What makes work experience placements win–win?

Sarah and Beatrice from promotional gifts company BX Merchandise

By Beatrice Mittawa, BX Merchandise Administrator and Youth Programme Coordinator

At BX Merchandise we believe work experience is at the heart of nurturing the future generation in business. So, when Workfinder invited us to its speed networking event inspired by Ada Lovelace – the woman credited with creating the world’s first computer algorithm in 1837 – we couldn’t resist. 

And it was their inspirational answers to our qualifying questions – what was the first thing you bought with your own money? And, who do you most admire? ­– that made sixth formers Ema and Mary the standout candidates of the day. Within weeks, we welcomed them into our south London-based office to discover opportunities in the promotional gift industry and explore the working world on their terms.

Getting down to work

We devised a mix of duties and projects including assignments vital to marketing and social media campaigns of our promotional gifts and branded products, as well as elements of our ongoing digital strategy. The pair photographed and edited images and came up with catchy captions for our Instagram account. They penned tweets and created a newsletter to announce the launch of our brand-new website. 

For some tasks they were shadowed by BX Merchandise colleagues, while others required them to work towards consensus together – real life working relationships just like they will in their future careers. Both agreed we gave them opportunities to show their initiative. Of course, we wanted them to be themselves with us – but we wanted to see the best version of themselves that they possibly could be. 

Ema and Mary said they picked up valuable skills and knowledge of how a busy office and business works. An appreciation of the importance of time-management and insight into the role of social media in modern day business were also noted in end-of-week self-appraisals. 

We saw them pick up a mix of life skills, professionalism and experience in roles vital to the success of business today. And when Ema said the experience had boosted her intent to establish a startup of her own, we got excited and thought of how BX Merchandise might help her promote whatever business that became with promotional gift solutions! 

She’ll need the insight into keeping track of finances, brand recognition tactics and social media as advertising insight she has gleaned with us. We’re very happy we’ve helped Ema envision a ‘female founder’ future for herself. She is very welcome Ema. Good luck with it Ema!

Work experience: a two-way process

Mary and Ema aren’t the first work experience participants to sample a working life at BX HQ, and they won’t be the last. Our work experience opportunities are our contribution to the future workforce’s growth, a way to help young people gain confidence and enhance their knowledge. 

Myself and BX Merchandise BAME female founder Sarah Sayed see elements of our younger selves in our work experience applicants. Having them join our team provides valuable insight into the next generation of BX Merchandise customers and colleagues. We get to see their passion and aspiration up close, and it inspires us. 

A work experience scheme like this offers so much more to a business than a mere way to tick off tasks on an ever-expanding to-do list – lists which exist by necessity in every ambitious promotional gift business! 

And while I’m not here to spill all of what BX Merchandise got from this two-way encounter – that’s all locked in our trade secrets cabinet now – I will say you should sign your company up to Workfinder today. Extend a welcoming hand to work experience students and you will be surprised at what your company can learn from it too!