I’m running some workshops at a university this week to prepare students for their work placements. One of the things students can do before their first day is research their employer in more depth. You arrive with a better understanding of what is important to that organisation. Students can use the information to build relationships more quickly and identify with the employer where they can add value.

Questions to explore

work placementsFind the answers to these common questions to give yourself an advantage when starting work placements or internships:

  1. What is the story of this organisation?
  2. What are its stated values?
  3. What is the name of the person who owns or runs the organisation?
  4. What services or products does it provide?
  5. Who are its main users or customers?
  6. What are the benefits for users or customers?
  7. What significant successes has the employer had?
  8. Who are its main competitors?
  9. What are the main challenges in this industry or sector?
  10. What do other people (customers, competitors, employees) say about them?

Where to look

  • Company website: latest news, press releases, products and services, awards, testimonials, ‘about us’, our values.
  • Employer’s social media accounts: follow, comment on posts, say hello.
  • LinkedIn: profiles of the company/people who work there (what keywords do they use?) and discussion groups (what are the hot topics?)
  • Employee reviews: gives you clues as to the real culture.
  • Industry or sector news: relevant websites (including professional institutions), online newsletters, magazines and newspapers, social media.
  • Use PESTLE: what is happening and coming up that affects your employer?
  1. Politics (policies, white papers)work placements
  2. Economics (funding, cutbacks, profit)
  3. Social (demographics, diversity)
  4. Technology (new tools, impact on ways of working)
  5. Legal (laws, regulations)
  6. Environment (green energy, recycling, community) or Education (training, learning, qualifications)

Employers want to see budding professionals on their work placements or internships. Be proactive and show your genuine interest in the organisation. Put in the upfront effort to do your research – you will learn stuff and shape perceptions of you.