City : Work Experience Café : About Work Experience
What is Work Experience?
Work experience is a really general term and can apply to anything from work shadowing to insight weeks.
Usually a short term experience of one week, it is your chance to try out a job and see if you like it. This is different from work shadowing because you often get personal experience of the job. It also allows you to develop key skills that you will need in applying for a permanent job.
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.
How does it work?
First find somewhere where you can complete a work placement. You can find somewhere through one of the directories listed on the third floor. Or you can contract a business or company directly or through a friend or family member. Then you will need to apply, explaining why you want to complete the placement. There is a list of local and national agencies on the third floor.
How do I get Work Experience?
It is most common to do a one week placement. It is a taster of work and helps you understand about the world of work. Some schools offer you the opportunity to do work experience when you are in years 10,11, 12 or 13. Check with your school for further information and to help you find something.
If you’re Unemployed:
This type of experience is likely to last longer, anywhere up to 8 weeks and is closer to a 25/30 week placement. It is an opportunity to learn new practical skills and help you up a step on the career ladder.
Doing work experience is really useful at this stage because it may be easier to get than a permanent job. It also gives you a chance to really impress and build up your CV.
Will it affect my benefits?
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 Experience programme then it is compulsory to complete it once you have accepted the offer of a place and leaving early will affect your benefits.
In some cases if you are on JobSeekers and refuse to take part in the Work Programme then your benefits may be cut. If you lose your place on work experience because of poor behaviour then your JobSeekers Allowance can be stopped.
If you are unsure then contact your local JobCentre Plus.
Why do it?
You don’t get paid for completing work experience placements so what do it?
You can learn so much from a work experience placement and more importantly you can prove that you have the skills that will make you an excellent employee. You can demonstrate customer service, explain that you can deal with difficult clients and that you are good at anticipating and solving problems.
Understand the job/industry you want to go into
You will be able to gain first-hand experience of a job sector. This experience will give you a real flavour for what a job in this industry will be like. It can show you whether you want a job in this industry or not. Above all it means that if you get asked in an interview, ‘why do you want to do this job’ you will have a fantastic answer of, I’ve done it for a week, seen what it’s like and I really enjoyed it because...’
Boost your CV
If you make the most of your time on work experience you will have an extra thing to talk about in later interviews. You will also be able to talk about what you have learned and what skills you have developed.
Can lead to a permanent job
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. So it is best to check at the beginning of the placement whether a full-time job is potentially available at the end of it. Employers use work experience as an opportunity to see what potential employees are like, they can see if you are hard working and if you fit in with their company.
Gain experience: Work experience is a brilliant way of being able to prove to future employers that they won’t be taking a risk in hiring you.
Even if the work experience is in something you don’t want to go into take it anyway. All work experience is a stepping stone to something else. You will be able to put it on your CV and show that you can work with other people and have transferrable skills. It 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.