Simply better work experience July 2010

Simply better work experience July 2010

Simon BeltSimon Belt, a web and computer support consultant, was asked by New Mills School Business and Enterprise College to provide work experience in July 2010 to school students so they could gain practical experience of writing articles for publications. As it is difficult for young people to gain commercial experience of journalism and writing for the web, I was more than happy to help them prepare and write-up some work for the New Mills Web on local businesses and organisations by way of them doing work experience.


Here's a timeline summary of what they did and achieved. Wish I'd have got them to work on my own website now..


Week 1 - Monday

Started with trying to work out how much the school students appreciated the importance of the written word and structuring of content by asking them to evaluate three websites I'm responsible for that represent three different stages of technical and content development - the New Mills Web, the New Mills Golf Club and the Manchester Salon. Comments made about the websites were:

New Mills Web: Colours are a little pale and lack drama, generally lacking excitement and somewhat confused structure. Photo is a little stretched and should have a better quality image as masthead, ideally changing on different pages. Lacks appeal for young people

New Mills Golf Club: Reasonably well structured, good use of rotating photos to give a full view of the course, event write-ups give a good flavour of variety at the club. History section very useful. Would be good to have an open day for kids to also draw parents in. Local photographers could display their work on the website improving the quality of pictures on the site and promoting their work in the process. Be good to have better write-up and photos of food on offer. Coming out of the discussion on marketing was the need to combine online with offline marketing like street signs. 

Manchester Salon: Although wide range of topics of discussion displayed, it may be a little difficult for some to understand it was promoting public discussions. Missed opportunity to have businesses like bookshops advertise on the site. Could include a forum for discussion online. Search bar should be more obvious, and should include photos of previous discussions. The site should be clearer as to what it is about, and why people go - to develop better understanding of society.

In the afternoon, the students went to speak to Janet Winter about her Breathing Remedies business, coming back to start the write-up of her business.


Week 1 - Tuesday

Finishing the write-up of Breathing Remedies article and clarification of what they wanted to get from the two weeks of work experience with the early departure of one student who was included in this work experience for the wrong reasons. In the afternoon, the students visited St James Chapel and then Panache hair studio to interview the people there for more articles.


Week 1 - Wednesday

Beginning the write-up of St James Arts Centre and Panache articles, and visit to Tim Hensel the photographer to interview him for an article about his business. Introduced the notion of editing and re-working articles to improve their structure, content and flow which was received with some drama - the questioning of 'the authentic voice' was a very helpful experience in beginning to think through how to write for the audience rather than the writer.


Week 1 - Thursday

Visit by Dave Porter, the PR and Media specialist to help the students rework a draft article on the St James Arts project into something that might be more likely to getting some press coverage through a Press Release, which was then sent out by the students to various printed and audio / visual media. Students source and arrange to borrow digital still image camera and video camera for use at Golf Club on Friday.


Molly Wheeldon on work experience 2010

Week 1 - Friday

Checking the write-ups of articles with the businesses being written about, to correct any erroneous or misleading information. Visit to New Mills Golf Club to report on their Charity Day. Interviews regarding the charity day in memory of a cherished friend of many at the club introduces more difficult subject matter for the students beyond a more narrow business agenda. Many of the assumptions of a gulf between the generations are well and truly challenged by the end of this hectic week whilst the confidence of students to interact as equals in the world of work and adults grows dramatically.


When the students said they enjoyed their challenging work reporting on the Charity Day at the Golf Club (admittedly whilst I played in the competition), I didn't realise until I saw the photographic evidence how they were interpreting the phrase 'getting an article to leap out at you'.


Week 2 - Monday

The school students assertion of their growing independence asserts itself as they arrange to help each other download and edit the video and photos of the Golf Club Charity Day in the school media lab, informing their employer of this course of action, duly producing DVD of their endeavours. Progressed write-up of the Golf Club experience and finishing other articles whilst employer (such an old man) was educated on what good music sounds like, zzz..... I must admit though I did eventually take to that catchy Justin Bieber track 'Somebody to love Remix' ft. Usher, oh the power of 'education' through repetition!


Week 2 - Tuesday

Students visit Cavendish Bridal House, where a friend of theirs is doing work experience themselves, for their first interview with a business they completely selected and arranged themselves. The story telling side of journalism and marketing really starts to come together with ideas and write-up for this article. As the confidence and accomplishments of the students grew, I found myself making more tea and coffee and having less made for me - I suppose that counts as success, and I did manage to retain respect for about a week!


Week 2 - Wednesday

Back out of their comfort zone, the students visit a motor mechanics, Autotech in Whaley Bridge, to conduct an interview with Rick on a business they know nothing about and didn't really want to know anything about, though coped well and take on the challenge. Although the students were looking to relax as they began winding down out of their work experience I arrange yet another challenge for them - visit the New Mills Volunteer Centre and interview the centre manager and work out how the school could help the centre more.


Week 2 - Thursday

As the last day was to be taken up with a half day turnaround of interview and write-up, today was taken up with tidying all the articles written to date and dealing with any issues that need resolving before the last day.


Week 2 - Friday

Visit to the New Mills Volunteer Centre and interview with Dorothy Scapens, followed by write-up in afternoon. Knew I'd miss the students when they returned to school, but still felt able to let them go home early. Work experience tailored to utilise and develop the talents of school students can be quite time consuming but is also very rewarding in testing out that side of your business operation to see that it is organised to maximise the impact your business is making. Great example of the interconnected world we live in when Dorothy mentioned that her son worked as a journalised and it turned out to be one of the journalists Dave Porter got the students to Email their Press Release to!


Phew, calm, quiet, and now just Chillin' 2k10.

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