Group of people talking in an office environment

Make a good first impression

Make a good first impression during your placement and you’ll be more likely to succeed and get greater responsibility. Here's some tips to help you adjust.

“Companies realise that this is your first time in a real working environment and give you time to settle in. Ask loads of questions and don’t be afraid of being wrong.”

Charlotte, BA(Hons) Business and Law, placement at Glaxosmithkline

Office behaviour

Show good office etiquette


  • get to know your organisation’s working culture
  • always treat your colleagues with respect and tread carefully around tricky subjects like politics and religion
  • keep your desk tidy
  • follow the rules and procedures explained in your induction, especially around internet and phone usage, health and safety, and sickness reporting
  • if you’re sick with a contagious virus, don’t go into work and risk spreading it.

Own your mistakes

Nobody expects you to be perfect and know everything straight away, but if you make a mistake the best thing you can do is to admit it. Your manager will appreciate your honesty and can offer any additional support you might need. Remember that you’ll learn from your mistakes.

Have a positive attitude

Enthusiasm is infectious, so smile and show your enthusiasm. If you’re more reserved then that’s okay – show an interest in the company and your colleagues. Remember to ask questions and be keen.

Dress appropriately

Dress smartly on your first day. A safe option could be:

  • smart trousers or a smart knee-length skirt
  • a clean and ironed shirt/blouse
  • a blazer, jacket or dressy cardigan
  • clean, smart and polished shoes (avoid very high heels, as you’ll need to be able to walk around during the day.


  • short skirts or shorts
  • low-cut tops
  • see-through or very tight clothing
  • very heavy makeup, as it can look unprofessional.

Every organisation will be different, but see what’s acceptable in your organisation and adapt your clothes accordingly.

Time management and organisation

Be punctual. Nothing undermines a good first impression like being late, so make sure you’re organised and meet work deadlines. Keep your colleagues informed if you need extra time or support.

It’s also really important you manage your time effectively. Working life is more structured than life at UWE Bristol and you’re likely to have more constraints on your time.

You’ll be expected to start and leave work at set times. This will vary from organisation to organisation, so find out what is acceptable in your workplace.

Get to know people

Many organisations have social events and clubs where you can get to know your colleagues better. You’ll settle in to your placement and feel part of the team much quicker, and it’s great for networking too.

You’ll instantly click with some colleagues and others may require a bit more effort. This is only natural when you’re working with people from a range of backgrounds, ages and cultures. Showing an interest in people is a great way of networking and will make it easier for you to suggest any ideas or improvements you have.

Be kind to yourself

In the first few weeks you’ll find yourself adjusting to your new working life, but it’s natural for this to take some getting used to. Eat well and make sure you get enough sleep to help you build up stamina. Your social life might have to take a back seat initially whilst you adjust to working life.

If you have an ongoing health condition or illness you may find your new situation presents new challenges. If this is the case then please get in touch with the Placement Team for support and advice.

Advice from fellow students

Watch our film to hear how fellow UWE Bristol students have settled into their placements, and get their top tips for making your placement a success.

Settle into your placement film

British working culture for international students

If you’re an international student and it’s your first experience of working in the UK you might notice some differences to your home country, which might surprise you! This blog on British working culture provides some interesting insights.

We'll call you on the number registered with UWE Bristol four to six weeks into your placement to catch up and check that everything is going well. If you have questions before then please contact us so we can help you.

Your first week on placement

Your placement will start with a welcome and induction on your first day. Remember to bring a pen and pad with you to every meeting – although you won’t be expected to remember everything instantly, it’ll help you to jot down questions or points as they come up.

Typically, your first week will cover:

  • IT set-up: your computer and email will be set up, usually in time for your arrival. For security reasons, don’t write any of your passwords down.
  • A company overview: You’ll understand how your role fits into your team and the company. It’s helpful to read your job description through a few times so you get familiar with it.
  • An introduction to colleagues: You’ll meet key colleagues and understand their roles. It’s a good opportunity to ask questions and show interest!    
  • An outline of company policies and procedures: This should include health and safety training, and sickness reporting.
  • Objective setting: You’ll set objectives for your placement with your manager which will be reviewed at catch-up meetings
  • Company training: You’ll discuss any training you'll need to help you do your role. 

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