In this guest post, Lucy Kember, HR graduate trainee at Standard Life Aberdeen, reassures students that although gaining work experience may seem daunting, most employers are understanding that this may be your first experience of an office-based workplace, and that enthusiasm is more important than excel! To echo her sentiments, we urge you not to let a lack of previous experience put you off trying to secure an internship.
Beginning your first internship or work experience placement can definitely be daunting – especially for someone like me who had no previous office experience and not a great deal of confidence in my ownership of projects. I found myself worrying before I started – will I be the only one who has never had a desk job? Will my part time job serving students in a bar give me the transferable skills that I need to succeed in this new role? Despite these anxieties, I was excited and enthusiastic about beginning my 10-week internship in the HR function at Standard Life.
What I came to realise during this programme, was that determination to do well, passion about what I was doing and inquisition to find out more about the wider function and business really was all that I was expected to come with. My manager and team did not expect me to have a deep and extensive knowledge about the world of HR, nor were they disappointed when I didn’t know how to make a pivot table in Excel. In fact, whilst I had responsibility of my own project, I was in a safe space to ask questions and get support whenever I needed it. I left feeling not only like I had developed personally and professionally, but also that I had delivered a piece of work that was useful for the business.
Coming back for the graduate scheme after university also came with its own concerns but what I realised straight away was that everyone sitting around me had been at the start of their career at some point, and they were always happy to help. Not only this, but senior leaders actually put time in my diary to chat to me about their role and career journey. I’ve also been fortunate to have really supportive placement managers who have always made time for extra catch ups if I needed it. A year on, I can’t believe how much I’ve learnt about the business and the different roles within the function. I’ve been lucky to work in 3 completely different placements, worked with some really talented people and made great friends along the way!
Both the internship and graduate scheme have really helped me in being able to identify my strengths and weaknesses and consider which areas of HR appeal to me. My summer placement allowed the business to consider whether I would be a good fit, but it also allowed me to consider whether this was a career that was right for me – and it definitely took the pressure off not having to reapply for graduate schemes in my final year of university! I would encourage anyone to apply for this type of programme during university – ask questions, find out about the wider business and sector and make the most of the experience.
View Standard Life Aberdeen’s current internship vacancies on MyCareerHub: https://mycareerhub.ed.ac.uk/students/organisations/jobs/107436/standard-life-aberdeen