My Work Placement Experience
Statistics show that military spouses are unemployed at four times the rate of civilians and those military spouses seeking work are unemployed for an average of four months every time they move. These statistics are the lived reality of many military spouses in the UK and it is one I closely identify with.
Earlier this year I found myself having to undergo yet another round of job hunt as my family and I underwent the process of transition into civilian life after my husband left the Royal Navy. The opportunity for a three-month work placement into the financial sector by RV1 came at an opportune time and I took a leap of faith and applied. Within weeks we were discussing tentative starting dates and getting ready to get back into the workforce, and by the second month I had secured a paid work contract.
I make this process sound too easy, but the fact of the matter is that I had a lot of help along the way. From the Director of RV1 who encouraged me and kept me updated along the way, to the management and staff of the Bank in London that I was placed with, who welcomed me into their fold, every process in the chain just fell into place and I share with you below some of the things I have learnt from this experience.
There’s help out there.
I believe that it is important for every military spouse or ex-service personnel seeking work to know that there are organisations and individuals outside the military who want to see us succeed and will provide the platform for us to do so. For me, this organisation was RV1. They worked in collaboration with the Bank in London to provide me this opportunity and they gave the necessary advice and guidance to help me get through the internship period. It helped greatly to know that there were people who wanted me to do well.
More importantly, seeking help does not stop once you get your foot through the door. As I found out through this work placement, it is imperative to seek assistance and be willing to be taught because the steep learning curve would be insurmountable otherwise. So, reach out and ask for help.
Signing up for work placements requires so much commitment. It’s easy going to work knowing you will be paid, but when it’s done for some intangible reward that may or may not translate into a job offer, the commitment required is so much greater.
I recommend weighing the costs before you commit yourself to undertaking such work placements. The advantages of committing to work placements are huge but if there is no commitment then we don’t do such opportunities justice. I was determined to give my best in the 3 months I had because I knew that there were things that could be learnt and improved on that my M.Sc. had not taught me.
Enjoy the experience
Finally, for work placements to be truly effective they must be engaging and enjoyable. The level of engagement may be largely determined by the organisation you are doing your work placement in but the enjoyment of it is within our control. Simple things like arriving to work with a positive mind set, doing the most mind-numbing task with cheerfulness or getting to know your colleagues all contribute towards this. Work experience after all is not only about understanding accounts and spreadsheets or knowing how to use the office scanner. It is about mucking in, cheering on and working out; all things the military fraternity know too well.
So, this has been my experience so far and I hope that whoever reads this may be inspired to take the leap like I did. At first, I weighed the costs but now I am finding out that I am still reaping the rewards thanks to all the help that I have been given.