Completing work experience is often easier said than done. First, of course, you need to locate a placement – and it is finding work experience that can prove the real challenge. As ever, our resident Jobs & Careers experts are on hand to give their advice on what type of experience you should be looking out for, and where to find it.
Question: Where do I find work experience and what should I look for?
“This is where networking can be invaluable. Volunteering is also a good place to start as you can get into a good work routine and structure. You will also be able to provide a reference for future employment. Try approaching companies speculatively, demonstrating a real interest in what they do and offering to help in whatever way will benefit the company most. Be specific about the timescale and ask how the employer intends to structure your time with them.”
National Careers Service
“One of the things I often get asked about is gaining experience in the charity sector, especially if people would like to gain a role in a fundraising or marketing capacity. I advise people to approach local organisations and get involved on a volunteer basis, especially if they are students or still at school. Many charities rely on the goodwill of volunteers and the volunteer workforce in the charity industry is thriving. Many charities recognise the added value and diversity of skill that volunteers can bring to the work they do so they invest in services to co-ordinate volunteer activity. Volunteering is a great route into employment; many of the people who have volunteered with our organisation have been successful in either obtaining employment with us or elsewhere because of the practical work experience it’s given them.”
Aisla Nicholls, Head of Human Resources, Framework Housing Association
“Many opportunities are never advertised so the best way to gain work experience is to contact everyone you know and ask – you never know who your contacts might know and how helpful they could be. This also sets you up well for the future as you will be able to grow your network of contacts and develop lasting relationships that could be mutually beneficial in the future. It might feel a bit scary at first to go out on a limb and ask for something, but it shows that you are pro-active and willing to take risks to further your career.”
Hannah Clements, Student Development Officer / Student Enterprise & Employability (SEE), University Of The Arts London
“When thinking about work experience, it is worthwhile looking at websites of firms and recruitment companies, but also speaking to any contacts that you have in the profession. During your search, you should not only focus on the tasks that you will be doing, but also consider what you hope to gain out of the placement, such as deeper industry knowledge and an understanding of the company’s working culture. On the whole, even one or two weeks’ experience is beneficial, as it will give you a taste of working life and then you will be better placed to make a decision about your desired career path.”