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Sixth Form student Sam Powell shares an invaluable insight into the world of work experience during his time at Benchmark HQ.
For every teen Work Experience (WE) is a daunting beast, existing only to spoil ones blissful holidays. Combined with parents constantly nagging about the benefits and bonuses makes it only less appealing. There are of course the unlucky ones who are marched into grey building after grey building, sweat palms clutching fourth-hand briefcases, trying desperately to mask the fear too common voice cracks. After the third coffee run in an hour, most will be pondering whether any future career is worth this perpetual torture...
This is the part where Benchmark step up to the plate with a welcoming smile and open arms to change how things are done. As with their candidates, placements are not just numbers on a page to improve PR and ward off insistent contacts with 'wonderful children'. The right amount of responsibility and importance is crucial to a successful experience; avoiding the pitfalls of throwing someone in at the deep end and seeing them floundering around is very hard. For me Benchmark has achieved this and then some giving me a great platform to experience the work place!
Over my time here I feel very much like I've been a useful part of a well-oiled machine, doing tasks that are obviously helping the team effort with visible results. Another very encouraging aspect of work experience at Benchmark is that no one seems to be above anyone else, as everyone is happy to make tea, fetch water or joke about someone's belief that we've never set foot on the moon. The attitude of everyone is impressively positive, allowing an inspiring air to reign supreme. It is hard to believe after an experience like this how anyone could want to work in anything other than this atmosphere.
I don't want to give too much of a fairy-tale impression however; a necessary part of my work experience has been (as the name suggests) the experience of work and a working environment. There have been challenges with no obvious solution, the hours are so much longer than anyone my age would be used to and certain tasks need to be done for others to continue. Independence is an exceedingly important skill and Benchmark grant enough freedom during W.E for me to be given responsibilities in the role, giving a much greater sense of accomplishment. Yet, coupled with this, there is always a helping hand to pull you out of the mire and divulge the 'real way' to get it done. Once both options are available then it's very hard to get stuck on a task, plus as a result you feel challenged and have a sense of achievement.
Overall my time here has been very interesting, useful and, most importantly, enjoyable. Work Experience at Benchmark has not been simply something to put on my CV, but a true experience of the environment, the people and the problems giving me a much better view of the world of work and all that it contaains