Krisi: 8 tips to make the most of your prac placement
Krisi is studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), is a budding clinical psychologist and a parent. She enjoys jogging, singing in the car and chasing her dreams.
If you’re getting ready to go out on your first prac placement at the moment, don’t worry. It’s completely normal to feel nervous if you don’t know exactly what to expect. But as someone who has been through this experience several times now, I recommend you get excited! It’s time to get out in the world and gain hands on experience, get a feel for how your knowledge relates to the workplace, develop some awesome skills and plump up that résumé of yours.
During the various prac placements I’ve completed over the years, I jotted down some of the things I found helpful and wanted to remember. If you are about to start your first prac, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, these 8 tips will help you before, during and after your prac placement:
Before starting prac
1. Know the expected learning outcomes of your prac placement before you start. During your placement, work with your course lecturer and placement organisation to achieve them and develop your skills and knowledge. Don’t fall into the trap of being a bystander during this valuable opportunity; make the most of it. You shouldn’t just be making coffee!
2. Understand the terms of each particular placement. Every organisation and placement is different and there are different expectations about the days, times and hours you are expected to be in attendance, so make sure you know what these are before you start your placement.
During your placement
3. Even though you’re a student, it is still important to be professional, especially if your university, lecturer or a co-ordinator have organised your placement for you. Do your university proud and treat this experience as the professional you are.
4. Ask questions. Prac placements are your opportunity to gain valuable workplace knowledge and gain context for all of your theoretical knowledge. Don’t be shy. Ask questions that will help to increase your knowledge about the industry you are planning to go into.
5. Don’t forget to ask for support from your loved-ones. Because you generally still have to attend classes, complete assignments and go to your paying job while you attend prac, you will probably find yourself a bit strapped for time. If this is the case and you find you’ve got a bit too much on your plate, ask your family or partner to help out by doing some of your chores such as by making dinner or doing the laundry. Even just letting them know you’re going to be under the pump for a while will help them understand why you might be snappy at times, or not able to hang out with them as much.
6. Enjoy your experience. Prac is a great opportunity to develop professional relationships and broaden your network within the industry. As they say, it’s what you know AND who you know that will help you get that job, so check out these 10 networking tips.
7. Once you have completed your prac placement, reflect on your experiences. Take this opportunity to sit back and see exactly what you have been able to achieve as a result of your industry experience and what you have learned. This is also a good time to think about what you want to change going into your next prac placement.
8. Have a celebration and reward yourself for all of your hard work during your prac. I know it probably wasn’t easy. Most of us have study, work, families and friends we need to strategically work around in order to participate in and achieve this goal, so well done, you deserve to relax now it’s over!
As someone who has successfully completed many pracs, I’ve found these tips have helped me prepare for, and make the most of, my prac placements. Embrace prac as the exciting learning opportunity it is, and you will reap the rewards, both at uni and during your career.
Looking for more tips to help you successfully juggle study with your prac placement? Alice explains why it’s important to prepare.