As I come to the end of my 9 week placement at The Dairy, I think it’s a great opportunity to look back on the things I have learned and achieved and try to offer some useful tips and advice to any future interns. Although I have been lucky enough to spend a good few months working with the team, it is always really important to remember that no matter how long you are here, you need to try and get as much out of the experience as possible.
Above all of the tips I am going to share with you, there is one point which stands out – and that is to be proactive and get involved. Entering a completely new environment is always going to be hard as it takes a bit of time to learn the basics, get to know the team and get to grips with the work you will be doing. The first few days can be light on work as the team learns how fast you complete tasks and to what standard, but by no means should you worry about not having a lot to do. These quiet spells are the perfect opportunity for you to ask if there’s anything you can help with, or if you can sit in on a meeting – it might lead to a new project or even just learning something new! I have learnt so much during my time at The Dairy – especially things that have then coincidentally come up in conversations outside of work. They’re only small things but it makes you feel educated and more involved in a conversation when you can actually understand and name-drop the jargon.
My 5 top tips are as follows…
Be proactive –
As I’ve explained previously, this is the most important piece of advice, in my opinion, to really get the most out of your internship. This includes small jobs like making tea and coffee for the team, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s about immersing yourself in the day-to-day life of the role, which could range from website audits to client site visits (a day looking around beautiful show homes certainly made me want to buy and decorate my own home – a slightly unrealistic idea at the moment, but from it, I gained inspiration and insight I would never usually gain sat in a lecture theatre). So, ask questions and say ‘yes’ as you never know where it might lead!
Start as you mean to go on –
As soon as I knew there was an opportunity to do a placement in my second year, I knew straight away that I wanted to do one – but I was aware that it needed to be somewhere that I could commute to from my student house. I began my search for a placement in September, ahead of term starting and the workload increasing. Fortunately I found The Dairy, arranged an interview by the end of Freshers Week and a week later, I had secured my place.
Not only do these intern opportunities fill up quickly, but you make a better impression by being organised and reaching out to companies in advance rather than leaving it until the last minute and it seems like the agency is your last resort because you couldn’t find anything else.
Do your research –
It’s really important to turn up on your first day with a solid background of research about the company you’re working for and its clients. It all links to being organised and really showing that you want to be there. It may be that you want to arrange a short meeting a week or two before you start, just to familiarise yourself with the office, how to get there (bus routes, parking etc.) and ask any final questions (what to wear, working hours, or mention any prearranged plans that will have to be factored into the calendar).
Make an effort to get to know the team –
This seems obvious, but you’re going to be working with these people for a prolonged period of time – so take an interest in what everyone is doing, how they like to spend their free time and even which tv series they’re into at the moment! You never know the connections you will make or the bonds that will form! I’d never have thought I’d work with someone who used to do my course or meet someone I’m so similar to we literally could be sisters. I’ve felt so welcomed into The Dairy family, I’m definitely going to miss it!
Finally, be ‘Open and Honest’ –
The Dairy prides itself on being ‘Always Open. Always Honest.’ and this approach is always the best way to present yourself and earn the respect of your colleagues. Being in my second year, I have extracurricular commitments which I couldn’t drop going onto placement. It’s great being busy and having lots of commitments, but it is important to tell your employer that you do have these other things to do and may need to leave early one day or arrive a little bit late. As long as you’re honest about it and you give enough warning and reminders, there is absolutely no reason why this should have a detrimental effect on your placement experience.
So those are my top 5 tips for a new intern at The Dairy, or at any placement. Essentially it’s about making the most of your time to ensure you get the most out of the experience. You never know where these connections could lead – from future job prospects, to a great reference or just some amazing friends; it’s all worth it and definitely reason enough to say ‘yes’ to a placement.