FIRST WORKING EXPERIENCES
To gain work experience as soon as you can is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your future.
Most jobs require experience and a degree for you to be considered. The problem is that it is difficult to find that work experience
There are two important things about searching for vac jobs:
PLAN and USE your CONTACTS
Plan: It is important to plan in advance because the company needs time to prepare what they are going to do with you for the time you are there. If it’s not arranged in advance it will probably not happen.
Use your contacts: The biggest influence on your ability to find a job is who you know, or in my case (a varsity student) who your parents know! I have been fortunate enough to have parents that have connections in the line of work that I want to go into.
It has been such a new and different experience working in companies. Here are some of the things I have learnt.
Lessons from doing vac jobs:
Lesson 1: Only listen to your boss, not others. A huge part of your working experience revolves around the people you work with. The first vac job I got last year was with a small company where I worked with about five people.The first thing I learnt that you have to be careful from whom you take orders.
One day when my boss was off sick, another lady told me I could leave work early. I thought this was great because I wanted to get home. That night my dad told me something that made a lot of sense: he said that the only person I should listen to at work is my boss. This is because if my boss had come back to work that afternoon and I was not there, I would be the one with the bad record.
Lesson 2: Don’t take things personally. The second thing I learnt was from my work experience (in a much bigger company this year) was that you will meet a wide variety of people. Every person will treat you differently and you have to be aware of who and what you let influence and affect you. You will meet some great people from whom you will learn a lot. You may also encounter a few nasty people. I had to learn quickly how to not take things personally.
One woman in particular was quite verbally aggressive and antagonistoc towards me, although she knew nothing about me. I was taken aback. I wanted to shout back at her or throw something at her but all I did was sit and smile at her. I did not respond to anything she said. If I had reacted she would have gotten exactly what she wanted, to make ME look like the fool. Instead I chose to feel sorry for her and her issues.
To my delight she eventually left me alone. This was a huge eye-opener for me – I never thought I would meet unprofessional people in such a professional environment.
You have to prepare yourself to meet all kinds of people and think of how you will deal with them.
Lesson 3: Go outside your comfort zone. I learnt that going out of your comfort zone to do what is required of you will help you to grow as a person. This helped me to overcome some of my fears.
I am quite a shy person when interacting with people that I do not know. In this vac job I had to phone many people. I often had no idea of how to pronounce their names. I would get so nervous before calling them.
What I decided to do was to just dial the number without thinking of the task and when the person answered I had to just go with it. It became a lot easier for me in the end because I had learnt that, even if people were unfriendly on the phone, I was doing a good job.
Lesson 4: Fake it till you make it. Appear confident and friendly even if that is not how you are feeling inside. It can be extremely nerve-racking when you are in a new job, but appearing confident will allow others to feel confident in your abilities. Once you have acted confident for a few days it will feel more natural. Suddenly you will truly feel confident in yourself and your abilities.
Nothing is a waste of time
if you use the experience wisely.