placement because I wanted to make my CV a bit different I guess. I figured that with 12 months I would be able to get a job where I could get some really valuable experience and skills, plus be able to network and earn some money for a change.

I applied to several companies directly. Applications for industrial placements typically open around September and I wanted to apply early so as to have a better chance of getting one (and to get it finalised before my exam period).

For IBM, first you apply by sending in your CV in their own special CV format (details on their website). After a week or two they contacted me via email to tell me that I had progressed to the next stage, which meant I had to complete an online aptitude test called the IPATO. It had 3 different sections, and lasted about 20 minutes. After I completed that it was about a month and a half before I was contacted to be told that I was successful and had progressed to the next round which involved an assessment centre in their Portsmouth office. The assessment centre consisted of 2 group exercises (done with the other 5 interveiwees), one personal interview (an interview to find out more about yourself) and one business interview (to find out your competencies). It was all very friendly, and you're told that it's not a competition between the other interviewees (which seems to be true as I know that at least 2 of the 5 interviewees were made offers). After this I was called on the phone the next day and told I had been successful, and would now be given a business matching interview which was to find a suitable role for me. I was then contacted to arrange a face-to-face interview at their Southbank (Waterloo) office for a role within the consulting (GBS) division at IBM; the interview was less pressured than the business interview at the assessment, and 3 days later I was made the final offer.

Currently I have been on the job for 3 weeks, and so far it is going really well. Everyone (managers, grads, other interns etc) has been really friendly, and I've made a lot of new friends. The past week has seen me very busy organising an event for public sector consultants held in an IBM office near Heathrow, which was really enjoyable for me as I got to meet a lot of new people and also feel like I've actually contributed something positive. I am about to start the handover process from the previous intern who did my role before me which will see me working on a client site in Essex for three months, after which I will be working on a private sector project as yet to be confirmed.

My advice to those considering an internship is to APPLY NOW. The jobs fill up fast and for the most part it's first come first served. So many people apply in April/May and wonder why they don't have many/any offers. Apply AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.

katekatekate7's experience

Age: 18

Internship or work experience? I did a weeks work experience in France in a fashion shop.

Where did you work and what did you do? The shop was called 'New Man', they're all over France and the particular one I was based at was in Lille. My main duties were to fold clothes, keep the shop front looking nice and immaculate and sorting out the new stock in the basement when it arrived

How did you find out about it? Through school. We has leaflets delivered from a company called 'Halsbury Travel' who specialise in work experience abroad, so I applied

What did you enjoy about it? I enjoyed practising my French skills. As I was doing French A level, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help me improve my speaking and listening skills, and it really did, so I enjoyed this aspect of it.

What did you not enjoy so much? There wasn't a lot of customers that visited the shop, most of the time it was pretty dead, so during these times we'd just stand about, doing nothing, which got a bit boring after a while.

Any tips/advice? If you get the opportunity, just go for it, even if you're a bit hesitant. I was reluctant to go to a foreign country and work in a totally strange environment, but in the end I was very glad I decided to go!

Tabers' Experience

Age: 17

Internship or work experience? Work experience and Voluntary work

Where did/do you work and what did/do you do? For my work experience I went to a local reservoir and worked with the ranger doing conservation work and also work that they have to do like first aid box checks and looking at health and safety forms. I helped to build a footpath, made some bird boxes, made disabled car parking signs, did playground check, chased ducks ( That was fun)

For my volunteering I've done various things with various groups.I helped to build a boardwalk, did some hedge trimming with one and then with my local Wildlife Trust Youth Group I've helped to build a footpath, cut down hawthorn trees (even in terrible weather which if we had not been on a residential would have been cancelled) and then various activities.

How did you find out about it? Work experience I got when my Mum put down lots of local places that she thought might do anything conservationy and then school got in touch with them and voila. Wildife Trust Youth Group I found out about because one of the rangers on work experience took me down the road to the local Wildlife Trust person who got me in touch with the person that does the Youth Groups. At that point there wasnt a youth group where I lived but every now and again there were events like the residential. Since then a youth group has been set up. The other volunteering I found out about from the local newspaper. Oh and then I'm going on a working holiday with the national trust where I am volunteering to help build a footpath for the weekend so that should be fun. I found out about that from the National Trust website.

What do you enjoy about it? Just being outside and helping the environment. Even in horrible weather it is fun with the people you are with. You can have such a laugh.

