Many work experience opportunities will be hybrid this year. ISE chief executive Stephen Isherwood offers some advice.
After a scarce few years, ISE’s June poll showed a return for work experience this summer.
Read more on the data in our blog Work experience returns but students must be prepared for hybrid.
People who get work experience are more likely to do well in the jobs market as they leave education. But this year students also need to be aware that they may be asked to work in a hybrid way, particularly those on shorter schemes.
All of the usual rules still apply, but no matter how remote students may feel, there is a job to do, they are at work and there are expectations. Look smart, be punctual, turn the camera on and look engaged. It’s important to behave in the same professional way as you would if you were in person.
5 tips for hybrid work experience
Work experience comes in many forms: a day’s work shadowing, part-time employment, formal internships, a year-long work placement. Whatever experiences come up, there are a few simple rules that can help make the most of the opportunity:
1. Speak up when you need support virtually
A recent study on work experience students found that because Gen Z’s are digital natives, they are confident with the technological side of working virtually, easily sharing their screens and navigating Microsoft Teams. However, they struggle with soft skills that are typically developed in person. Skills such as asking for more work, accessing development opportunities and being visible to their manager.
A way to combat this is to speak up, be honest with your manager about things that you are struggling with, or that could be improved.
2. Practice virtual networking
ISE found that engagement with senior leaders in the organisation has fallen from of the most used development approached (87% in 2021), to one of the least used in 2022 (28% in 2022). This is due to students and graduates spending less time physically present in their organisation.
Read more on this in our blog on how graduate and apprentice skills development has changed.
Work experience students can adopt a proactive approach, following up over email after meetings with senior leaders, having a virtual coffee and finding a work mentor to build their network, even in a virtual or hybrid work place.
3. Pay attention
No matter how menial you think your job, you are at work and there is a lot you can learn through observation. What roles do people have? How are decisions made? What happens when something doesn’t go to plan?
4. Help get things done
Work is about getting stuff done so aim to be as helpful as possible. Doing this will achieve two things: you will get a greater understanding of the work environment by getting stuck in, and the people you work with will remember your actions and who knows what other opportunities may follow.
Most people forget to take some time to look back and reflect on their experience. This stage is where the most important learning happens. Ask yourself, what tasks did I enjoy or not enjoy? What skills do I need to work on? What would I have done differently? And most important of all, what next steps should I take to further my career.
Read more insight and data on work experience