Imagine a student sends you their CV – they are full of enthusiasm, but don’t have direct experience of your industry. Do you dismiss them out of hand? And if so, what might that response do to their confidence? How does it reflect on you and your company?
Speaking from experience, we know that with a supportive environment, work placements can be life-affirming for students and a great asset for your business.
Time to introduce our recent work experience student Joel Crann, who spent a week alongside the team at Tribepad. Supervised by our Senior Application Engineer, Dan Bowles, Joel got to work on code that will directly feed into our Video Interviewing platform. In this post, we look at how you can get the best out of your work experience students so that they can make a positive impact on their own future and your company – just like Joel did.
Unlock their potential
One of the reasons we often take on work experience students is that we believe they deserve a chance to shine. For young people still at school or just starting out in their career, placements are a fantastic way for them to show what they can do.
That’s why it’s important to look past that initial CV and get to know the student. Whether it’s face-to-face, a phone call or over video interview, we take the time to speak to student applicants.
The truth is, if you turn a work experience student down without finding out who they are, you could miss out on some real talent. Joel came to our attention when he called in looking for an opportunity and it was immediately obvious that he had great potential and a commitment to forging a career in computing.
“We are required to do work experience by school. I’m doing a GCSE in Computer Science and have recently built my own computer, so I definitely knew I wanted to go into something to do with computers! I’ve learnt so much at Tribepad, including the basics of a brand new programming language.”
Start with your student’s interests
Once you’ve accepted a work experience student, you need to think about what they will do when they are with you. To get the best out of them and make sure they stay motivated, try starting with their interests. What do they like to do in their spare time? Why did they choose to approach your company? What do they want to learn on their placement?
This was all pretty obvious with Joel: “I like to write code and program outside of school and I am really into the latest technology. The future is in computers and they open so many big opportunities – I love seeing how they work. It’s crazy how fast technology is progressing.”
With Joel showing so much passion for computing and programming, we decided to get him working directly with our own developers. That commitment shone through and by starting on his existing abilities and interests, he was able to develop new skills quickly. It also meant that Joel was able to forge a brilliant relationship with Dan and the team, working independently but also showing confidence to ask for guidance when necessary.
Get students working on live projects
Some companies consider work experience students separate to the core team and give them bespoke projects to work on. And although that might help them gain specific skills, they miss out on so much of the human interaction that goes into day-to-day working life. Those softer skills – communication, listening, showing your work – are just as vital to a student’s development.
That’s why we recommend you give students the opportunity to work on a live project. For Joel, that meant tackling some tricky programming challenges on our Video Interviewing platform.
“The whole week was a brilliant challenge, but I especially enjoyed working on real code. It was all about gesture-controlled artificial intelligence and meant trying a whole new programming language. There’s no way I would have got to learn this stuff at school, so I really tried to take as much of it on board as I could.”
Working on live projects makes your work experience student feel like they are part of the team. The confidence they get from being shown that level of trust can transform the way they think about their career. And if a student is truly exceptional, it’s a chance for you to see first-hand how they might interact with your team should you want to hire them in future. We have nurtured a potentially valuable and loyal employee of the future, as Joel has stated he would like to come and work for us. Not only this, Joel also helped on important projects that will form part of Tribepad’s future products.
Give Tribepad a try
Our award-winning recruitment software is used by some of the largest organisations in the world. If you’re interested in work experience at Tribepad or would like to know more about our products, feel free to contact our team.