Category Archives: James Chew

3 ways to effectively manage your time during placement

Being on placement doesn’t mean that you will be given interesting projects all the time. There is an element of mandate stuff that you will have to do as part of your job scope. Over time, this can get boring and sometimes you will fall into the zone of time wasting activities or even spending too much time reacting to last minute stuff. Here is my secret to how I manage my time as a placement student to be always on the ball and keep things interesting.

Identify what are activities, results or achievements

There is an infinite number of tasks waiting to be done, but what makes a difference in your placement would be how you categorise these kinds of tasks. I have learnt this on a course I attended during my placement which I thought was very useful and I am currently still doing it.

  1. Activities: These are stuff that is like second nature to you. The outcomes are usually within our control. (eg. Sending regular email updates)
  2. Results: These are stuff that doesn’t have an outcome you can control. Success is never guaranteed in these tasks. (eg. Presenting a new system which has been approved by the senior management)
  3. Achievements:  These are the stuff that you want people to remember you for. It is the legacy that you would be leaving in the company and in the minds of your colleagues.

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Managing the inner chimp

Have you ever told yourself that you would start a gym regime but didn’t got around to do it? Or have you ever told yourself that you would focus on getting the assignment done but didn’t get past the introduction?

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 These are signs of your inner chimp at work. All of us has the inner chimp and in order to be productive in our daily life, we have to be able to manage and tame it. The inner chimp is the emotional voice inside of you always telling you to talk the easiest way out or just stay within your comfort zone.

One way that I found useful to manage my inner chimp, is to break my task into smaller 30-minute chunks. By doing so, I find myself being able to focus during those 30 minutes slots without the urge to digress to other task or even feel the need to procrastinate. I usually find myself feeling achieved at the end of the day as I managed to complete my task. Here is an example of how I break down my task.

  • Market Research (1/4): 9am -9.30am
  • Detailed Analysis (2/4): 11am-11:30am
  • Report Compiling (3/4): 2pm – 2.30pm
  • Format Checking (4/4): 4pm – 4.30pm

If you interested in inner chimp concept, you should read The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters! Great book!

Self-Empowerment

For those who have never held a proper full-time job in their lives would be shocked at how much energy is drained from them at the end of the working day. This can take a while to adapt however over time it may become boring and demoralising at times. Hence, it is crucial to be able to self-motivate and empower yourself to keep your energy going!

What I found useful to have is a task checklist. Firstly, give yourself 3 task that you would like to achieve by the end of the week. Each of these tasks should be easily completed within an hour. Next, you should also have a daily task checklist which compromises of 3 tasks that require less than 30 minutes of work each. These should be easily complete before lunch or by the end of the working day! Here is an example of my weekly and daily task list.

  • Weekly Task List (30 minutes – 1 hour)
  1. Calling up supplier X to discuss a potential partnership.
  2. Compiling Excel Spreadsheet to calculate revenue trend.
  3. Researching on potential new features.
  • Daily Task List (less than 30 minutes)
  1. Clearing my emails from yesterday.
  2. Checking if the product X content is up to date.
  3. Printing outstanding contract to be filed.

As small as it may sound, these daily and weekly tasks are my motivation drivers that replenish my work energy and keeps me on task.

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4 tips to a fruitful placement experience

Hello everyone, my name is James Chew. I am a third year International Business and Management student, currently undertaking a year-long placement as the Products and Affiliate Assistant at British Tourism Authority in London. Getting a placement is tough, ensuring that you learn and develop skills during your placement is tougher! Here are some tips to ensure that you get the most out of your placement year!

1.Management Style

Take the time and effort to understand the management style of your line manager. This is crucial as different managers have different ways of leadership. My manager loves to give us the ideal outcome and ask us to suggest solutions to achieve that. This gives us a lot of freedom and creativity space to find the ideal solutions. In addition, you should also learn how your manager processes information. My manager loves to view information in the most visually appealing way. Hence, I would usually do mock-up designs or add lots of diagrams and colours in my spreadsheets when I’m presenting to her. Happy Boss = Happy Me!

2.Office Culture

Every team, department and company has a different vibe. You should try to immerse yourself in this office vibe as much as possible. By immersing yourself in the office vibe, you will learn to better communicate with your colleagues even if you are not on the same team or department. Being able to communicate with people is an important skill to learn and it takes constant practice to perfect the art.

If you are an introvert like me, then you can always start with attending social events and just starting with “How’s your day been?”. Being friendly with your colleagues from other teams and departments don’t just create a vibrant office environment, it always makes collaboration easier.

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3.Time Management

Most people usually work for 8-9 hours a day with an hour of lunch in between. That may seem like a lot of hours for those who have never held a full-time job, but trust me it is never enough to get all the work done. Especially when you are an intern, there will be times when you are assigned multiple tasks from various colleagues or even managers. Here is a tip, always ask for the deadlines for every task or assignment that lands on your desk. This would allow you to manage your tasks better.

If you realised that you have too much on your plate, don’t be shy to voice out and ask for help. Learning to put your pride down and ask for help doesn’t make you weak, instead, it makes you stronger as an individual! As the saying goes, “Time is Precious”. Do not waste time on inefficient ways of doing things.

 

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4. Results & Achievement

Results and achievement may seem quite straightforward to most students. However, it is almost impossible to constantly deliver results and achievements in the work environment as the definition of it changes over time. Take note of your company’s management directions, this will guide you on what the management deems important which would then be classified as results and achievement.

Here is an example, the management has decided to focus on increasing revenue for the next 6 months but you were more focus on developing a new function which is not crucial to increasing revenue. Even if you had succeeded in getting the new function to work, it would not have been an achievement as it was not the management’s focus.

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As I reach the conclusion of this blog entry, I would like to tell students on internships/placements to not be afraid of failing, getting reprimanded or even shun away by your colleagues. We are all in this to learn and gain professional experiences which would contribute to our future career paths. How much you want to gain from your internship/placements is not in the hands of your company but in yours!

DREAM BIG, REACH HIGH and NEVER GIVE UP!