14th September 2011

How to get Work Experience in a Digital Agency

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Work Experience For a lot of people, the month of September signifies only one thing; going back to education. Whether this is school, college or university, the start of a new year always brings doom and gloom as the summer break draws to a close. Whilst this alone is often more than enough for most students to think about, a wily few are looking past the next 10 months and are starting to consider what they are going to do after their life of education finishes. As someone who benefited hugely from work experience (and then a part time job) during education, I thought it best to offer my views from the agency side on how to go about landing a placement that could be the difference between getting and not getting a job when it matters most.

1. Work out what you actually want to do

There are a lot of different job roles in a digital agency, so simply contacting a company and asking if they can give you “experience” may prove less than fruitful if you are not sure what experience it is you actually want. Work out your skills & interests and decide on a position. This can be fairly generic such as design, development or project management, but make the decision before you get in touch and ensure that this is communicated to the agency. Them having a designer shadowing a developer for a week is not beneficial for either party.

2. Do your research

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Before you start searching Google for “Digital Agency” or contacting your dream company; do the legwork. Make sure they actually do the job role you wish to carry out in-house and are set up to take on work experience students. Few industries share as much information about their company and staff members as those in digital so do your research. Know who you need to speak to, what their job role is and what they are in to. If you are able to create a rapport when you do speak to them then the chances of getting something from them will increase hugely.

3. Don’t ask for a placement via email

This is the one that infuriates me most and yet it is the simplest thing in the world to avoid. If you are looking for a placement at an agency then either give them a call, send a letter in the post or knock on their door. By simply sending an email, you are suggesting to the agency that you either don’t have the confidence to talk to someone directly or aren’t really that interested in their company. From the students side, how can you show passion and desire without two way communication? You need to ensure that you are speaking to someone that has the authority to take you on (point 2) and make them like you. Sell them the benefits of yourself, showcase your skills, tell them why you would like to work in their agency and what your ideal role would be (point 1).

4. Be realistic

This is probably my key point. You are a very fortunate individual if in the current climate the first agency you speak to offers you a two week placement doing your ideal role. Sometimes you will be turned down, offered a role you don’t really want to do or simply only get the chance for a quick office tour and a 30 minute chat. Take this is in your stride and persevere. Work experience is not only a fantastic thing to have on your CV, regardless of how long you did it for, or what the tasks were, but it also allows you into a real life working environment in the industry you want to work in.