Work experience is an extremely valuable tool in helping students to develop new skills, increase understanding and explore their career ideas .Recent research, done both by universities and within the workplace itself, has emphatically shown the importance that employers place on their potential employees having an understanding of the workplace. Work experience is a starting point for pupils to develop their transferable skills such as communication and teamwork, along with building their self-confidence and gaining new knowledge. From this starting point, pupils can move on to part-time work, volunteering, traineeship, apprenticeships or college to help them fulfil their career aspirations. It helps students to learn how to network and to source mentors who can assist them along their career journey. Work experience is arranged through school via Mrs Hancock Careers Lead
A placement may be full-time or extended. Full-time arrangements allow a student to work in a business for a week or longer period, and apply usual hours of work. Extended placements allow a pupil to experience working in a business or organisation for one or two days a week over a longer period of time.
Year 10 work experience takes place near the end of term.
Year 11 work experience takes place after GCSE.
10 ways to get the most out of work experience
- Make a good first impression
First impressions really do count. Make sure you turn up on time, are suitably dressed (if in doubt, better to go smarter) and are raring to go. If you show you’re friendly, reliable and competent from the get-go, chances are more opportunities will come your way.
- Get to know people
Greet everyone you meet with a smile and try and introduce yourself to everybody you’ll be working with. Don’t be afraid to ask people about their roles and how they got to where they are now – they’ll be flattered!
- Be organised
While you’ll have guidance during your internship, you can’t expect to be spoon-fed the whole time. Listen carefully to instructions and note down important meetings, dates and deadlines to help manage your time effectively.
- Get involved
It might sound obvious, but the more you get stuck in, the more experience you’ll gain. Be enthusiastic about any task – big or small – and use your initiative to go above and beyond what’s asked of you.
- Ask questions
There’s no shame in asking for clarification if you’re not sure what you’re doing – in fact, employers will respect that you have the guts to ask. But be resourceful – think twice about asking a question that could be answered with a quick Google search.
- Make suggestions
If you think you’ve got a valuable comment to add, don’t be afraid to speak up. Employers love people with ideas, and your contribution – whether your idea is taken up or not – will be appreciated.
- Offer to help
When you speak to people, ask after their current projects and emphasise that you’d like to get involved. Showing you’re approachable and keen will ensure they think of you when they need an extra pair of hands.
- Make notes
Jot down any useful information about particular tasks you’ve worked on and skills you’ve picked up. That way you’ll have a record of everything you need to take away from your time there – handy for future job applications!
- Ask for feedback
Try and gather informal feedback from your supervisor as you go along, rather than just waiting for a report at the end – it gives you a chance to improve throughout your time there.
- Reflect on your work experience
It’s important to be honest with yourself when reflecting on your internship. If you didn’t particularly enjoy it, it doesn’t mean it’s been a massive waste of your time. Even if the only thing you take away from the experience is knowing you don’t want to work in that industry, it’s been useful!