Graduate Blog

What I Learnt From My Work Experience


I was made to experience work back in Year 10. However much I didn’t want to, the retort received from assured authorities was that it would be good for me; be good for somebody as shy as I was. Everybody else loves it. A standardised answer one would expect from a standardised, sausage-machine system of education. One size fits all, but if our size doesn’t fit you – start star-jumping fatty.

What’s worse was that I had to acclimatise to the Supermarket way of work, and, of course, such a thing is impossible. I was told to stack coleslaws in fewer than five minutes or face unspecified ramifications. Then, conversely, I was told that for an unpaid member of staff, I was working too hard. I was the target of past their best packs of bacon thrown by past their best societal strugglers.

Mrs. Shand, a friendly, Francophone face at our school, met me in a quiet aisle.

‘What have you learnt from your experience?’ She asked obediently.

‘To study hard enough to avoid working here.’

Shaking with silent laughter she replied, ‘I’m glad you said that.’

It almost goes without saying that I too learnt to respect the army of super(store) workers who toil across the country; the value of their pay-packets disproportionate to the value of their labour. The treatment of whom varies from mild indifference to visible risible distain from supervisors and shoppers alike.

Whether or not this was a true workplace experience, I couldn’t possibly say. What I can say with confidence though is that the week I spent there has left me with the most unshakably stubborn compulsion to over-think opportunities when they fall my way. So when I was presented with the chance to work as a music blog writer for the day, I felt the overwhelming desire to turn it down. Though it was me who had made the initial contact, I found myself floundering, once again chronically unsure.

Against the schizophrenic chorus-line of what ifs? that were so at home in my mind, I just agreed. Though it seemed hard at the depths of midnight staring at my ceiling in silence, asking myself if I really had to do it, I just agreed. It would be good for me, I told myself, good for somebody as shy as I am. Everybody else loves it. (Well, if you hear something enough…)

Though this time, perhaps for the first time ever, I let myself love it. I felt overjoyed at being able to consider myself part of the party of those who find gleaming rewards in the art of pushing oneself.

During the day spent writing about the haves and have-Notts of the Nottingham music scene for whom I was yet to turn my chair, I was treated with an attitude that seemed more consistent with how I imagined work to be. I was warmly welcomed into the team before being kept at arm’s length. I knew that no question was off limits, yet also acutely aware of the need to present myself in a professional and competent manner.

I left the session nine hours later relieved in the knowledge that I had gained a rounded look at what I want to do in the future. Granted, I’m not too self-assured to admit that perhaps I lack the requisite knowledge to make it as a music journalist, but the craft of writing is the one for me. Not only did I felt content, but stimulated and challenged.

This opportunity has provided me with something more valuable than just alliteration and anecdotal quips, and it would be negligent of me to withhold my work experience tips. I know such thing is ten a penny in student website circles but I can sense that my blog is slowly becoming a marathon of smugness and I want this read to be particularly worthwhile for you. Without further ado, the following are titbits of advice I picked up during my day as an intern.

1. Social media is the intern’s friend. Your efforts to spread their cause is appreciated by potential employers.

2. Pack the kitchen sink and be prepared to plumb it in at a moment’s notice. If the question begins with “Has someone got…” your answer is “I HAVE”.

3. Fifteen minutes early is always better than fifteen minutes late. If you don’t know where you’re going, set off with plenty of time to spare.

4. Believe in yourself, your abilities and to keep turning up, no matter what the circumstances.

About the Author

Thomas Bell Thomas Bell

Graduate of Film Studies at the University of Warwick. Currently snatching every opportunity as a freelance writer. My advice on here always comes from personal experience; I've been to the places, done the things and worn the T-shirts you'd rather not. Let me be a warning to you. Regurgitates Morrissey lyrics (just like everybody else does) and supports Morecambe F.C. (because nobody else will).

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