The biggest issue in Agency Life is how a student working with an employer should be managed. I think it’s useful to refer to the outcomes that students work towards in the programme.
On successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Operate professionally within the context of a service agency environment
- Reflect on learning from professional experience
- Self-organize workloads within the context of a flexible working service environment
- Undertake appropriate activity that leads to the achievement of a creative or technical brief
- Develop a sustainable view of the flexible job role in the 21st Century
So – how can you help?
What activity do you think will develop professionalism within the student? What do you do with your own staff? How do you get them to adapt to and embrace your organisation’s culture? We would suggest that formally inducting students is a good idea if you do it for other staff – if you don’t have a formal process, what do you do to ‘bring someone in’?
How do you get your staff to learn? Do you have any formal training? What approach to professional development do you provide to people? When someone arrives and they don’t know a specific process or a piece of software? What training do people need immediately?
We want our students to become “self-organizing” which means they will inevitably make mistakes in organisation – what support can you provide to a young person doing it for the fist time in their life (in all probability)?
Many of our young people on this programme have never, EVER worked before. Those who have worked, or who are working, will have done so in the environments which many of us experienced as young people – in shops, bars and clubs – so the office environment will be relatively alien. Dealing with a £10k month spend client is very different to serving beer at 2am in a club. Simple things like “arriving at or before 9am” will prove a challenge for some people, so think about how you can manage that issue.
For us, there are a few of things you can do that make this a rewarding experience.
Be very clear and upfront with your expectations – on literally everything
Lead by example
Show people how to do something, watch them do it, observe gradually improving behaviour, rectify any fault
Micro-manage upfront then gradually allow greater (‘creative’) freedom
Feedback – always – positive and critical
We don’t want to teach you how to suck eggs but we think this is a good place to start. If you’re an Agency Life employer right now, we’d appreciate (in comments below) any good tips you have to share with future employers – things you wish you’d done, things you know have worked and – what doesn’t work?