Friday, June 03, 2011

Work Experience
Whether you are still at school or college, the opportunity to gain some work experience is a useful investment for your future.

Why do work experience?

  • It gives you a more competitive edge when it comes to applying for jobs, making you more attractive to employ from an employer's perspective.
  • You get to use the skills you have learnt in the classroom - applying your knowledge to real life situations. You can use this practical experience as examples when you are applying for jobs and it shows the employer that you have developed useful skills over and above your academic qualifications.
  • You get the chance to try out different careers before committing yourself - so you get a better idea of what you really want to do.
  • It is a great way to develop skills such as communication, IT, problem-solving and team work.
  • It is useful for building up contacts you might need in the future when it comes to the job hunt!
  • Many employers make job offers to people who have impressed them during work experience placements.
Who can do work experience?
Anyone! If you are still at school, you will probably be offered work experience in year 10 or 11. It usually lasts around two weeks during term time. Schools organise work experience in different ways. Your school might have a list of local placements with organisations and companies which take work experience students on a regular basis. These placements tend to be offered on first-come, first-served basis. If you know what you want to do, get your name down early to be sure of getting the placement you really want.
Alternatively, schools may give you the option of finding your own placement. In this case, talk to your careers advisor to establish the type of work you are interested in and discuss possible placements. You can also contact companies to arrange the work experience yourself for the set time period. Take the initiative to arrange some additional work experience for - a week, or even a day, during the holidays.
If you know what you want to do it will give you a 'foot in the door', it shows motivation and a real interest in your chosen career. If you are not sure what you want to do after education it is a great way to get a taste for different jobs. Even holiday jobs can count towards work experience. Think about what you are learning and what skills you are developing - you will find it makes it much easier when it comes to writing your CV.

Types of work experience

  • A course-related work placement
  • Voluntary work
  • Work shadowing (you observe the duties of a particular member of staff)
  • Temporary, seasonal, casual or holiday work

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