By Louise Loxton - Head of Department, Employer Relationships

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Work experience: 5 ways to help you find it

Doing work experience has many benefits; it can give you an insight into a potential career, help you bridge any skills gaps you may have and make you more attractive to employers (and universities!). The following steps will help you find the placement you want:

1) Get clear about what you need 

If you are still unclear about what you want to do after school or college and/or what type of work experience would benefit you, make an appointment with a Careers advisor and take a skillsscan like the one on the College moodle platform. This will help you make an informed choice about which employers to target with your enquiries and what tasks you would like to do on placement to increase your skillset. You can then draw up a list of potential companies to start contacting

2) Create a CV geared to applying for work experience

This can be delivered personally or sent by email and will help an employer see what type of candidate you are and why you would like to do a placement with them. Ask a member of the employability team to look over it if you are unsure and always proofread before you send! Investing some time in creating a bespoke CV will be worth it, as it will make you stand out from other applicants.

3) Ask your private network

All too often this gets overlooked, yet most of us have family and friends, even neighbours, who might work for organisations we can apply to for some work experience. You could even ask at your old school!

Always be clear on what kind of work experience you are looking for e.g. an admin role, or customer-facing position, working with figures or computer systems etc., for how long (one or two weeks?) and why (what skills do you want to develop? What area of the business do you want to focus on?). Being clear and focused will make it easier for employers to see what you need and quickly assess whether they can help.

4) Stay flexible 

Sometimes it’s worth being open to opportunities further away from the district you live in – don’t limit yourself by looking only within your local area. Find out what the transport connections are in advance and how far you are prepared to travel. Some employers will even reimburse travel costs if you’re on work experience, so it’s always worth asking what their policy is! 

5) Take action 

Use a search engine to find employers in the sector you are interested in and send in your CV with a covering email as to why you want to do work experience with them.

You can also use your Linked In profile to advertise the fact that you are looking for work experience. Visit the local companies you are interested in, speak to their reception and hand in your CV for consideration.

You can also phone and ask for the right person to speak to regarding work experience.  Make sure you prepare this call in advance and have a notepad and pen handy in case the person you need is not there and you need to note down their number and best time to call back.

Attend every work-related event and fair at college, take your CV with you and speak to employers.

Remember: Don’t ask, don’t get.