Placements can be five days of toe-curling agony, and finger-tapping boredom — or it can set you on the right path for your chosen career. Hanna Lindon finds out the dos and don’ts

If you thought that work experience was just an excuse to slack off from studying, think again. A work placement can be another hoop that you have to jump through to complete your course — or it can be a life-changing experience that sets you up for a career in the equine industry.

From making contacts and collecting glowing references to gathering insight into what different jobs really involve on a day-to-day basis, the opportunities up for grabs are endless. So how can you ensure your first incursion into the world of work is a success?

Take a look at these dos and don’ts to set you on the right track, whether you’re going to work in an office-based equestrian company or on a yard.

DOs

✓ DO Be proactive. Find your own perfect placement rather than relying on your school, university or parents.
✓ DO Be enthusiastic. “The more sulky you are, the less chance you’ll be offered the better and more responsible jobs,” says Peter Morris of the Royal Agricultural University (RAU).
✓ DO Learn to manage your time. Arriving on the dot and getting tasks done within a time limit will impress your placement provider.
✓ DO Take any extra opportunities offered to you. “You never know where it might lead,” explains Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA)’s Kim Offord.

Continued below…

DON’Ts

✗ DON’T Dress inappropriately. Sensible shoes and smart clothing will go down better than a mini skirt and full makeup.
✗ DON’T Hide your mistakes. “If you do something incorrectly then it’s best to notify your placement provider straight away,” adds Peter.
✗ DON’T Put yourself in danger. Talk to your manager about any task that concerns you.
✗ DON’T Worry if the job isn’t for you. At the very least, work experience can be a chance to discover what you don’t want to do.

Questions to ask before you start

  1. What will my typical day involve?
  2. What will my main responsibilities be?
  3. What should I wear?
  4. Is there anything I need to prepare in advance?
  5. What hours will I work?
  6. Who will I report to?
  7. Who will I be working with?
  8. What opportunities are there to gain experience in a particular area?
  9. What can I do to make the most out of this placement?

 Don’t miss the careers and training special in the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine (14 January 2016)