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Work Experience

Work Experience

When you start thinking about what you want to do when you leave school or college, work experience is really important. A study conducted by UKCES found that 29% of employers say that experience is critical when recruiting young people and a further 45% say it is significant. Without it, you could really struggle to know what you want to do when you leave school or college. Not only that, it is a really useful tool that you can use when you have a job interview because you can talk about things that you have been involved in!

Why Work Experience is SO important

Work Experience allows you to gain an insight of what it’s like to work in a workplace, as well as improve your skills, confidence and motivation. The Princes Trust spoke with young people they help into employment who said that ‘work experience is vital in helping them find work as it helps them break the cycle of ‘no experience – no job, no job – no experience’.

  • You’ll learn new skills
  • Learn about the job
  • Get experience
  • Know what you want to do
  • You’ll be safe & supported by your employer
  • You’ll have lots of support & have a designated ‘buddy’ if it’s possible
  • You might get food & travel funding to help you get there

What does Work Experience actually involve?

Work Experience does vary depending on what you want to do, where you go and how long you’re there for. If it’s just for a week or two, you may be involved with assistant type tasks such as administration with little responsibility. But on longer programmes such as Traineeships you could get more responsibility and have regular meetings with your employer with formal evaluations at the end of your programme.

If you can really show what you’re made of, many employers offer a full-time position or supported training programmes to help you become a full-time member of staff.

Deciding on what to do for work experience (when you know what to do)

If you know exactly what you want to do, well done! Not many people do! If you do know this, the best thing to do is start thinking about where you could find work experience near you in the industry you’re interested in.

  • Careers in Catering? Think about local restaurants and pubs
  • Careers in Marketing? Research local marketing agencies or contact local organisations and see if they have a marketing department
  • Careers in Medicine? Speak to your local pharmacy or hospital
  • Careers in Finance? Talk to local banks or accounts offices, or speak to local employers as they may have an accounts department

Deciding on what to do for work experience (when you don’t know what to do)

If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s absolutely fine, most people don’t! If you’re not sure what you’re interested in or what could suit you try taking our Arctic Shores assessment on the website – it’s an app where you play a few games (or psychometric tests) and you’ll find out what you’re good at. It might come back with something you’ve never even thought of!

If you don’t have time for that, think about subjects you enjoy and look at similar things:

English – newspapers, magazines, writing, libraries, teaching, marketing, PR, sales
Maths – accounting, finance, engineering, computer programming
Geography – Local Government, marketing, Energy & Utilities Companies
Science – Pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals, teachings, vets, data, analysis
Photography – news, photography companies, marketing

How do I apply for work experience?

  1. Speak to family and friends and find out what they do. They might work in the sector that you want to! They can then speak to their HR department about bringing you in to get involved.
  2. Speak to your neighbours about what they do. They could do the same thing, or they might know someone who works in the industry you’re interested in.
  3. If you know the employer you want to work for, google them and see if you can get contact details!
  4. Speak to your Careers Adviser at school, they may have contact details of people in the industry you want to work in and could organise something for you.

Remember, your family & friends may live further away but you could stay with them while doing your work experience. As long as your parent or carer are happy with that, you could find your dream job! After all, when you do get a full-time job you may have to move…

The Department of Education described three patterns for 16-19 years old.

Experiential Work Experience

Experiential work experience is when you spend one or two short periods working with a organisation. This includes work experience connected with further study or employment options. This is the kind of experience that you get when you visit a local employer during the school year or helping out at a parent/family friends’ business when they need extra support.

It gives you a sense of what the job could involve and what you could be doing in the future when you leave school, college or University.

Vocational Model

The vocational model of work experience is when you need to work in order to gain a certain qualification, this could be doing a teaching qualification and needing to spend time at a school, or a childcare qualification where some credits are working with a local employer. An apprenticeship is also another ideal example of vocational work experience. Essentially, you do it to start to learn how the academic knowledge you learn at college or school applies to the working world.

Extended Model

The Extended Model of work experience is one where you develop employability skills as well and maths and English with your employer. This will be a majority of what you’re doing during the work experience. If you’re thinking about doing a traineeship, this is the perfect example of the this; you find out what it’s like to work while getting the key qualifications you need to progress in your career by getting onto an apprenticeship!

Find out more on Work Experience or apply for a programme:

Sutton Trust

Speakers for schools

Princes Trust

Why do work experience?

Whether it's a short work placement or a longer internship, work experience is always viewed favourably by employers.

Read More


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