Work experience

While you are at school you will be given the opportunity to do some work experience. Where possible, your placement will be arranged through your school or college.

Work experience can play a key role in helping you develop an understanding of the world of work. It will help give you an insight into what working is really like.

It can also help you to think about what options are available to you when you leave school or college.

Work experience is not compulsory but many employers think that it is very useful. You’ll find many people, including your parents or carers, teachers and advisers will recommend that you try some type of work experience.

Future opportunity

Getting as much work experience as possible in your chosen career, or areas that you are interested in, will help you in the future. It will look good on your CV and be useful to include on job applications.

Don’t forget that any experience is better than no experience, even if it isn’t directly related to what you want to do as a career.

Term time work

Work experience is usually taken in term time and can last up to two weeks. If you decide you would like to gain more work experience, seasonal work or volunteering may be an option.

The number of hours worked and the pattern of work can vary from job to job. As a rule you should not be asked to work more than eight-hours a day and no more than five days in a seven-day period. Remember to get your hours agreed beforehand.

Plan ahead

There is a lot of competition for some placements so think about planning something quite a bit in advance. Consider where, when and for how long you would like to do your work experience.

To get some ideas have a look at local companies’ websites.

Also, talk to your family and friends to see whether they have any contacts who can help.

Disabled workers

If you are a disabled student, it’s possible that health and safety legislation will prevent you from doing work placements in some places.

This is because health and safety takes priority over the Disability Discrimination Act. However, if you are a disabled young person and want to go into work, you are still entitled to the same job opportunities as anyone else.

What you’ll get out of work experience

If you do some work experience you will be expected to carry out a range of tasks and duties. You will also be able to:

  • Put it down on your CV and job application forms.
  • Pick up new skills, experiences, ideas and understanding of the work.
  • Learn how to deal with people, work in a team, use office equipment and IT packages.
  • See what you enjoy and don’t enjoy about the particular jobs/careers.
  • Talk to people who are already doing the job and find out what they think about the work they are doing.

Volunteering

As well as being a great opportunity to give something back and contribute to the community, volunteering looks fantastic on your CV and is an excellent way of gaining new skills through work experience which could improve your employability for any job you apply for in the future.

In addition to showing your generous side, volunteering can demonstrate that you have a wide range of interests, are self-motivated and are a sociable person.

As well as this, it’s great work experience and could help you decide what you want to do in the future; giving you a kick-start into your eventual career.

Who can help?

Your school or college will be able to give you more information on what type of work experience and placements are available.

You can find what sort of jobs and careers are out there at the National Careers Service, This might help you make your decision when it comes to deciding where to do work experience.