I am standing in Kmart looking in the mirror at the grey “slim fit” trousers I am trying on. I never thought I would buy anything again in my life that did not say “skinny leg” on the tag.
It is work placement next week.
For the past three years I have been content with wearing sloppy gym clothes, or jeans, or an ENSOC BBQ outfit to lectures. It just has not bothered me. Now I am a postgraduate student and that sort of attire just does not really “fly” in my book.
I decide to purchase the trousers from Kmart in the hope that they will instantly transform me into a top-dog when I walk into the newsroom on Monday morning.
It is the night before the first big day at the office; our lecturer has spent two hours telling us all the things to avoid on work placement.
(1) Lock up your Facebook- editors will be all over that. Revealing to potential employers your saucy Saturday night out with the gal pals is definitely not okay.
(2) If you screw up do not make excuses, get on with it.
(3) Be prepared for anything, heels are probably not going to be appropriate if you get sent out to a flood.
(4) Having one too many vinos at Friday night drinks is not okay- pretend that you are driving and only have one glass of wine.
It is not all doom and gloom though, we get a much needed pep talk as well, because most of us are shaking in our boots.
“Be the best, be professional and stand out.”
Right, okay, got it! I am feeling somewhere between excited and on the verge of having a heart attack.
I can barely sleep on Sunday night. My dreams follow a hideous plot-line where I go out for the big scoop, screw it up, and have my name ruined forever in the limelight of print.
Okay it is Monday.
My classmate is picking me up so I do not have to negotiate public transport; he is my comrade-in-arms. We are in this together.
Then we are there on the sixth floor walking out of the elevator, the newsroom is enormous. People are flittering about, telephones ringing, and keyboards pattering.
I sit down at a desk, the computer is not working.
It will take me three days to realise that I have to press the power button on the actual system unit, and not the monitor, to get the computer to turn on.
An email is fired through to me with my first assignment, a story about a “hair gypsy”. My heart is racing; this is my chance to impress.
I get the story up just after midday and boom, it is live. My forehead feels a little glazed over. The first story is off the block.
A week later and I am not even sure where my time in the newsroom disappeared to.
Work placement was exhilarating, terrifying, and at times even deflating. That is the real world though – we all have to pop the bubble of the lecture theatre at some point.
Coming out of university with a degree is a huge achievement, but if you want to swing with the high rollers it is best to have more.
If a work placement or internship is not a part of your course then heck, go out and get one yourself. I had two under my belt before I finished undergrad.
As for an extra push in the right direction, a pair of slick dress pants make you feel like a boss, and let’s be honest, skinny jeans won’t rule forever – bootlegs too were just a phase.