It seems like only the other day I was beginning my placement at Nationwide. It’s gone so quickly but been an amazing experience! Looking back over my placement so far here’s some of the main lessons I’ve learnt:
Step outside your comfort zone– Everyone has to do things that they don’t feel comfortable with, but by pushing your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone you give yourself the opportunity to grow and progress. Eventually you become comfortable doing the things that you didn’t before!
Be ambitious – Set yourself goals. It can be easy to overlook development, so setting yourself realistic goals helps you to keep focused, push yourself and have an aim to work towards.
Be self-aware– Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and there’s always going to be areas which you can improve on. By being aware and knowing your weaknesses as well as your strengths you can make the most of what you’re good at and work on areas which you’re not.
Be flexible and open– There’s always going to be things thrown your way which you don’t expect, but being flexible and adjusting to change can be really important. Being open to different tasks can give you the chance to learn new things and in the long run can mean that more opportunities come your way.
Be positive– Having a positive attitude and being enthusiastic goes a long way not only in helping you achieve your goals but also in the impression others have of you.
Be friendly and approachable– Being friendly and approachable not only helps you build relationships but also means you have more people willing to help and work with you.
Be honest– It’s always best to be realistic and honest about what you can do and how you feel.
The last few months since starting my placement have been a whirlwind of experiences. Some good and some not so good. Nevertheless, experiences are what we learn from and so far this is what I have learnt.
If you’re working on something that is taking up too much time, more often than not, there is a better way to do it! It makes sense to ask someone for help rather than wasting countless hours and from what I’ve experienced, if they don’t know the answer, they’ll know someone who does.
Networking and socialising is very important. Creating contacts and forming good working relationships could open up opportunities in the future, as well as having that good reference for when you’re looking to secure a graduate job. LinkedIn is the Facebook of the professional world and a great way to keep in contact with those people you meet during placement (or any working environment). Also, not to state the obvious but, networking and socialising not only helps create opportunities later in life but it also makes life a lot more fun in the work place
Prioritisation is key. Working in Sales Finance, there have been times where a lot was going on and I had been given tasks to complete by different people, my managers and Sales Team members. My lack of prioritisation skills got me into some trouble as I struggled to get everything done on time. Lesson learnt. I now try to complete work in order of importance and be more realistic about how much I can do at once.
Working up until Christmas has been hectic at UB to say the least. With the year coming to an end the Sales and Finance teams have been working hard to close down their accounts for 2014 and plan for the next year. From a Finance perspective I was working with my manager to ensure that my Sales business partner had the help needed to successfully plan for next year investments and growth targets. I also supported my managers in terms of getting releases. Release is a term used for the money injected back into the profit and loss account that hasn’t been used, nor will be used in the remainder of the year which had previously been set aside as an amount that could have been paid out as an expense. There were targets to reach before the end of the year making this quite a stressful period for everyone.
Work aside everyone was getting into the festive spirit, teams were decorating their desks and putting up Christmas trees. There was tinsel everywhere! If that wasn’t festive enough, an elf also went around the office handing out biscuits and treats! Christmas had come early, literally!
Goodbye lie ins, going to sleep at silly o clock, and hello 6 am starts, 10 pm bedtime and a lifestyle with routine.
The working world isn’t what I had it cut out to be if I’m going to be honest. I thought I would be enjoying the perks of being a working adult and having £’s to spend without having to work out how much I had left to spend per week until the next loan drops (maybe that’s just me!). However, I was not completely prepared for the amount of work and learning I was about to take on or how tired I would feel in the first few weeks of my placement. Gone were the days when I could go to sleep whenever I wanted without a care about tomorrow. I knew now that I had to be on the ball at work the next day, so waking up feeling exhausted was not the best idea when every day brought new knowledge and new experiences.