As the summer is approaching, many of you would be looking for work. Whether it is a graduate job or a summer internship, you may be setting foot into the workplace for the very first time in your life! So we thought we’d run a blog series on starting work, and all the questions that come with it. We’ve asked the resident experts (Employer Engagement and Talent Bank Team) to give us their perspective on making a good impression at work!

Amy Dicks, is one of our Employability Assistants and she has been working at the Career Development Centre (CDC) since July 2016. Prior to joining Westminster, Amy worked in communications and PR. If you are part of the Talent Bank you may have met her at an Assessment Day. Let’s see what she has to say about starting work!

Amy, what is the best thing about your job now?

Seeing the way that I have helped students whether with their employability directly or just helping them to stop worrying about their future.

What was your first job? Do you remember your first day at work?

My first full-time job was in PR, most of our clients were property developers so I used to run public consultation events for local people who lived near a new development. At controversial developments or town regenerations people used to protest at the events – it meant dealing with a lot of difficult or angry people but it has helped me to keep calm under pressure and be a better listener, as well as not taking business personally!

Wow, that sounds like very useful experience! So, from your experience at work, what are some really good/bad work etiquette that you have seen? (We are all ears!)

When you start a new job or doing work experience, it comes across really well to ask your line manager or supervisor ‘is there anything else I can help you with?’ at the end of the day before you leave. 

Something bad that I’ve seen, wearing headphones all the time makes it hard for your colleagues to communicate with you and you come across closed off. I would also say dressing too casually. When you are new or doing work experience it comes across well to be smart, especially for the first few weeks as it shows that you value and care about the experience. It doesn’t have to be a suit but just avoiding blue jeans and trainers and not looking scruffy.

Can you share a top tip for students on starting their very first job?

Smile! I did two 6 months’ work placements when I was at University and it was one of the most valuable things I have done. When I left my first placement at a magazine everyone said they were going to miss me because I always had a smile on my face.

Also making sure that you do tasks right – there’s no point doing something really fast that is full of mistakes or needs to be re-done. Take your time to produce high quality work.

Finally, what is an insider’s secret tip to doing well at the Talent Bank Assessment Day?

A couple of things are really simple and go for all jobs or interviews – be smart, arrive on time and be polite and respectful to everyone around you at all times.

One thing that is specific to our assessment day, although others use them too, is at the end of the assessment day we give out a self-assessment form. This is your chance to reflect on your own performance. We genuinely want students to be honest when they answer this. Therefore if you didn’t perform as well as you hoped in a task, came in late or something didn’t go smoothly on the day – write it down here. If we can see that you can recognise how you could have improved or acknowledge a mistake we are more likely to look past it.

Thank you Amy for giving us some concrete tips and advice. The next Talent Bank intake is coming up and if you would like to gain paid part-time work alongside your studies, apply by 12 June!

Watch this space as we interview Kristina Kand (also Employability Assistant) next week for her top tips and advice!


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