How to get work experience Work Experience
If you are considering starting a new career or trying something new, work experience is a fantastic way to learn more about an industry and develop new skills. Work experience also presents an opportunity to get your foot in the door with an employer, or get a feel for whether a workplace is compatible with your needs.
For some, finding work experience can be a challenge. From deciding on the type of sector or industry you’d like to work in to having the right contacts to organise it; getting from A to B without hitting a few stumbling blocks along the way can be tricky. But, there are a few routes to finding work experience, and in this article we will show you how to get work experience, from deciding on a placement to setting it all up.
Decide What You’d Like To Try
If you already know the type of career you would like to pursue, then you’re halfway there. Knowing what you would like to try, or the kind of industry you’d like to work in, will help you narrow down a list of local places you could enquire about work experience.
If you aren’t sure where you would like to work, or the kind of jobs you’d like to try, don’t worry! First of all, have a look around your local area and do a bit of searching. Consider what your interests are, or what your favourite subjects were at school. Have a think about what you are good at, or any jobs that you find interesting or would like to learn more about. There are lots of resources online too that can give you an insight into certain job roles and help you understand if they’d be a good fit for you.
The next step to finding a work placement is to be realistic with yourself about what might happen and the type of responsibility you will be given. Remember, a work experience role or a placement is designed to give you a taste of what that industry or job might be like.
It’s likely that you won’t be given a lot of responsibility during the course of work experience. And you may be required to only do very simple (and sometimes repetitive) tasks. For example, if you gain work experience in a restaurant because you’d like to be a chef, it’s very unlikely that you will be actually cooking. In many cases, you may be assisting with washing dishes and clearing up in the kitchen, preparing food (such as peeling potatoes or washing vegetables) or even simply observing for a short while.
Setting realistic expectations means you won’t get frustrated or demotivated when you do have a placement. And it will help you narrow down a list of placement opportunities that may be useful for you.
When you have an idea of the type of work experience you’d like to try, you can then start looking.
The first place to start is to speak to people you know about work experience. For example, a family member, neighbour, or friend may work in an industry or organisation you’re interested in. If that’s the case – ask them! They may be able to put you in touch with someone within the organisation who can help you, or even ask around for you.
If you don’t know anyone who has contacts that might be useful, then use the internet to your advantage. You can easily find companies in your area with a quick Google search. Online job boards like Indeed or Monster can also be helpful in supporting you to find local organisations that are currently recruiting or looking for interns.
Before you make contact with an organisation regarding work experience, it’s first good to get your CV prepared if you haven’t already done so. Many of the companies you contact may require this, others might not. But it’s best to have both virtual and physical copies to hand should your CV be requested. If you haven’t already written your CV, check out our CV writing guide.
You should also make sure that you have an active, professional email address. If your current email inbox is filled with spam, then create another one (it’s free) and use that for your work experience search only to avoid missing anything important.
When your CV is prepared, then it’s time to get in touch. There are a number of ways to get in touch with an organisation…
- Drop in and ask about work experience in person
- Call them
- Email them
- Message them on social media
How you approach contact with an organisation will depend on its size and the type of company it is.
For example, if you were looking to gain work experience at a tattoo shop, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to stop by the shop and talk to someone in person, or contact them on social media.
For larger organisations, this may not be possible. Similarly, a company with multiple branches may not handle things like work experience from a store but at their head office.
If this is the case then calling and asking to speak to the person in charge of work experience or emailing them may be easier. In most cases, it is much easier and quicker to speak to someone face to face or over the phone, rather than wait for them to email you back. So, where possible try to go down these routes first.
If you’re feeling nervous about picking up the phone and speaking to someone, here are a few tips to help you out.
How To Call & Ask About Work Experience
If you’re nervous about picking up the phone, then you’re not alone. Lots of people find the prospect of talking to an employer a bit daunting. However, the fear of doing it is always much worse than the task itself. To help you find the confidence to call an employer about work experience, here are some tips:
- Do your research first. It is much easier to ask to speak to a specific person than try and find out the name of the right one. So use Google and LinkedIn to help you find the name of the right person.
- Write down some key points and questions before you make the call. This will help to remind you of what you want to say if you get flustered.
- Have a pen and paper to hand in case you need to write down a person’s name, contact number or email address.
- Speak clearly and don’t rush.
- Be sure to give your name at the start of the call.
- Try and relax!
It’s important to remember that some employers may well tell you they don’t offer work experience placements. If that is the case, just thank them for their time and move on. Don’t get disheartened. There are still many other avenues you can explore.
Get Help With Finding Work Experience
If you’re looking to secure a work experience placement but you’re not sure where to start, contact us at Building Better Opportunities.
Whether you’re not sure what you’d like to do or feel like you’re lacking in confidence, we can help you in a number of ways.
Firstly, our advocates will work with you to create a personal development plan that focuses on your goals. By asking the right questions, we’ll help you drill down into the sort of career (and life) you would like to create for yourself, and then we’ll put a plan of action together to help you do it!
As well as that, we can also help you with any training you may need to either build your skills and confidence. From outdoor wellbeing courses aimed at building your self-esteem to academic courses to help you gain maths and English qualifications, we work with a range of partners to connect you with the right programs for you.
To get an idea of the types of training and courses that we offer, take a look at our events calendar.
Finally, we also have relationships with employers across Stafford and South Staffordshire who we can arrange work experience with.