Blog | How to find and book work experience

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Thinking about your future career? Get ahead on the ladder and bag yourself some work experience!

The key to finding a great work experience placement is to do something you’re passionate about. That way when you wake up on that Monday morning you’ll be full of excitement (hopefully) about starting your first day doing unpaid work.

So how do you find and book work experience? Well…

First, find an industry to work in

There are lots of great industries to find your foot in; the best place to start is to write down all the type of activities you enjoy doing currently and then find an industry that covers those activities.

Work experience should be a period in your life where you begin to develop your skills and passions so that when you’re ready for a paid job or college or University, you’re going in already equipped with the necessary skills and some experience.

If your school has a career adviser, try and book a meeting with them to discuss your passions and ask for direction in terms of the industry you should book work experience in.

Prospects is a great resource to find out the different types of jobs and industries that are out there. The National Career Service is really good for career advice and guidance as well as icould.com.

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Plan your time wisely

Once you know what industries you want to do work experience in, you now need to plan a good time to do it. Work experience placements can get booked up pretty quickly especially in very competitive and popular companies. So if you need to work experience for next year, it’s best to plan in advance and try to get it booked this year.

The school term tends to be the most popular times for students; try and make some time available in your summer or half term holidays for a better chance to get experience. The earlier you book for work experience, the more chance you have getting dates that work well for you.

Make a list

Now that you have a better idea of your availability, you can now start to put together a list of the companies you would like to work for. In this list make sure you have large and small companies, well known ones and not so well known.

The benefit of having a variety means you have better chance at landing a work experience placement. If you only go for large and popular companies you have less chance at getting a placement than if you went to smaller ones. A well known company name on your CV will look great to employers, but working at a smaller company means you might get to do a range of tasks and learn more skills that will look equally – if not – more impressive on your CV.

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Get calling or emailing

Once you have your list, get on the phone and call the company’s HR department. First find out who you should call – a quick Google search should help you with that. If you’re nervous about speaking on the telephone, why not write out a short script of what you plan to say on the phone.

Practise a couple of times before getting on the phone; in your script you want to: say why you would like to do work experience; ask if there is any opportunity to do work experience; ask when the next available slot is and who the best person to speak to/follow up with is.

You can also email the HR department, but remember to follow up your request if you haven’t heard back with a phone call.

Get a reference

A reference is a document that states your achievements and talks positively about your character and capabilities. When applying for jobs later on in your studies, your prospective employers will ask for references.

Get into the habit of collecting references by asking your Head Of Year, Headteacher or Principle for a reference. Once you’ve completed your work experience, you can also ask the HR department or the person who managed your time for a reference.

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Volunteering

Volunteering counts for work experience and you can volunteer your time in Scouting by helping out with younger groups or by getting leadership experience as a Young Leader.

Working on your Queen’s Scout Award, Duke of Edinburgh Award or Scouts Of The World Award is great way to incorporate volunteering in your day to day.  

Other places to find work experience

Don’t be discouraged if you always hear a ‘no’ from prospective work experience placements. Why not ask family members who know of opportunities in the work place, or you could shadow a family member or friend at work for a day.

Here are some websites to check out to help boost you into the world of work experience:

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