Work experience is a great opportunity for students to learn about their desired career path and discover what it is like in a professional working environment. It can be both daunting and challenging to find and approach an employer to take you on during this period, especially if you have no work experience, as many 16 and 17-year-olds don’t. To assist with the process, we have collated this guide full of tips and advice on how to secure a work experience placement.
Establish your Interests
You first need to establish what kind of career you would like to go into. Don’t put too much pressure on this and of course you’re allowed to change your mind down the line but it helps to have a rough idea to guide you. Things to consider are what subject you enjoy most, your hobbies, interests and passions and any long-term goals you have. If you are unsure, Progress Careers can help you to figure this out and guide you by suggesting ideas and employers for you to consider.
Decide where to do your Placement
Once you’ve decided what kind of work experience you would like to secure, it is time to start considering the workplaces you want to approach. Do you know anyone working in the field? A family member or a friend’s parent perhaps? This is always a good way to get your foot in the door so be sure to make the most of any connections you have. If you don’t know anyone, do some research online into any local business that may be able to support you with your work experience, specifically looking for companies that can offer you experience related to your career goals. Collate a list of your options, with both ambitious and realistic choices -the more employers you identify the higher chance you have of securing somewhere.
Reach Out to the Employer
Work experience often isn’t advertised so you may need to use your initiative and be proactive with the process of finding a placement. LinkedIn is a great platform to reach out to industry professionals as you can connect with people working in your desired industry who can give you advice and potentially inform you of any opportunities they have. If using LinkedIn, make sure your profile is up-to-date with employer-friendly pictures and you display any recent work, achievements and grades. You can use the ‘Chat’ function to reach out to people and request their email addresses so that you can send over your CV.
Alternatively, if you have a specific company in mind, you could find their website and go to the contact section, sourcing the email you require. When reaching out to employers over email, make sure you use a formal tone of voice and address the person by name if you have direct contact as opposed to a general inquiry email. It is always a good idea to send over your CV in an email too. For support on how to create a CV, you can read a previous blog post we wrote here.
If the company is small and in the local area, it may be worth your time visiting them in person so that you can introduce yourself. Quite often emails may be overlooked, particularly if they have been bombarded with requests so but putting a face to your name, taking the time to go in and expressing your interest, could put you at a huge advantage. This shows you’re passionate and keen about working there and enables you to showcase your communication skills too.
What if you Can’t Find a Placement?
If you’re struggling to hear back or are being told that places don’t have any availability for students on work experience, worry not. It might be that you need to alter your search slightly and be a little less specific with the kind of workplaces you’re approaching. As long as you’re gaining experience in the workplace in a field that is loosely related to your desired career, this will be hugely beneficial. It may be that you realise this path isn’t for you, in which case you can still learn from the experience and move forward.
We hope this guide has helped provide you with some needed advice on how to approach looking for work experience. Work experience can be an intimidating prospect but it is important to approach it with an open mind and with a positive attitude. Employers won’t be expecting you to work independently or without any support so use the time to learn as much as you can from the people around you.