Sophie Hodgson, a final year marketing student, recently shared her work experience wisdom via a live web chat hosted by The Guardian.
Alongside Sophie, a number of careers experts sat on the panel, including Kirstie Mackey, head of Lifeskills for Barclays.
We caught up with Sophie to find out more about the experience.
Can you tell us more about the web chat?
“I was quite nervous before the web chat as it was slightly out of my comfort zone. I was also the only student that was taking part – the rest if the panel were experts in employability.
“But then, during the web chat, I was able to answer all of the questions in detail and I was even able to take on the questions that the others couldn’t. The experience has taught me not to be afraid of stepping up and giving my opinion, whether it’s in favour of someone else’s view, or in opposition.
“I learnt that it’s important to be confident in your view and to have confidence in yourself and your own ability. I was nervous beforehand; however I was quick to realise that I most certainly knew a lot more than I thought I did due to my experiences both on placement and at University.”
What was the best tip you gave during the web chat?
“My one piece of advice for students beginning a placement, is to not be afraid of making mistakes as you go along your placement as this is a natural thing to do and you arguably need to make these mistakes now as this is how you learn and adapt to these mistakes to improve in the future. Your team are there to help and support you, so make sure you ask questions whenever you are unsure and do not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and getting involved with projects/ jobs that require a great deal of responsibility as this is your time to do it and your confidence will grow significantly!”
You completed a work placement at Disney. Can you tell us more about this?
“I was a Creative Marketing Intern for Disney Destinations International.
“During my time with the company, I helped my manager produce and plan TV, video and digital display for Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris and Disney Cruise Line.
“One of my biggest achievements was when I organised the assessment day for the new interns who were taking over from us. I also organised an intern exchange programme with Google and a head office takeover week for the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris.”
How did you secure your position at Disney. Can you tell us more about this?
“I applied for the position having seen an ad on Rate my Placement. I was then shortlisted for the Disney Destinations International Assessment day. This involved a group task, an individual test and an interview. Within a week I was given the amazing news by my new line manager to be, that I had been successful at the assessment day and had got the job – an amazing feeling!”
What are your top three tips for people who will be completing work experience?
“My first top tip would be make sure that you take advantage of every single opportunity that comes your way throughout this time. You are only there for a short amount of time and it is vital that you make a strong impression within the team/ company, so get involved with as many external events, learning opportunities and team activities as you can as this shows your willingness, dedication for your career, strengthens relationships and aids confidence.
“Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – you are surrounded by experts in the field that you are wanting to go into. Whether this be senior leaders, managers or interns like you, it is amazing what you can learn just by observing others or working alongside team members who are brilliant at their jobs and help mould you for the future.
“Finally, make sure that you make contacts and stay in contact! As the old saying goes, ‘its not what you know, its who you know’, and this could be critical for opportunities that arise in the future. But above all, just enjoy your time on placement and make the most of every new, exciting opportunity that comes your way!”
Can you recommend any useful resources for students looking to improve their employability?
“The main resource point I would suggest for students to use to their full advantage is the Careers and Employability Service.
“All the staff are so supportive and on hand whenever you need them for advice and any help/ support that you may need with applications, interviews and assessment centres. They offer great sessions regarding ways that you can enhance your employability and run sessions with prospective employers that could be vital in securing a placement.
“They are also there as a great support network, as often the application process for placements can be vigorous and they are always there to offer to advice.”
What do you plan to do after graduation?
“After graduation I plan on embarking in a career in marketing and advertising, preferably in the retail industry. I’m not sure yet if I’d prefer to work in-house at a company or in a fast-paced marketing agency, but my plan is to apply for a variety of different roles and see what I can achieve.”
If you would like to see the web chat, please visit the comments section on this Guardian article.