Work Experience - What's in it for me?
Work experience is a fantastic opportunity to show what you are capable of doing, it looks good on your CV and is valued by employers.
You need to decide what it is you want out of it:
- Do you want to find out more about a particular career area or specific job?
- Do you want a chance to enhance your CV when applying for a job or course?
- Do you want to see what working life is like?
4 great reasons to do work experience
- It builds your self-confidence and allows you to show an employer you have the right attitude to work and that you are flexible, enthusiastic and willing to learn.
- It helps you decide if the career path you have chosen is right for you and you will have the opportunity to network with employers.
- It can give you experience of using skills which you can mention on your CV.
- It gives you a chance to feel what it is like to be a worker, not a student.
Virtual work experience
Many students are now doing their work experience online.
Although, this is a bit different to actually being in a work place, having a virtual experience can have other advantages - it could be anywhere in the world from the comfort of your armchair!
What could a virtual work experience be like?
- You might have to have an online interview or chat to get the placement - so prepare your online self by practicing.
- You might have to send in a CV outlining your skills, interests, why you want the placements, etc.
- Employers offering a virtual work experience should be clear about what's involved and what you will get from the experience.
- The placement might involve a virtual tour of the workplace, looking at videos of people talking about their jobs or having an online chat with people from the company.
- You might be asked to complete a task with a time limit.
Where would I find a virtual work experience?
- Your school/college parents/carers might have ideas of companies which could offer these opportunities.
- Look at company websites to see if virtual experiences are advertised or find a ley contact and ask them by email.
- Think about the companies near to where you live and send them an email request.
Types of work experience
In the time of Covid-19 many work experience placements will be offered ‘virtually’.
Block placement (Y10, 12 and college students)
Block work experience is a week or two with an employer where they will put a programme together for you and you will complete a work experience diary.
One day per week placement (Y12 and course related)
This type of work experience is generally linked to a specific course you are completing but does not have to be. Again you will have a programme for your placement and will be asked to write a diary of your time with the employer(s).
When there are specific reasons why you cannot actually do the job-role work, for example if the job requires specialist skills, you might get to 'shadow' someone who is doing the job. This may relate to some jobs in medicine, engineering and construction.
Internships (paid and unpaid)
Internships can be a great way of developing your skills and adding experience to your CV – usually anything from a few weeks to a few months. Prospects has details of some virtual internships.
These are advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website and last for 6 weeks to 6 months. They are unpaid and are intended to support you with progression into an apprenticeship. Although unpaid, employers are encouraged to support your transport and meal costs if they are able. During Covid19 the government has announced that even more traineeships will be available.
There are many opportunities to volunteer to help you:
- Try a different area of work
- Learn new skills
- Develop skills and experiences you can include on your CV
- Show an employer you are proactive
- Build networks to help you find the career you really want
Not to forget any part time work!
Always think of any part time work as an opportunity to develop your skills, build your self-confidence as well as earning some money. Employers do value these experiences as they show motivation, self-discipline and a willingness to work.
Where to find work experience
Start by speaking to people you know – teachers, family, friends, neighbours. They could know someone who could offer you a placement or offer one themselves.
Contact employers. You can do this by going to jobs and careers fairs that are advertised or by getting in touch by letter, email, phone or in person. Make sure you create a good impression, always be polite and leave your contact details. If you are speaking to someone face to face smile and keep eye contact.
Many employers offer work experience through application processes on their websites so look out for these.
How to make the most of your work experience
Demonstrate and develop your skills
Use the opportunity to practice and develop your skills in a real situation. When applying for jobs or courses later talk about the skills you used on your work experience as employers will value your ability to demonstrate you have used your skills. Make sure you add your work experience to your CV ready for applications for jobs, college courses and university.
Help decide your career pathway - is it right for you?
Work experience can help you decide whether a job area is for you. You might find your work experience confirms that job is exactly what you want to do in the future or if not, then at least you know and can look at other careers.
Build a network
It is good to keep in contact with employers you have worked with as there could be opportunities in the future to work for them or they could recommend you to another employer.
Finally, you need to be organised!
If you want to give yourself the best chance to find the right placement you cannot leave it to the last minute.
And when you have done your placement..
Sign in to the Careerpilot Career Tools and use Pre 16 Skills Map or Post Skills Map. In your Skills Bank add details of the work experience placement you have done and the skills you have used.
For more information