Your Career, Your Choices

How to make your college placement work

Q: I’m about to start a college work placement with a leading company in my sector – marketing. It’s an eight-week thing during and I really want to make an impression. Any thoughts? (DR, email ).

A: First off, that’s the right attitude. Even if it never comes to anything within the company, the benefits of being seen as someone with real ability and a good attitude are enormous, writes Liam Horan, CAREER COACH, Sli Nua Careers.

Bring ideas in the door. Look at their current client list and the services they offer. Talk to other people about the company.

Ideas might include webinars, imaginative use of Facebook Live, social media campaigns, photo possibilities – I am speaking in a vacuum here, given that I do not know the name of your company, but you get my drift.

The reality of the marketing sector nowadays is that it is an endless world of possibilities. There is always a new platform, a new idea, a new approach to be teased out.

If you present ideas, they will be impressed. They will appreciate the fact that you did not just turn up with, as the phrase goes, ‘one hand as long as the other”.

From day one, you need to show your freshness, enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Which brings me to my next point: be willing to learn.

Experienced people like to feel that newcomers listen to them. They not may always be right, but they have been around the course before. They have lots to teach you: be a keen student.

By listening to them, you show that you want to learn from their knowledge, you will bring the best out of them – and, all going well, you may quickly move to a collaborative / symbiotic relationship.

Roll up the sleeves. While you may not be getting paid, you must be willing to work. Things move fast in the workplace nowadays: a marketing company is likely to be building up to numerous launches and events, and you should make your name by being ready and willing to do your bit.

That may mean turning up in the evenings for launches – if you are into marketing, you must be able to do this, and now is the time to show that you are. If you want to do 9-5, maybe you’re in the wrong career.

It may mean carrying boxes upstairs – I have seen senior executives do the most menial of tasks in the build-up to an event, without a word of complaint.

Know what the company is trying to achieve. Establish the goals of launches or campaigns, or anything else you are involved in, and focus on helping the company to reach them.

Don’t be just someone they throw a task to every now and then to keep you occupied: instead, aim to become an integral member of teams striving for specific outcomes.

All the usual other stuff then – turn up on time, dress well, respond to emails you should respond to, absolutely don’t swing imaginary golf clubs when talking to people, and be grateful when people give you the value of their time and expertise.

When the placement is over, ask for a written reference and, furthermore, ask a senior person if they would be happy to take a phone call from a potential employer down the line. Best of luck.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport ), Limerick, Sligo, Enniscrone and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway

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