Five tips for a successful student work placement

By: Maddy Murphy

Being a co-op student can be a bit nerve-wracking at first. You’re in a new space, you find everyone extremely smart and learning the ropes of the job can be challenging. I started my high school work placement at The PR Hive in March. Having been here for a few months, I thought I’d share five tips from my experience to help those of you who are nervous about your first co-op placement.

1.     Learn from your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes every now and then – but that’s not always a bad thing. Mistakes can play a major role in your growth, especially at this stage. During my time here at The PR Hive, I’ve made some mistakes which gave me a better appreciation of learning through trial and error. My coworkers provided feedback, which helped me gain insight I may not have otherwise received.

2.     Ask questions

It may seem scary at first, but asking for help when you don’t understand can be really beneficial. Your coworkers know that you’re new to this. The guidance you receive will motivate you to learn more, allowing you to relax a little and enjoy the experience. Next time you’re hesitant to ask questions, keep in mind that it’s better than doing something completely wrong and having your coworkers redo it – especially when their deadlines are tight. Trust me, your coworkers will appreciate it.

3.     Be engaged

Listening and having an understanding of what’s going on in the company is very important. One tip is to pay attention to what everyone is working on during meetings. You never know when you might be asked to help with a project. On that note, listening and taking notes when needed will prevent you from missing steps. Though asking questions is always good, taking the right notes might save time and prevent questions that may have already been covered.

Don’t forget to speak out when you have a great idea – your ideas may be helpful to your coworkers. This also shows enthusiasm – something employers look for in their employees.

4.     Take control of your experience

There’s a reason you chose this internship. Maybe you’ve always had a passion for this type of work, or you know someone who loves working in the industry.

Whatever that reason may be, take charge of the experience and ask everything you’ve always wanted to know. Maybe you want to learn how to create social media posts for an organization, for example. This is the time to speak up and ask for experiences that align with your interests.

5.     Last but not least, establish good relationships

Establishing good relationships with your coworkers and employers is a fun way to break up the work day. While it’s easy to get caught up in your work, everyone can appreciate the occasional break to chat. But keep in mind that while socializing at work is fine, some people may find it distracting – so play it by ear.

Having good relationships with your coworkers will also make working with them easier because you’ll be more comfortable around them.

Feeling ready to start your co-op placement yet?

While it’s difficult to feel 100 per cent ready for your first student placement, you can prepare by understanding that:

  • Making mistakes can help you grow
  • Asking questions will benefit your experience
  • Being engaged promotes creativity
  • Taking control shows enthusiasm
  • Establishing relationships benefits everyone

And take it from me – if you do a good enough job, they might even let you write the company’s first blog post.