Everyone has to start somewhere

ABC/Life Support – Creative solutions to suit any brief
July 28, 2015
Macmillan 25 September 2015
September 23, 2015

Everyone has to start somewhere

At Victoire we know the importance of learning. We are always happy to help others to learn, and so when it comes to offering students work experience placements, we try to help as much as we can. We’ve had several students here at Victoire over the years, and we try to help them get as much as possible out of the experience.

Our students usually come from local schools, such as Swavesey, St Ivo or Ramsey Abbey, and someone from the school visits us first to make sure we are a safe employer. Although students are usually only 15 or 16 years old, we try to give them a real flavour of working life in the one or two weeks they are with us, from giving them a proper “new employee” interview and induction to letting them try out actual processes alongside our staff.

Some students have a relevant career in mind, like graphic design, printing or publishing, but some have yet to decide.  Most have no prior knowledge of design or print when they come to us. They get a chance to work across all our departments, including design, digital print, litho print, finishing and of course, admin. They are always supervised, and they follow a detailed timetable.

We usually start them off in the studio and get them to create something they want to print – a card, leaflet, DVD or CD cover – and then follow their job through all the departments to see how it’s done. It’s a big learning curve for them, being in an adult, working environment all the time. Sometimes it’s a bit of a shock to the system, but sometimes they’re pleasantly surprised at how much fun it can be!

Ashton did her work experience with us three years ago when she was just 15, and here’s what she has to say about her time with us:

“During my time at Victoire Press I worked within all the departments and witnessed the printing process from start to finish. I very much enjoyed working within the design studio and after being shown some of the work done by their design team I was helped to create a DVD case. I also enjoyed working in the ink printing department as the process used within the department was very interesting to learn. All the staff at Victoire were extremely friendly and welcoming. Each person was able to help me understand their role within the company and showed me how to do each job. I enjoyed being in a real workplace and working alongside the other members of staff as well as keeping up the standards expected of the other employees.”

Laura who came to us over the summer to get some experience before starting at university said:

“I worked mostly in the design studio, assisting on various projects. I loved that I got to use my artistic side, and to learn and develop graphic based skills prior to heading off to university to complete a photography degree. I was using new programs, getting a glimpse into a world I had never been a part of previously.

I really enjoyed my time there, the staff were friendly & helpful & I was given opportunities to lead on projects, not just helping out other staff. There was a lot of learning involved as well which was great. It helped me gain a lot more confidence than I would have had otherwise!”

Not all companies like taking on work experience students, seeing it as more time-consuming than helpful. But we believe in opportunities for young people, and we want to offer help and experience where we can. Getting real life experience in a workplace can not only give students a better idea of potential career paths, but also invaluable insight into behaviour and attitudes in the workplace.

So here are our top tips for getting the most out of the work experience experience!

–    Plan the student’s time. Create a timetable so everyone knows when they are scheduled to have the student with them so there are no surprises.
–    Share the time between lots of people and departments. It stops the student getting bored, offers more chance to learn, and doesn’t take up too much of any one individual’s valuable time.
–    Give them real jobs to do. The satisfaction they will get from achieving something real and tangible will stay with them a long time.
–    Don’t assume they know. Explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and welcome questions.
–    Ask for their ideas and suggestions. It never hurts to get a fresh perspective.
–    Have a bit of fun. Most of us enjoy our work, so show students that “work” can also be a lot of fun! After all, we don’t want to put them off for life, do we?