It is probably safe to come out of my room. Throughout the summer we have had the usual crop of internees, work experience candidates and volunteers - call them what you will. They were all keen, pleasant, polite, and frighteningly intelligent and some even really impressive. Work experience is an extended interview if not for the firm, then for the profession. We are looking for personal qualities and the best students are not always the people from top schools or universities.
Here are some tips for students to make work experience effective.
1. Put something interesting - or at least different - in your CV. Everyone does swimming, reads and watches films. 2. Bring a pen and notebook. Learn how to use them. 3. Think what your goals are. What did you know about the firm when you started and what have you learnt in the week or whenever? What were you expecting? Did you think the staff would all be middle aged, white and men? 4. Think who can help you in the office. The senior partner is probably on his or her second nervous breakdown by 9.30am on Monday. Other staff may be less tense. 5. What do people do? What sort of case are they working on? What type of clients do they like or hate or why?6. Learn how to make a nice cup of tea or coffee. If you don’t know how, ask someone to show you or go online and download a recipe. 7. Don’t expect to be entertained - much time is repetitive, boring, difficult or dull. 8. Talk to people about their careers – why did they choose the sort of work they did? Are they doing what thought they would do? 9. Write a letter of thanks. 10. Keep in touch. Some students go on to do work experience at the same firm more than once.
David Pickup is a partner in Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott