Work Issues

Topics in this section

Future Worries

If the issue is about whether your friend is in the right course then refer to the section (check out the Issues with a particular course section).

Are they distressed about work experience/ electives/ placements?

Not knowing how to approach an employer (including feeling nervous, anxious, unprepared, don’t know what to say)

  • You may be able to help your friend edit a letter to a potential employer. Tertiary institutions may have advisers who can support students with written work and you can assist in locating these services.
  • Help them to plan the phone contact with a potential employer, for example, write down what they need to ask and have them practise with you.

Rejection of applications for work experience/electives

  • Remind them that they are not alone and that sometimes it might take several letters or phone calls.
  • Remind them that it is not a personal rejection and that many others factors influence the employers decision, e.g. they don’t have the supervisory capacity at the time.
  • A rejection now doesn’t mean that they may not consider employing them at a later stage.
  • Remind them that it is not a reflection on their academic performance and personal qualities.

Not performing in the job

  • Reassure them that they are still in training, they are a novice, and this is an educational experience. It is more about seeing what happens on a day to day basis in the workplace.
  • It is also about identifying people in the workplace that are student friendly and ignoring the non-student friendly work colleagues.

Boys on Beach

Lack of confidence when being interviewed for a placement

  • Your friend should be encouraged to view this as an opportunity to develop their interviewing skills. It takes practice and the more opportunities the better you can get at this. You can help each other. Maybe find some typical interview questions (there are lots on the web) and use this as a starting point.
  • Sometimes tertiary institutions run courses on interviewing skills and interviewing techniques which can be helpful.
  • Often organisations will have ‘tips for interview / job applications’ on their website. Check these out and see what a potential employer is seeking.
  • Suggest to your friend that they find out about the organisation, from their website, before they go to the interview. They need to find out who is interviewing them, maybe there will be a picture on the website.

Feeling like competing with colleagues for placements

  • Everyone is feeling the same pressure here so they are not alone on this. If they talk to others they may find they all feel the same and it is not about competition but that there are simply not enough places.
  • Your friend could consider placements/ work experience in organisations which are not typically used by students or the institutions. Perhaps think about organisations around where you live, look them up online and see if any can provide you with some experience.
  • They can also talk to family, friends or other social networks, as often they have contacts that can lead to a placement.

Are they worried about how to go about getting a job?

  • Building a CV is important and getting tips on how to do that. Maybe you can offer to read through and provide some feedback for your friend.
  • There is an art to writing job applications. Learning how to do that well in advance can reduce some worry. They can start practising even before they have found a job they want to apply for. There are lots of tips on the web about how to do this and remember to remind them to look at the websites of organisations that they are interested in as there are often tips listed. It is not a good idea to leave it until the last minute.

Are they worried about what are their career choices?

  • It is not uncommon for people to get more anxious near the end of their educational training about whether they have made the right decision. This is really anxiety about the transition into the workforce from being a student. Allow them to express the anxiety and fears, they are valid and common.
  • Remind them that it is not uncommon to change careers and you don’t have to necessarily stay on the same career path that you are training in now. People reconsider their options at various points in their working life.
  • Consider Career Advisors at your institution.
  • Sometimes doing some voluntary work in their chosen area can help them decide on the options within that profession.
  • Speaking to friends/family/ social networks about their work can give you a better idea of what interest you.