City : Work Experience Café : About Work Experience
What is Work Experience?
Work Experience is a general term that applies to any form of experience within a working environment, usually unpaid.
Most of us undertake a week of work experience whilst at school, but it can be arranged outside of school or college.
Below we've explained some types of work experience, how it works, and where to get it...
Types of work experience
Usually an experience of one week, it is your chance to try out a job and see if you like it. This is the type of work experience you often get to do whilst at school!
You'll get personal experience of the job. It also allows you to develop key skills that you will need in applying for a permanent job and looks very good on your CV.
This is where you get the chance to follow around someone in a job so you get to see what their day-to-day life is like.
It usually lasts a couple of days and you may not get any hands on work to do, but it does mean that you can get to know what the job is like and you can try it to see if you like it before you commit yourself to it.
An internship can last a couple of weeks to a year and they allow you to gain really good insight in to a role whilst working and, in most cases, recieving at least national minimum wage.
Whilst an intership may be a paid role, it offers you a unique insight in to a role and how a certain company works. For more information, see the Prospects website.
How do I get work experience?
Some time within years 11 - 13, it's likely you're school will organise for your year group to do a weeks work experience.
This week is a taster of work and helps you understand what the world of work is all about. You can go to work with a parent or sibling for a week (with permission of course!) or the school will organise a placement for you.
Check with your school for further information and to help you find something!
If you’re Unemployed:
Going in to work experience outside of school - or when you're older - the experience is likely to last longer (usually about 12 weeks) and is an opportunity to learn new practical skills which can help you up a step on the career ladder.
To get work experience, first find somewhere you'd like to experience and that you think can offer you a placement - this could even be where a family member or friend works. Once you've found the right place, contact them directly to ask politely and professionally about work experience opportunities!
You can find out more about how to apply for work experience on floor 2!
How does it work?
Whether you get work experience through school or individually, the experience should allow you to understand how the role works and give you the opportunity to try out lots of the tasks involved.
Whilst you'll need to muck in and get involved, you should always be supervised and given support - if you're left to do work you're not sure about, let your work experience organiser know or ask for help.
Ultimately, your work experience is a chance for you to learn about work, so don't feel embarrased to ask questions where you don't know things!
Will it affect my benefits?
Generally, if you're work experience is un-paid and doesn't affect your income, it shouldn't affect your benefits. If you are paid for your time it will affect your benefits - so get in touch with your local Job Centre Plus.
If you are on Jobseekers Allowance and taking part in work experience you must show that you are continuing to look for paid work and that you are attending interviews as normal.
If you are taking part in the government’s Work Together programme then it is voluntary and will not affect your benefits. You will still be required to attend your Work Coach interviews.
If you'd like more information, check the GOV UK website for all the details!
Why do it?
For the majority of work experience you don’t get paid for completing the placements, so why do it?
Develop Skills: You can learn so much from a work experience placement including transferable skills that will boost your employability. The most common skills you'll learn will be team-work and time keeping!
Gain Experience and Understanding: You will be able to gain first-hand experience of a job sector, which will give you a real flavour for what a job in this industry will be like and give you something to talk about if you apply for a job in that field. OR, if you don't enjoy your work experience you'll know that that sector isn't for you!
Build you CV: The experience you gain can all be included on your CV especially if it's in a sector you're applying for! You can also use your managers as referees who can testify that you are a hard worker and you'll be able to talk about your experience at interviews.
It Can Lead to a Permanent Career: While there is no guarantee that you will get a job after you’ve finished your work experience, there may be the possibility that if you impress your employer enough they may offer you a job. Even if the work experience doesn’t lead to a job directly at the company, that experience can certainly help land you another role.
Show future employers you've got initiative: Getting your own placement will also show that you have the initiative and motivation to gain experience and that you are willing to work hard at any job you are given. These are valuable skills that any employer will look for!