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What makes a good work placement?

February 14, 2012

Employers offering work experience usually want to make the placement as beneficial as possible for the student.  So we want the student to come away from the placement having learnt something about business and the world of work, or having developed some important workplace ‘soft’ skills ie learning how to get along with other people.

In our experience there are some simple things you can do to achieve that:

Be Friendly and Supportive

You’d be amazed how nervous most students are about going on their placement.  Bear this in mind and try and put them at ease.  Introduce them to other people in the workplace and assign them a ‘buddy’.  During the first week you will probably need to draw them out and encourage them to talk, but as they gain confidence you usually see a change during the second week.  That is one way the placement can help them, by giving them more confidence.

Make it Interesting

Not many of us have the luxury of jobs that are very interesting in themselves, but you can make the work placement interesting  in a number of ways:

  • give the student a variety of tasks
  • where possible let them spend some time in different departments or with different people so that they get an overview of the business
  • help them to see how the task they are doing contributes to the overall success of the business
  • have something prepared for them to do when work is quiet eg ask them to review your company website or marketing materials, carry out research on your competitors or work on a presentation to tell you about what they’ve learned at the end of their work experience

You’ll be surprised how much they can learn and grow in those two weeks.  Yes it takes time and effort but a good work placement can really make a difference.


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