Schools all over the UK encourage their students to take time out during their studies to get work experience. Something that can’t be taught in a classroom. Fifteen and sixteen year olds apply to various businesses and organisations hoping to gain an insight into the world at work, different types of industry and the professional environment. But is it just the students that leave having learnt something at the end of the week? Or can professionals all over learn something from the fresh perspective of the next generation?
Last week, the Bike Club welcomed Olivia into its office for her work experience placement. She came with not only a notebook and a smile, but also with a whole range of ideas and unlimited imagination.
I asked her why she’d chosen to embark on her week away from school here over somewhere else, and she said that “working in a start-up means you really get to see how your actions make a difference to the company, which in itself is very rewarding”.
A Young Person in the Office
They bring a lot more than just energy. Start ups are famous for their role-flexibility and for the opportunities they provide in enabling their employees to develop a whole range of skillsets. Olivia got to try her hand at a number of different tasks last week:
What was your favourite role/job this week?
“I personally found the social media aspect very interesting. I think there is a lot to learn from the way people interact with apps such as Instagram on a psychological level, which is always something I’ve been interested in.”
She’s not wrong. Social media is a huge influencer in workplaces in the 21st century. Young people especially have grown up with it as an already integrated part of their life and, as such, have a keen sense of how to use it. In fact, Olivia believed that one of the unique things she brought to the office during her time here was her “perspective on how the Bike Club is presented online, using the stereotype that my generation are overly present on social media to my advantage!”
How important is to have a young person’s perspective in the workplace?
“I think when your business revolves around products for children it is very important. With any business a range of perspectives is always helpful, understanding how to make your business appealing to all is obviously very helpful."
The New Office Environment
According to Olivia, the most important qualities for working for an office and a start up:
“Being open-minded…When working in a company you have to make multiple decisions. As these decisions usually occur when the company is in an early stage, it’s crucial to listen to everyone’s ideas, and to take time to appreciate all possible ways of doing things because of the huge implications it may have on the future of the company.”
Working for a business usually means working in an office, and Olivia shared something that surprised her the second she walked through the door: “The office environment wasn’t anything like I had expected. I had always imagined offices as a series of individual desks, with minimal interaction. However, in the Bike Club office you get the message that everyone really is part of a team. I really enjoyed the occasional break from working to listen to group conversations that would constantly arise due to the relaxed environment.”
Room for Improvement
Like teachers in school tell you, there’s always room for improvement, and Olivia had a handy tip at the ready:
What’s one thing you would change about TBC/start-ups in general?
"I think with every company, people wish they could remove all the time-consuming mistakes they made along the way, without realising that these were necessary to reach the desired goal. Sometimes we fail to appreciate that learning from our mistakes is a very important step in growth."
The End of the Week
Can you name three things you’ve learnt this week at tBC?
“I think working here has really showed me how my actions affect others in the company and has made me more considerate. When working in any business it’s important to stay positive – something I have had to learn this week. Additionally, it has taught me the importance of planning ahead, whether that be being realistic about tasks and the way in which they be achieved, or realising I’ll probably be very hangry by 12, so should buy my lunch before work…”
What do you most admire about tBC?
“I admire the undeniable passion within their team, they aren't just people selling bikes, it's clear they love what they do and want the best experience for all Bike Club members.”
What would you like to do in the future? Would you like to have your own business one day? What’s the big dream?
“I’ve wanted to be a psychologist for a few years now, working at the Bike Club has further fuelled this dream by showing how amazing being able to help people makes me feel. Having my own business sounds very scary but working in a company has definitely made it seem more achievable.”
What’s one thing you won’t forget from your week at tBC?
“I will undoubtedly never forget some of the funny things that were said in the office, whether it be hearing about Hannah’s neighbour burying a cat in her garden or when Stephen attacked Sean ninja style, with a pen to the armpit…”
What has been the most rewarding thing you accomplished whilst at tBC?
“I think the work I did that ended up on social media. As an avid Instagram & Facebook user it feels very weird to imagine my work seen by hundreds of people, drawing them to the Bike Club.”
Is there anything you’d like to add about your time here? Everyone was so excited you were coming, I’m pretty sure we’ll all be devastated when you go.
“All I’d want to say would be a massive thank you to everyone in the office. I really appreciate the time you’ve all taken to get to know me and effort that has gone into finding tasks for me to do each day. For anyone looking to work here, I can honestly say it has been the best week of education / work in my life so far!”