What do you not enjoy so much? If its bad weather then it can make it a bit of a downside. When you know absolutly no one but thats only for about 5 mins and then you fit in fine. On work experience there were a group of lads from a local school (probably trouble makers ) who were meant to be doing work like I was doing for the day. They looked at me as I am girl and were all like oh you're a girl. They then went on to play on the closed off playground and did no work while I did their work and mine only for them to say "You're alright for a girl" I hate people that think because I am a girl that I cant do it. Any tips/advice?Make sure you come dressed to do the work and you mustn't care about getting muddly, messy, scratches, stung or anything else that comes with working outdoors. Be nice and ignore any one who thinks you can't do it because you're a girl!

Fuzzed_Out's experience

Age: 18 (17 when I did this)

Voluntary work/work experience: 2 Weeks at Atkins Bennett Rotherham

Where did you work and what did you do: It's an engineering design firm so they gave me a desk and a pc and told me to start converting AutoCAD drawings into STAAD.Pro and then load testing them for snow, wind and so on. I got help whenever I asked for it because I had never done anything like it before but I tried not to be a burden.

How did you find out about it? Family member works there

What did you enjoy about it? I really enjoyed the software and what I was doing and it was made more enjoyable by the fact that I wasn't treated like a coffee boy. I was made to feel like a colleague and it was satisfying knowing that they were real designs with a deadline, the guy next to me (just done his first year MEng at Warwick) was working on a different part of the same project which made me feel part of the team. Towards the end of my time there I had a fresh Graduate ask me to copy up plans on STAAD.Pro which he hadn't used before and to be trusted to do this was a great confidence boost. What do you not enjoy so much: I had to travel about 2 hours from where I was staying to the office which made the days long (7am leave and got home at 7:30) but other than this nothing, and it was easily bearable with a book.

Any tips/advice: I was lucky enough to have a fast way in to what I consider a desirable work place so my advice can only be if you have an opportunity don't turn it down. Also in my case I went in with the right attitude (for once) but don't go in with attitude of it being unpaid so it doesn't matter how you conduct yourself, other people will probably be relying on you and it's their necks on the line.

Jez RR's experience

Age: I was 26 at the time, doing an HND in Media

Internship or work experience? Work Experience for 2 months

Where did/ you work and what did you do? Researcher on a wildlife documentary for the Discovery Channel

How did you find out about it? Through college

What dis you enjoy about it? Just about everything. I needed a work experience placement as part of the HND and applied for the position of researcher with a local TV company. Never had any interest in TV before, but they were making a documentary about lions in Southern Africa, where I grew up. I had visited many of the national parks where they would be filming, so I put together briefing packs on local conditions, worked out itineraries for film crews, got permits from various ministries etc. I also edited transcripts of the narration, wrote descriptions for the blurb, interviewed assorted lion experts around the world and spent time in the editing suite learning Avid.

What do you not enjoy so much? Editing transcripts isn't as much fun as it sounds. Main regret was having to leave after 8 weeks to go back to college, and not being able to accompany the crew on the flight to Africa.

Any tips/advice? Treat it like a proper job. Even if you are on the lowest rung of the ladder as an intern, don't be afraid to speak up and tell them what you can do. Get a good reference out of it.


Age: 18, (17 during the work experience period)

Internship or work experience? Work experience

Where did you work and what did you do? An accounting firm in my city for one week. I didn't really have an official role but I did a lot of audit work and helped out in various ways as much as I could.

How did you find out about it? I wanted to apply for work experience at an Accounting firm which would be useful for myself (particularly since I was applying to university) and a friend of my mother's friend had suggested someone she knew. I called them up and they were very happy to take me on for some work experience which I was extremely grateful for especially as they had never offered work experience to people before.

What did you enjoy about it? Although it was a small firm and therefore a small environment, I really enjoyed my time there as I met a great group of friendly and lovely people. They would always be there to help me when I had a problem and even offered me advice in terms of my education and my future career path. I gained invaluable work experience which could be useful for myself and my future career. Furthermore, since I was studying Accounting at A Level at the time, working at an accounting firm had helped me increase my knowledge and understanding in the area and even helped with my studies.

On my last day, the staff also gave me a small sum of money as a sort of leaving present which was very nice of them

What did you not enjoy so much? As it was a small firm, the office would often get quiet at times especially when others had left for meetings etc. Clients would also come in and out which I felt uncomfortable with as I felt I was getting in their way but that might have just been me

Any tips/advice? Definitely take up work experience if you have the chance or try and seek some. It's invaluable and you won't regret it.