Helping your child gain work experience

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Students and employees in a meeting room

The skills and experience students pick up during work experience give your child an edge when it comes to applying for jobs, showing employers they have practical expertise related to the role they're applying for.

They will gain a host of transferable skills you can apply across a range of professional fields as well as technical skills which are specifically relevant to the role.

In this article, we outline the main benefits of work experience for your child plus the different ways they can find a placement.

'The benefits of work experience for your child and how to help them find a placement'

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Start off with this video about work experience which we made for parents:

What are the main benefits?

Gain knowledge and practical skills

Nowadays, having relevant qualifications, although essential, is only half of the equation. If a potential employer can see that an applicant has the knowledge and practical skills to fulfil their role, they have an advantage over someone who only knows the theory.

Provides a taste of the industry

Work experience is a good way for you to get a taster of what it’s like to work in a specific industry. Because they are temporary arrangements, work experience students are not committing themselves to working for a company forever, giving your child the opportunity to refine what it is that they’re looking for from employment.

Meet influential people

Work experience gives students the opportunity to build up a network of contacts who may be able to help them secure a job in the near future. By showing employers that they are enthusiastic and can step up to challenges, your child can also earn themselves good references for future roles.

Potentially get an offer of work

In some cases, the placement will also lead to a job offer – if there’s a position available with that company.

How to make the most of work experience

A mindmap about work experience, made by students at Thomas Tallis

School

Work experience is just that – an experience, a taster of the workplace. It doesn’t last long so it’s important that your childseizes any opportunities that come their way. They should approach their placement with a broad mind and be prepared to get stuck into anything. Encourage them to ask for opportunities to develop their skills and gain new ones. Together,research the organisation they’ll be working for so they know what to expect and can focus on areas of interest or importance to them.

Getting to know the team is a fantastic way for your child to build a network to help them find job opportunities, internships or apprenticeships in future. Encourage them to ask for feedback on your work so they can continually improve.

How to find a placement

To find a work experience placement, your child should:

1. Follow their passions

Whatever it is that gets your child out of bed on Saturday mornings, this could be the very thing that they’d love to do on a work experience placement. What are they interested in? If they’re a music fan, maybe their perfect work experience placement would be in a music shop? If they’re an animal lover, they could contact your local farm, zoo or stables for opportunities.

2. Know where to find out about work experience opportunities

Start your search by looking for companies in your local area that do the kind of work that your child would like to try. A general Google search should give you enough information to get them started. Your child should also be prepared to proactively contact employers who don’t as they may also be able to accommodate them.

Your child should also have a meeting with their school careers advisor. Some careers advisors will have a list of contacts they can give you, or they’ll be able to point you in the direction of the best places to look.

3. Apply to work experience programmes

Look out for companies that run formal work experience programmes. A lot of the larger companies in the UK offer structured work experience placements to school students; however, competition can be tough. Most of these placements require applicants to complete an application form, so work with your child on this and check their application for spelling or grammar issues.

4. Focus on popular industries for work experience

Look at some of the most common industries for school students to do work experience in. These include:

Read more about work experience opportunities for your child in our work experience section.

Image: Lead image by thinkpublic via Flickr, mindmap by Thomas Tallis School via Flickr

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