Students and graduates offer advice, tips for field placements

Are you starting a field placement? Feeling a little nervous?

We asked students and recent graduates to offer some advice and tips for success when it comes to field placements.

We also asked them about specific skills they learned during their placement and how they’d handle one particular workplace situation—not being able to meet a deadline.

Here’s what they had to say:

 Business student Talha Asif_150x100Talha Asif

Program: Digital Media Marketing

Field placement: George Brown College Marketing and Communications

Three tips for students starting a field placement:

  1. Make a list of skills/experience you want to acquire during your work term and share these with your manager; this way your manager can help you get the most out of your opportunity. Review your list of skills weekly to make sure you are following through – times flies by in a new role!

  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. This what practical experience is all about. Ask questions if you're unsure, and remind yourself that stepping outside your comfort zone is where the best learning happens. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable and you will learn a lot!

  3. Invest time in co-workers. They have a wealth of knowledge and career advice they can impart but it is up to you to take the initiative to ask for it. Work hours may not be an ideal time but even a quick chat during coffee is a great opportunity. LinkedIn is also a great way to keep in touch after your work term is completed.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

I have learned to use social media tools to monitor activity as well as create paid online advertising in various social media outlets. This, along with my exposure to working on multiple projects simultaneously, has given me a deeper understanding of how social media strategies change based on your objective (event promotion, brand engagement, acquisition, data capture, etc.).

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you could not complete the work on time, how did you respond?

I believe communication is most important when you are managing multiple deadlines. These situations can be improved by regular feedback and status updates with your manager. If certain projects are lagging behind, you can address it earlier and re-examine what deadlines are flexible or change what tasks you are prioritizing based on importance.


Graphic Design student Meaghan Chapin_150x100Meaghan Chapin

Program: Graphic Design

Field placement: The Mike Agency

Three tips for students starting a field placement:

  1. This is your first appearance in the real world. Remember to always remain professional and courteous.
  2. Ask questions. It’s normal to be nervous. No one expects you to already know everything. They know you’re a student and assume you will have questions.
  3. Network. This is a great opportunity to build professional relationships. Always make sure to grab a business card or an email address whenever you can so you can touch base later.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s an old line but a good one. I was reminded of this many times during my placement. You’ll do it even better the second time and it will be so worth it.

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you could not complete the work on time, how did you respond?

Be open and honest with your supervisor. If you are falling behind, speak up. It’s the only way you can get help.


Construction student Magdalena Gradecka_150x100Magdalena Gradecka

Program: Bachelor of Technology (Construction Management)

Field placement: George Brown College

Three tips for students starting a field placement:

  1. Motivate yourself, take initiative, stay focused, be critical, give people your full attention, be organized, and do your best. “Do it, there is no try!”
  2. Always listen to your supervisor and colleagues and act professionally.
  3. Take criticism gracefully and mentor new employees and younger workers.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

My experience as a purchasing estimator allowed me to develop superior conflict resolution skills as well as strong judgment and analytical and managerial skills.

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you couldn’t complete the work on time, how did you respond?

It is critical to construct a clear execution plan, be organized and analytical, break down the time required for each deliverable, define clear objectives, manage time accordingly and start working on the specific projects and assignments the same day they are assigned to complete every project successfully and on time and budget.


Health Sciences student Marina Jiujias_150x100Marina Jiujias

Program: Behavioural Science Technology (Intensive)

Field placement:Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Three tips for students starting a field placement:

  1. Research your company or agency before the first day. Not only does this make you appear prepared and professional to your new supervisor, but also having some background information about your company helps to alleviate feelings of nervousness upon entering a new and unfamiliar work environment.
     
  2. Try not to limit yourself to just getting to know your direct supervisor or the people that will be directly relevant to your placement project. Placements are, above all else, an opportunity for you to soak up any experience you can. By taking any available opportunity for learning or getting to know a colleague in a different discipline, you can set yourself up to get a thoroughly diverse experience out of your placement.
     
  3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! No one expects students to know everything fresh out of classes. Trust the process of practical experience and remember that making mistakes and learning from them is far more valuable than not trying something wholeheartedly just because it makes you uncomfortable.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

I have learned a great deal about working on a multidisciplinary team and the challenges that sometimes come with having many great people collaborating on an issue from various different scopes of practice.

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you could not complete the work on time, how did you respond?

I always like to keep an agenda and spread out goals for each task per day so multiple deadlines don’t feel as daunting. If things add up and I start to feel like everything won’t be finished to the best of my ability, I would approach my agency and/or college supervisor about my concerns. Establishing a good relationship and keeping those lines of communication open are so important when situations like that arise. Oftentimes simply discussing expectations and possible flexibility with certain tasks can help to relieve stress significantly. I would approach my supervisors with my concern early.


Culinary student Kelly-Anne KerriganKelly-Anne Kerrigan

Program: Culinary Management Nutrition

Field placement: ELLICSR – Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

What are 3 tips you would give students entering your field placement?

  1. Be professional, be open minded and communicate with your supervisor.

  2. Come out of your comfort zone and be open minded. If you are offered a task that isn’t something you would normally do or you’re nervous about, take a risk and do it anyways. Building your resume and gaining new experience is an important part of your field placement.

  3. Communicate with your supervisor so they know what you want to learn.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

During my placement I had the great opportunity of doing a live cooking demonstration, which gave me an opportunity to practice my communication skills in front of a large group of people. I enjoyed it and plan on incorporating cooking demonstrations into my future career. I believe that good communication skills are essential in any career and I will continue to practice this throughout my schooling and future career. I also had the chance to practice recipe development and cooking skills that are focused towards specific dietary requirements.

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you could not complete the work on time, how would you respond?

If I had multiple tasks and deadlines that I felt I could not complete I would talk to my supervisor in a professional manner.



Community Services student Katie Yumol_150x100Katie Yumol

Program: Career and Work Counselling

Field placement: St. Stephen’s Employment and Training Centre (St. Stephen’s House)

Three tips for students starting a field placement:

  1. Take initiative. Create opportunities where you can use your skills to help your colleagues and enhance the services of your organization.
     
  2. Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside your comfort zone. If you are not confident about a task, ask first then debrief afterwards.
     
  3. Be open to feedback - it is one of the best ways to improve your skills.

What skills did you learn during your field placement?

I learned to merge my previous design background into my new career as an employment advisor. I learned to design one-on-one and group learning activities that build clients’ confidence in themselves, their job search skills, and their ability to find meaningful work.

If you had multiple tasks/deadlines and felt you could not complete the work on time, how did you respond?

First, I informed my supervisor of the additional time I needed to complete the tasks. Then, I provided her with a list of outstanding tasks, estimated completion time, and possible solutions that can help accomplish my tasks. We then collaborated on an action plan that helped us complete the remaining tasks more effectively.