Work experience is extremely useful when applying for further education, apprenticeships or employment.
We encourage all of our students to arrange work experience in the form of 'Take Your Child to Work Day'. These are non-pupil school days whereby students are encouraged to shadow a parent/carer, friend or relative to get an insight into the world of work.
They may also be able to arrange work experience for school holidays, especially during the summer or Easter breaks, or in the form of part-time jobs.
Securing your work experience placement
Work experience is a great opportunity to try out different jobs and different types of workplaces to get an idea of what you might like to do when you finish education. Most employers are keen to help young people get a foot on the ladder, however there are strict Health and Safety rules for employers to adhere to, especially for students under 16.
Where to start?
Start by thinking about what your interests are and what you think you might be good at. For example, if you love sport, you might want to see what it’s like to work in a gym or with a sports physiotherapist. If you know you want to be helping people you might want to try out a caring profession like healthcare or working with the elderly.
It’s a good idea to brainstorm lots of ideas first. You can do this with friends or family. Get everything down on paper to start.
Check out who does what you’re interested in
If you’re really not sure how your interests match up with different jobs, use ‘Careers Web’, our Online Careers Resource Centre’. It has got lots of profiles on different jobs. These will help you define what it is you’re keen to explore.
Once you know you’re interested in a particular type of work, you need to see who does this in your area. You can search Google.
Also, talk to your classmates, family and friends and ask around. That’s called networking and it’s a really good way of finding out what’s out there. Someone may be able to introduce you to someone who can provide a placement.
Don’t assume that the big companies won’t have you. Many are willing to offer work placements if you send a polite, well-written letter.
Once you’ve identified a few ideas, done your research and have a contact, draft a letter that explains who you are, what you’re interested in and why you’re asking for work experience. Tell them the dates you’re available. Hopefully they will respond, but if you don’t hear anything after two weeks, you can follow up with a phone call to check that your letter was received and see if they were able to offer you a placement.
Don’t be discouraged if they say no. Just keep trying new possibilities and keep the school posted on your progress.
Lots of employers tell us they really hate it when parents ring up and try to arrange placements for their children. While sometimes it’s difficult for students to use the phone during the working day, employers would so much prefer to hear from students themselves.
If you’re curious about a business but not sure you feel comfortable approaching them, why not go and have a look. You can always ask in person. If they can’t answer, ask for the name of the person they should write to. Be sure to look smart if you’re going to approach them directly.
Make sure you proof read your letter – or get someone else to. Showing that you’re conscientious about spelling and punctuation is a good indication that you’ll be conscientious when you’re on a placement.