If you’re preparing for an international work placement, you’re probably excited.
You might also be feeling a little nervous, too. Don’t worry. We’ll be here to support you all the way, just like we’ve supported many young people during their placements abroad. You have a once in a lifetime opportunity ahead of you, and we want you to make the most of it!
“Advice that I could give to future participants is to give it time and not to give up straight away. Your family is still going to be there when you're back. Make sure you give your work placement a go and if there are any problems make sure these are spoken about with your teacher or the organisation you’re supported by. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and there’s so much to see and learn. Just enjoy it because you’ll miss it so much!”
Here are some top tips to help prepare yourself for your placement.
1. Be clear on what you want to learn
Make sure you know what learning goals you want to set for yourself, and how you’re going to achieve them. Discuss with your tutor how you’re going to record your progress (logbooks, photos or videos of you at work are fine). You’ll get a professional reference from the company at the end of your placement – what would you like it to say about you?
2. Be realistic
Your accommodation will have everything you need, but you won’t have all your home comforts. You might also find some aspects of your work placement less exciting. Remember that learning how to cope with this is really important for your personal development. Learning to be more resilient will also help ensure that you get the most out of your placement.
3. Make sure you have all your travel paperwork
In many countries you’re expected to carry official ID by law. If you’re not comfortable carrying your passport around, make a photocopy and keep it with you at all times. Carry your EHIC or other medical insurance in case of emergencies.
4. Research the local area
Check out your neighbourhood and surroundings on Google Maps. Do a virtual tour of local shops, find out about transport and streets, and research things to do on the internet. Check the local weather forecast, and make sure you bring the right clothes for the local climate. This leads on to…
5. Rehearse your packing
You must stick to your baggage allowance, so sit down and make a list of what you really need to take. This might include specific types of clothing and equipment. Measure your cabin baggage, and do a trial run to make sure everything fits.
6. Make a budget, and STICK to it!
Your allowance will cover the basics, but you won’t have much money left over. Phone your bank to ask how much you’ll be charged to withdraw money, and contact your phone provider to ask about overseas charges. Consider buying a pre-paid card, or find out about the best currency exchange rates.
7. Learn some of the language before you go
Don’t expect everyone you meet to speak English. Learning a few words and phrases will help you get the most out of your time abroad. Download language learning apps to your phone, and spend 10 minutes every day practising the language. You’ll have a much better experience if you do.
“This placement has 100% helped me for my future. This is because I now know I definitely want to work in this industry as I had such a good experience whilst on my placement. As well as learning more about the industry, I got to experience what working abroad is like and being away from my family for a long duration.”