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Monday, July 20, 2015

How my work shadowing day helped me get an internship at TARGETjobs

Hi, I'm Lizzie and I am currently an editorial intern at GTI Media (the parent company of TARGETjobs). I got the opportunity to apply for the internship after completing a work shadowing day at the company. Here's a few tips from me for anyone looking to do a work shadowing day or get an internship, based on my own experiences!


Finding the work shadowing opportunity

The work shadowing day at GTI Media, which was advertised through my university’s careers and employability website, really interested me as it was offering experience in a role and career field that I was interested in, with a company name that I knew through TARGETjobs e-mails. The fact that it was only for one day during Easter, as opposed to two weeks like some companies offered, also appealed to me as it was far more practical in terms of balancing my time with the essays I had to write in those few Easter weeks.

After completing the online application form, I got a place on the work shadowing day. I then had a meeting with a member of the careers guidance team at university which consisted of a short interview followed by run through of details, correct conduct and what to do next.

What my work shadowing day consisted of

It was well-structured with a number of exercises for us to do, and designed to give an insight into a variety of different tasks completed by the editorial team. We were even asked to give feedback on some layouts for a new website, which was great as it showed that the editors genuinely wanted our input and valued our opinions. Everyone was so accommodating and willing to answer our little group’s questions and talk us through how publishing differed at GTI to other companies they had worked at. This gave us a much broader insight into the publishing field than I was expecting. At the end of the day we were invited to apply for the summer internship by e-mailing our CVs and covering letters, and I was offered an interview the following day so it was a very quick process.

Reflecting on the work shadowing day

Even if I had applied for the internship beforehand, I still think the work shadowing day would have made a huge difference to my chances of getting an interview at GTI Media. It allowed my interviewer-to-be (and now manager), and other editors in the department a chance to get to know me in person and see for themselves how I worked with other people and took on the tasks that were given to me. It also gave me a new understanding of the company, and day-to-day tasks of an editor, and the insight I needed to decide whether this was a role I wanted to get further experience in. It was an all-round positive experience, and I definitely recommend students to seriously consider work shadowing days and short-term work experience as valuable opportunities which can potentially lead to longer placements.

Tips to impress:

If you have a work shadowing day coming up, here are some useful tips to make sure you make the most of the day. 
  • Check the dress code – this differs at every company so it’s important to ask what’s appropriate. GTI Media has a fairly relaxed dress code meaning I was able to wear smart jeans and a t-shirt, but if I’d been in another company I might have had to wear something more formal.
  • Show up at least 15 minutes early – this includes planning your route well in advance and checking the day before that your planned route is still useable (eg replacement buses meaning you’ll miss a connecting train).
  • Prepare some questions to ask specific to the role – I needed to think through exactly what I wanted to know about the publishing field, company, and role/duties of an editor.
  • Bring a notepad and pen – taking notes is always useful as you might forget a lot of what you’re told on the day (there will almost definitely be a lot of information!), and it’s also never a bad thing to look prepared.
  • Keep your energy up – between the commute, being nervous, and completing the tasks you’re given, you will get tired. Have a good night’s sleep the night before, and maybe get a little caffeine over lunch if it helps!
  • Take part and be enthusiastic – they won’t expect you to get everything right, so the way that you approach any tasks given, both practically and emotionally, are very important too. The exercises our group were given were an excellent opportunity to show that we were able to work in a team and individually, and could rise to new challenges and explain the reasoning behind our decisions.
  • Don’t be scared – it’s natural to be nervous, but I found the work environment at GTI Media so friendly that it quickly became clear that this was a positive learning experience and a chance to make a good impression, and not a day to be scared or too shy. If you can’t get over your nerves (it happens!) fake it ‘till you make it: smile, give a good handshake, and pretend you’re confident until you’re comfortable enough to actually feel confident.

For more information on internships and how to get them, check out the internship section on TARGETjobs. 

Article written by Lizzie Akass, TARGETjobs Editorial Intern. Connect with Lizzie on LinkedIn