I Swapped Partying For Work Experience! Here’s What I Learned

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Last month I’d made plans to see my favorite DJ with a few friends up in Newcastle and then my plans changed when I got an unexpected phone call.

A lady called Meg phoned me from a language consultancy in London, where I’d applied for work experience a few months prior. She was phoning to let me know I’d been successful in my application and was invited to their two-day work experience in London. Eeek!

The Writer is a language consultancy based both in London and New York. Their brand mantra is so different to most others. They aren’t about being overly formal, overcomplicating things or acting prestigious.

They’re a down-to-earth, young, relevant company who have an incredible online presence. They said their idea for Word Experience came about when they had so many applications for work experience that they ended up getting the applicants to do menial tasks like photocopying.

So instead they created Word Experience; a two-day micro internship, jam packed with information. It’s invitation only to twenty lucky candidates. Here’s what I learned:

#1 Stand out from the crowd

Let’s use applying for a job as an example; employers are going to get hundreds, maybe even thousands of applications so you need to make sure yours is different. Because if it isn’t, how do you expect to appear a cut above the rest?

The same applies in anything else, turning up to a job interview wearing a bright orange scarf, writing your application in a non-standard format or presenting your interviewer with a handmade, relevant gift–just do anything that will make sure you’re remembered.

 

 

#2 Make friends, don’t network

I asked a guy who worked there about networking, and he put his head in his hands. He was like “If I can give you one piece of advice, don’t network, make friends.” He said if he didn’t like a person he spoke to, there’s no way he’d contact them again having someone thrust a business card in your face after a two-minute convo is appealing to no one.

However, if there’s someone you really get on well with or find interesting, then exchange contact details, just like you would with a friend.

#3 Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback

I asked for feedback on my application, and upon receipt of the feedback, I replied again thanking them for it–it was this that actually got me the internship. They stressed that feedback is a conversation; it’s not a one-way thing. I know it seems minor, but I wouldn’t have landed the experience without it.

 

 

#4 Fake it ’til you make it

Our final task of the experience was to present in front of the entire London office. As the worst public speaker on the planet, I was not looking forward to it. The girl next to me looked so confident so I asked her for some tips.

She told me that her heart beats fast just like mine does, she gets panicky thoughts and she feels flustered, but the crowd has no idea. She’s so right, how are the crowd to know? If you stand there confidently, the audience will believe you.

If you start shaking, move your body, if your heart beats fast, take a few deep breaths and smile. If you haven’t seen Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on faking it ‘til you make it, then make sure you give it a watch! If you seem like you know what you’re doing, others will believe it.

So at the end of the experience, I’d learned all of these amazing things, met some amazing people and managed to present in front of a group of over 50 people–something I never would’ve done had I gone on a night out. Sometimes putting your career first can be the best idea ever.

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