Careers Advice

A summer placement survival guide

Written by Iain Broadhead, who participated in the ScotGrad Summer Placement Programme in 2015 and is now undertaking a graduate placement with the ScotGrad team, helping to manage the Summer Placement Programme.

Published: 06/07/2016

Iain Broadhead

Your first step into the world of professional work can be an unnerving thought. You won’t be alone in feeling a little tense in the days leading to your summer placement.

Aside from the fact you’ll be earning money, you’ll inevitably learn new life and work skills that’ll set you in great stead for your future career and help you build a great CV.

It’s important to remember that your new employer won’t expect you to know everything and they’ll have a plan for you. We’ve developed some top tips to help you get the most out of your time with them:

  1. Ask questions: Right from the start your new colleagues will talk about things which you don’t understand but which they assume you do. If you stop and ask questions your understanding of the business and of your role will grow much faster. Piece things together bit by bit by asking questions whenever you need to.
  2. Be observant: Your placement is a chance to experience what it’s like to work in a real business. From team meetings to working with customers, you’ll experience all sorts of new things that will help to build your skills. Attend everything you can, put yourself forward, even if it means you need to stay late or get in early.
  3. Get to know your colleagues: The people you’ll meet during your placement will invariably want the very best for you. They will appreciate the work you do and be keen to offer you a helping hand. Find out what they do and what their interests are. Remember that these are the people that might be able to help you get a job after you’ve graduated.
  4. Show what you can do: You may be able to offer skills that other people in the business can’t. How could the company benefit from your knowledge of social media for example? Let the business see what you can do, even if it’s something you’ve learned outside of college, or university – like managing a sport team.
  5. Positivity: There may be times where you aren’t totally satisfied with what you are doing. Perhaps you don’t have enough work to do or the tasks you have aren’t your idea of fun. When this happens it is important to remain positive and to make the most of the situation. Remember how valuable professional experience is and how much it will benefit you in the future.
  6. Leave your mark: Being proactive is key to a successful placement. Make sure people remember you for your hard work, enthusiasm, and ability to step up to the mark. Your colleagues will help you if they see you want to contribute, and will stay in touch with you once you’ve gone if you have been memorable. Remember, these are the people who may be able to help you get a job later.

You can find out more about ScotGrad’s paid summer placements in Scotland on our website. Find out here whether you’re eligible, how to apply, and see examples of former summer placement students. If you’d like to ask any questions, please contact us.