My work experience placement was the University of Leicester in the Computer Centre. Although I was at a learning establishment the environment was office-like. In the University there are about 750 people employed there, but I only worked with 11 of them. In the Computer Centre I was given a range of tasks which included simple things like fixing floppy disks to more difficult things like working on the help desk trying to fix more complicated problems. For the first week I arrived at work by car and I caught the bus the second week, both weeks I was picked up at 5:00 by car.
Before arriving at the Computer Centre I was feeling extremely nervous because I felt like I was going to an unknown place where I might not have been accepted or liked by my colleagues. I was also quite worried about the hours I had to work as I knew they would be very different to the time spent in school. I hoped that while I was working that everyone would accept me and invite me into their group, and that the work I was given would not push me beyond my limit. Before I started work I made sure all of my things were prepared the night before and I set my alarm to wake me up early, just to make sure I arrived on time. On the first day I arrived at the Computer Centre at 9:20 ready for my meeting at 9:30
While I was on work experience I learnt and developed a lot of skills. The main skill that I developed was my communication skills as I had to spend a lot of time on the help desk, answering phone calls and helping users with various problems. The main skill that I learnt was the art of fixing floppy disks, as a lot of the problems on site were to do with work being saved to a corrupt floppy disk, with users expecting us to fix them. The most pleasing and surprising thing that happened was on the last day, when it was arranged for me to meet a lecturer of Computer Science to explain to me what was involved in the course and what qualifications I should have before I try and enter for the course.
Overall work experience was amazingly enjoyable. It was a very different time from school and gave me an insight into the working world. I enjoyed it most of all because the people were friendly and inviting and the tasks were taxing enough without being over complicated. This also gave me an insight into IT and the university and has not discouraged me from the University or the industry.
I did not have any difficulties as such, but the most complicated thing of the whole two weeks was working on the help desk in the Computer Centre. This was where the most complicated problems were handed to and they included problems involving Macs and laptops, but luckily enough I managed to overcome these with the help of the team. The most interesting thing about work experience was the help desk in the library. This was the most fun thing on the placement as I got to work with the students in helping them with more simple problems, which included getting the printer to work and bringing back their work which they had managed to delete and not save. That thing that let the placement down the most was the planning of it all, some days I was told that I could do things and others I carried on with an ongoing project, but this was not a big deal and did not affect the atmosphere of the experience.
I would say that I got on well with everyone I worked with in the two weeks I spent at the University. Most of the people were still quite young and understood my position, relating to their own work experience, and trying to make it better for myself. The atmosphere in the machine room (where I spent a lot of time) was relaxed and this helped me to settle in. Everyone knew when to be fun and when to be serious and this lightened up the two weeks.
If I was to go on work experience again I would like to return to the University in the Computer Centre. I think this because it was very enjoyable with enough interesting work to keep me occupied. It was also a very friendly environment that I do not think I could find anywhere else in any other place. In my opinion I think this would be a good place to send someone that is interested in all aspects of IT, as it is educational and relaxed, which means that you can take more of the information in that you are told.
Work experience has not helped me in my career decision, as I already knew that I wanted to work in the IT industry, but it has help enforce my decision and I would still like to pursue this option further. At the university there are not actually any jobs available for school leavers, as the positions are filled by post-graduates and long time professionals. At the University they like to have professional people with knowledge of what they are doing working for them.
This type of job has many advantages, as the way the world is going every aspect of IT will be needed soon in almost every company. The pay is also very high if you decide to specialise in something specific or lead a team of professionals. Although the jobs have their high points they also have disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is the amount of courses on offer, as there are thousands, each relating to specific things, and this can cause problems when looking to go into a wide area.
Looking back on work experience I feel very pleased with myself as I went into an unknown environment and came out with a wider view of what happens in the working world. I feel that I made the most of the opportunities I was offered as I did what I was told and took it that little bit further, giving myself an edge. I feel proud of the work I produced and my attitude towards it, and I hope these shows in my reference from my supervisors and work placement provider.
The only thing that I would like to have done differently would have been the time I arrived for work, somehow I always managed to be early and this made my day slightly longer, but this was not a big problem as I could cope with it. On this whole experience I feel that I learnt a lot about myself including the fact that I am quite a good active speaker and listener and that I should not doubt my skills in future. In general I learnt that the world of work can be very fun and rewarding if you do the right thing at the right time. I feel that the whole experience was worth while and I would hope to do it again sometime as I feel I could further my education and eventual employment in this sector of the working world.