3 opportunities you NEED to take whilst out on Placement

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetPhotograph by Veri Ivanova (via Unsplash)

I might have mentioned via twitter on Wednesday that there would hands down be a post up that day – didn’t quite happen did it!! However that doesn’t dampen or dismiss this post, just highlights the fact I haven’t had time to plan & prep this blog!

You might have caught the documentary on Channel 4 on Tuesday evening called ‘My Big Fat Asian Wedding‘ – which was following a family run Asian catering and event management company called Payal Events UK. If you have been a long time reader of this blog, or have looked through my placement series, then you might already know that Payal is the company I worked for whilst out on my placement year.

From June 2012 to June 2013 I worked as the Events Administrator in the London office – organising and running Asian weddings in the South of England – all of which is documented on this blog!

It was a very surreal experience watching the show because, minus a few new faces, it’s the same team, same venues and the same AMAZING FOOD! Whilst it has now been over 2 years since I left Payal, the documentary reminded me just how much I learnt and grew in the space of 12 months.

Weirdly enough I also came across my placement year assignment the other day, a combination of diary entries and employee review meetings documenting what I did (and how well I did) over the 12 months.

Because the last post was about Graduate life, I thought these two things were pointing out that it was about time I wrote a post for all you Event Students (or any Student) who is about to head out on placement! Don’t worry this isn’t another post on things I learnt, because there is only so far I can pretend my expertise run, but rather 3 opportunities you should take on, or look for whilst working.

As a big advocate for placement years and work experience, it is unsurprising that I am 100% for taking a year out of Uni to get real hands on experience! BUT I want to stress that I do not support placements that don’t pay or offer any type of travel or living reimbursement. Whilst volunteer work is a fantastic way to gain experience for a couple of weeks, working anything longer than a month for an organisation that makes money BUT doesn’t pay you is not worth your time – no matter how great that experience is sold to be!

A proper placement experience is a chance for you to gain a large amount of responsibility, but in an environment that supports and teaches along the way. They are real jobs, where you are held accountable when things go wrong and credited for hard work, the company is getting an employee & that means you should be treated like one – with a pay check!

Now after that quick (slightly off topic) aspect, I know that some of you will be working for large organisation, with a couple of hundred employees, and others for small teams. This post is tailored to you both, but obviously not all the three opportunities might be available for all of you – it is one of the reasons I still highly recommend still doing work experience on either side of your placement & in final year!

Work in or shadow the different departments* – rotate round and learn what each job role actually entails. Whilst you might think you know exactly what you want to do, be it event operations or marketing, seeing what other teams do by shadowing or working with the account directors, sales, production, finance team is an incredible opportunity. You might suddenly find undiscovered talents or be able to say with absolute certainty that there are areas you do not want to work in.

*If working in a small company then ask to help out with those elements – or even just ask questions and gain an insight into the different ways people work!

Work overtime & on extra events – similar to the point above, this is 12 months where you are able to really explore all the different things you could do. If you are asked to stay an extra hour to submit a pitch or work on an event that is short-staffed then do it! You get to see the event from many different angles, gaining insight and knowledge of what does and doesn’t work!

Go to networking events – there are many industry networking events held around the UK. Go along and meet people, networking is not just about gaining connections that will only help you now. Networking is just an opportunity to meet like-minded people & you never know where that one connection could take you or help with in the future. Networking events are a lot easier when you work for a company than just being a student, mainly because you have a lot more to talk about!!

It is important to not turn down opportunities because you don’t feel ready or ‘have the right skills’ – that is the whole point of taking on the placement year, to challenge yourself in an environment that is able to give you a ton of support! Don’t worry that you won’t be good enough, the company you work for will not forget that you are still a student & they will not offer opportunities unless they think you can handle it!

So for all you Students who are about to start your placement year – GOOD LUCK! If you are thinking of writing about your own experience – which I highly recommend – then please comment with a link because I would LOVE (love) to read about it!

If you are just finishing your placement then what opportunities do you think people need to take?

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I need to say a MASSIVE thank you to all of you guys, because on Friday (17th April) I attended the 2015 UK Blog Awards. The awards that last year we won Best Individual Events Blog & somehow I’m a Damn Student, What Do I Know? walked away with High Commended for the Events Category!

When I ran The Student Sessions it surprised me that many of the students in attendance had read this blog & it still surprises me when things like Friday happen! It might sound like a blogger cliché, but I write this blog & the posts (when I remember) from my bed or on the train to work, I often forget that real people like you read this!

What I am trying to say is I am always in awe that you take the time to read this blog – even if this is your first time here – because I know you could instead be watching a Netflix marathon, or drinking Gin, or even writing that essay that’s due in this week! So thank you for your time!!

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