Starting out with a start-up. Five things to know when starting out in the workplace
This summer I began a paid internship with Curious Health. It can be really challenging as a young person and recent graduate to find, and make the most of, internship opportunities. This is a new chapter in your story, and you want to get it right. Naturally exploring new and unknown opportunities is intimidating, but it is also exciting. Working at Curious Health has been an invaluable experience for me. It has given me insights into a range of different areas and aspects of work. I have discovered a lot and am sure that I will use many of these learnings throughout my career. Here are some of the top tips I have learnt that could be valuable to other young people entering PR for the first time…
1. Ask questions
Asking questions is one of the most important things for the team at Curious Health. It might feel intimidating to always be asking questions, particularly in your first days, but remember, no question is a stupid one. We even dedicated a recent blog post to the subject of why and how it can improve our daily working lives. This open and understanding attitude has created such a great atmosphere for me as a new starter!
2. If you have an interest, say!
I have had a long-standing personal interest in sustainability hence I wanted to work somewhere with aspirations to make a positive impact in this area. I very quickly understood that Curious Health was committed to researching, understanding and prioritising sustainability so at one of our first team meetings I shared my interest in this. Off the back of this we had conversations on how best to go forward to make a difference in the way we operated and how we interacted with our clients. We asked ourselves questions such as ‘what makes a good business?’ ‘how do we define good in our business?’ These conversations allowed me to combine my university experience with this practical business experience.
If I had not mentioned my interest in sustainability, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do some of this thought-provoking work. This applies to all areas – if there is a project you want to get involved in, then say!
3. Flexible work – tell people what works for you
Discuss with your team their preferred working styles; some like office working whilst others have adopted the post-pandemic legacy of flexible or fully remote work. Whilst not all companies are able to offer people the same levels of flexibility, it is always worth having a conversation around what works for you. This is especially true if the changes you want to make are small (logging on and off 15 minutes earlier than standard hours, for example).
I soon realised how everyone works very differently to achieve the same goal. Living outside of London, it was important for me to seek an employer who values and promotes flexible working within its company ethos. Everyone at Curious Health works in a way that means they can get things done most effectively for them, benefitting not only their personal lives but improving their professional output too. It has been encouraging to see an employer put flexible working into practice – at Curious Heath it’s okay to do what works for you! When starting a new job, question what works and communicate this with the team. Your team will always thank you for involving them in discussions about what working styles would help you do the best job for them.
4. Get into your discomfort zone
Easier said than done but leaving your comfort zone comes with great benefits not only to the project but your confidence too. As well as trying to find areas you think you are good at, it is also good to get involved in projects you might find hard initially. I was able to join some projects in health areas I had no expertise in – but it can be empowering to feel that you made a difference with your angle on a topic and are learning whilst doing so. Joining new projects and raising suggestions at team meetings put me outside of my comfort zone, but was definitely worthwhile.
5. Seize new opportunities
Even if you think something is not your cup of tea, give it a go. At Curious Health, the size of the business meant I got the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of assignments from developing relationships with clients to speaking with journalists and also researching new business opportunities. Every day was different which gave me insights into what I loved engaging with and what I was less keen. This is inevitable, you can’t love everything. Being immersed in so many different projects has provided me with invaluable experience at the onset of my career that I can take into future jobs. On top of this we have monthly Curious Lab Time to try something new – throwing yourself into opportunities like this can mean you find a new interest.
If you are ever unsure of something, be curious. Ask the questions and seize new opportunities and you can’t go too wrong.