IT services firm FDM is recruiting 1,000 graduates to its Academy Programme this year and will fully fund 100 of the best for an MSc. in Applied Computer Science. The course will focus on software development and will features several high-profile commercial placements.
Remuneration for the selected FDM interns is generous, but the advice for graduates on any placement would be the same, regardless of whether it’s paid or unpaid. CWJobs asked its panel of employers and interns for their tips on making the most of a placement.
1. Research your company
Do this before you start your placement. You don’t want to be caught standing in the lifts with the CEO without knowing it’s the CEO! Know who you are reporting to on your first day, so you can confidently get set up without waiting around aimlessly or needing people to run around after you.
Mark Evans, graduate with the FDM Academy
2. Test your career choices
Work experience gives you the chance to test if a preferred career choice is for you. If you find that it’s not, you’ll have made an important step on the path to a great career. Placements give you the chance to test a number of career options without the hassle of getting into and out of a contract.
3. Gain commercial skills
Strong commercial awareness is a key competency for all candidates applying for graduate schemes. During your placement or work experience, you will gain exposure to contemporary issues affecting your industry and company through numerous channels. Try reading relevant industry newspapers and magazines, and make sure you attend meetings to which you’re invited.
4. Improve soft skills
Sound technical skills are vital, but your placement can help you develop soft skills too. If training is on offer, maybe report writing or time management, do it. Ask to join projects, especially those including non IT professionals.
Laura Hooke, careers consultant, City University London.
5. Work with a variety of people
As well as improving your ability to work effectively in a wider team, work experience provides you with the chance to learn from others who have years of experience within an organisation. If you take part in a structured placement, you may get the chance to work in a number of departments broadening your knowledge of the different roles that people take on and the organisation as a whole.
6. Network and get a foot in the door
During a work experience placement you’ll learn how to network, which may open up future opportunities. Don’t forget, the employer could be using this time to consider you as a potential hire after you finish your studies. Your work experience will also give you something to talk about at subsequent interviews and perhaps confirm why you want to pursue a particular career.
7. Ask for feedback...
...From your employer and the people you work with - there may be room for improvement. An internship is above all a place to learn so tale constructive criticism in the right spirit. Plus, successes and achievements are what you need to put on your CV.
8. National Council for Work Experience (NCWE)
Keep a diary - this will help you to add your achievements to your IT CV and will show you how far you've come. Keep a note of challenges you overcome - this demonstrates initiative as well as problem solving skills and is something you can take to your next employer.
National Council for Work Experience (NCWE)
9. Be a team worker
Team working is prized in all IT jobs, sometimes above the contribution of the maverick guru. Use your work experience to contribute to the organisation as well as complete individual tasks. Some team working activities include: reconciling two or more points of view; accepting the point of view of the majority, even if you did not share it; enthusing or motivating others.
10. Dress professionally
In order to always be ready to meet important clients who come in for meetings and need to speak with trainee consultants. There’s a well worn maxim in recruitment that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you’re in – and that applies to interns.
Louise Raycraft, Senior Academy Consultant, FDM.
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