Tuesday, 16 June 2015

From Student to Prudent - The 12 Month Transformation

This is a guest article written by Sawsan Hamawandy, who has spent the past year working as Channel Communications Intern for NetApp, as part of her sandwich placement course. I think there is some really fantastic advice here for students about to embark on their placement year, to ensure they maximise the experience. The article was originally posted on LinkedIn and republished here with permission of the author.

With my amazingly fabulous time at NetApp drawing its final week, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on my experience. Twelve months ago, I walked into my internship with a smile on my face and an open mind. Though I had been told, I would be doing “real-work”, I had no idea what that would entail and what would lie ahead. How can someone distinguish what is real-work and what isn’t? A year on I completely understand!
I have learnt that an internship is not just about achieving your personal or business targets. In fact, that is only the bare minimum, a student should seek to accomplish. A placement has so many untapped opportunities which I see students overlook time and time again and to me this is ludicrous. How many opportunities do we get throughout our careers to experiment, practice what we love, discover our weaknesses, develop our strengths and challenge our limits?
Currently, second year university students are about to start their placement years, some may have already started while others are still searching; whether you are in sales or marketing, HR or finance take the time to consider the following to maximize your potential.
1.      Sixty second summary - you should be able to communicate the organisation's purpose, offerings and values in a short elevator style pitch. If you don’t understand a week into your role, then you should really question how you can support the organisation to reach their goals.

2.      Ask before the task, don’t just bask - you’re not expected to know everything. You were hired because they saw the potential in you which they didn’t see in other applicants. You are there to learn and so it is really key you absorb as much knowledge as you can.

3.      Mingle like a Pringle- there is no better way to build your network, than with those around you. You do not need to limit yourself to those in your team. I found that you learn just as much from those who aren’t in your department to those that are.

4.      Don’t fright to take a bite – although your utmost priority should be completing your assigned duties, it is really good if you can get involved with things out side of your role. Not only will this get you exposure into different parts of the organisation, you gain experience in additional tasks. In other words, don’t be afraid to create doors to open. You will find most companies will actually benefit from the additional support.

5.      Sometimes backwards is forwards- when being trained to do things in the early days, it is easy to complete tasks in the way shown and expected. Whether you are writing a report for your manager, communicating to a partner or targeting a customer, sometimes step back and put yourself in their shoes. To take a step back allows you to see the bigger picture and if what you are doing is actually the most effective. The methods of yesterday won’t always achieve tomorrow's goals.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you too NetApp (particularly my managers and brilliant team) who have supported me form the moment I skipped through the front doors of our lovely office. It truly is a great place to work and a brilliant company! 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Up Periscope!

Regular readers of this blog will have become accustomed to me getting excited by technology and how it relates to employability issues. I've championed the use of Twitter for student/employer engagement through #PlacementChat, tried my hand at a 6 second CV on Vine, and proved there is more to Pinterest than cats and crochet. However, in this technological age, nothing lasts forever and it is important to keep a close eye on what may be the next big thing.

The new kid on the block which is giving me goosebumps is Periscope, a live streaming app which allow users to broadcast from their mobile/tablet to a worldwide audience. Built by Twitter, Periscope is user friendly and ties in with your existing network of followers. Quite simply, press record and whatever you see on your camera goes live to whoever wants to watch. This includes turning the camera on yourself and speaking about whatever topic comes to mind. Viewers can ask questions to the presenter, making the broadcast interactive.

Given the recent rise of video interviewing technology like Sonru, Periscope seems like a logical extension for how students can put themselves in the eye of employers, or vice versa. For example, rather than utilise expensive webinar software, a recruiter could use Periscope to talk about placement opportunities at their company to interested candidates, with the viewers able to type questions about the scheme live as it happens.

I'm personally excited about using Periscope for my placement activities. This week there is a #PlacementChat scheduled from 4-5pm on Thursday (18 June) and I plan to use Periscope throughout to answer questions that are posed, breaking the shackles of the 140 character limit to provide insightful responses. I hope that my face for radio won't scare people off!

Find me on Periscope and Twitter using @PlacementBlog and we'll see how it works on Thursday!