Small Firms Embrace Opportunities

Small Firms Embrace Opportunities

The Benefits of Offering Work Experience to Students

Small firms embrace opportunities by hosting two year 12 students from BHASVIC for a three-day work experience placement in July. This marked a significant departure from our past practices, where resource constraints had hindered our ability to offer such opportunities. Nonetheless, as part of our commitment to engaging with local schools and colleges, we overcame our reservations and extended a warm welcome to Lara and Massiel, both eager learners. The experience, although not devoid of challenges, proved to be immensely rewarding, prompting us to pledge annual work experience opportunities. In this article, we will explore the advantages this endeavour brought to our business and provide tips to ensure a beneficial and fulfilling experience for both employers and students.

Small Firms Embrace Opportunities Benefits

Small Firms Embrace Opportunities: Benefits of Work Experience

Supervising and organising tasks for placement students presents a splendid opportunity for team members to enhance their people management skills. Witnessing the remarkable progress of these students in just three days was, for me personally, one of the most rewarding aspects of my role this year. While it did entail some deviation from our typical daily responsibilities and a few extended workdays, the investment in time and effort paid off handsomely.

Work experience students can contribute meaningfully to your business. Contrastingly, my own work experience placement at Northumberland Magistrates Court in 2003 involved mundane tasks such as file shredding, basic data entry, and tea-making. Lara and Massiel, on the other hand, actively contributed to our Chamber’s operations, providing fresh perspectives and delivering tangible benefits. Their responsibilities included researching speakers for our events, crafting marketing mailers and collateral, producing blog content, and designing surveys—all of which left a positive impact on our business.

Amidst the educational disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing industrial action, providing students with a genuine glimpse into the working world seemed not only prudent but essential. These students represent the future workforce, and acquainting ourselves with their challenges, opportunities, and skills requirements is crucial. This knowledge empowers us to collaborate with schools in shaping the learning experiences that prepare students for the demands of today and tomorrow.

Small Firms Embrace Opportunities: Tips for Success

  1. Establish Preliminary Contact: Initiate communication with the student before the placement, ideally through a phone call. This initial interaction offers insights into the student’s skills, experiences, and interests. It also creates a welcoming atmosphere and motivates the student to join your team.
  2. Prioritize Preparation: Thorough preparation is the key to a successful work experience placement. Plan tasks in advance and create a structured schedule. Our placement students found having a weekly itinerary immensely helpful in orienting themselves each morning.
  3. Consider Pairing Students: While it might initially seem more demanding to host two students instead of one, we discovered that pairing them was a beneficial approach. Students often work together, collaborating and jointly resolving challenges.
  4. Treat Them as Team Members: Rather than treating the students as mere students, empower them with independence. Encourage them to take initiative and explore the workplace. Avoid micromanagement; they are there to gain practical experience, which occasionally involves seeking additional tasks or assistance and working on multiple assignments simultaneously.
  5. Adapt to Technology Constraints: Small teams may lack surplus laptops or desktops, but this should not deter you. Embrace creativity by sharing equipment and devising a flexible work programme. Students do not always require constant computer access, and you can employ cloud-based solutions like Google Drive for seamless document sharing.

In conclusion, offering work experience to students can be an immensely rewarding endeavour, benefiting both your business and the students themselves. By developing students’ skills and giving them a real taste of the working world, you contribute to their education and growth while also gaining fresh insights and assistance in your business operations. With careful planning and a willingness to adapt, hosting students can be a mutually beneficial experience that enriches your workplace and paves the way for a brighter future for the emerging workforce.

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