Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A bit of a rant: how not to be a good trainee

These past couple of weeks have been very busy for me in a marketing sense. There was a BIG tender push (which we won!), website design plus three client functions. This, coupled with a new, very demanding, seat has swamped me with work to the point of overload. So much so that I had to call in one of the new trainees to take some of the work off my hands.

Now, the new trainees have only been in the office for 6 weeks. so I wasn't expecting miracles. I handed over the easier bits that needed doing - a bit of client research, article ideas - the type of marketing that trainees usually get involved with. Unfortunately I didn't get the quality level I was expecting.

My instructions hadn't been followed, the research was no more than cut and paste from the client's website, the article ideas were the headlines from BBC news with no legal relevance, and, most irritating of all, there were typos (seriously, the queen does not award 'OBC's!) Normally, I wouldn't critisize a trainee, after all, I am trainee too and we are all learning. However when the work given to me is of such poor quality or of such little use that I have to do it again and in less time, I think I am vindicated to have a little moan!

I understand that marketing isn't every one's cup of tea (although this really won't wash as an excuse with me) and when you are a new first year it can be a bit difficult to  appreciate what exactly is a good idea for an article. What bugs me is the lack of effort this trainee put in. He is bright enough not to think it was of an appropriate standard and he asked for work so wasn't pushed for time. It therefore, in my mind, can only be pure laziness or sloppiness, both of which are not qualities that trainees can afford to display.

This may seem a little bit harsh but at the end of the day we are all competing against each other and the others certainly won't be making those kind of mistakes. It shouldn't matter that it was a junior that asked for the work, negative feedback will get back to those who make the big decisions. Trainees really don't want to get a reputation for not delivering or for poor results. A bad reputation is much more likely to stick than a good one and far more difficult to shift.

The other issue is that I won't be asking that trainee for help again unless there is no other option. Given that I often have sector work going spare which can become high profile (did I mention we had won THE tender?) he has really shot himself in the foot. Trainees can't afford to burn their bridges like this, two years go by in a flash and every opportunity will count come recruitment time.

The one thing that I keep in the back of my mind to keep performing is that I am lucky to have a training contract at all. For every one trainee at my firm, there were at least 10 disappointed candidates and I'm sure this figure is much bigger for larger firms. I think it is insulting to the trainees-in-waiting who were turned down to give me a chance if I don't make the most of it. There are graduates literally begging for contracts, I cannot understand why anyone would want to waste theirs.

So! Rant over! But take note trainees-in-waiting, don't make the same mistakes this trainee did.

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