How to Find Work Experience

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Are you looking for work experience?

Work experience is a great way to build up your career confidence and skills. It lets you get a taste of different jobs to see if they are right for you and it looks good on your CV too!

You can do it if you are over 14, but if you are under 16 you will still need permission from a parent or guardian.

A work experience placement usually lasts between one and four weeks. It can be completed all in one go or over one or two days per week to fit in with your studies.

If you’re wondering where to start your search, check out these handy tips. We also have work experience listings on our website. 

Looking for work experience in year 10, year 11 or year 12?

In 2012 the government stopped compulsory work experience for students aged 14-16. Lots of schools do still help students find work experience though, so check with your teacher or careers advisor if they can help set you up.

You might also be able to arrange a placement somewhere as part of your course if you are studying a practical subject like IT or design.

Some qualifications have work experience built into them, like BTECs and NVQs. Check with your teacher if any of these options are on offer at your school.

If you are aged 15-17, you could also get volunteering experience through National Citizen Service.

Ask friends and family

Don’t be afraid to ask your family or your friend’s parents if they can offer you work experience, especially if you know someone who does something you are interested in.

You don’t have to go somewhere that has done work experience placements before, but it helps if they have, as they will understand what to offer you.

Make sure to check that they will give you a reference before you start work too (a reference is a confirmation that you have worked somewhere and will boost your CV).

Go local: searching for work experience in your area

First off, write down a list of jobs you are interested in, then get online and make a list of local businesses that offer these kinds of jobs. For example, if you live in Hull and you're interested in a law career, you could search "solicitors in Hull". You can also use a business directory like yell.com or thomsonlocal.com to help you search.

If you're stuck for ideas, have a look at our work experience ideas article to get some inspiration. 

Big companies sometimes have a special section on their website that will tell you how and when to apply for work experience. With smaller companies you will need to track down their details and call them or send an email to see if they have anything on offer.

Remember, you should look for a placement near your home or school. If you want to go for something further away, make sure your folks are happy to give you a lift or let you travel by bus/train. 

Get that work experience CV and cover letter ready

If you are applying for work experience by yourself, the best thing is to get in touch with businesses by sending your CV to employers with a short cover email or letter. 

This will show that you are making the effort and will give a great first impression.

Make sure to say in your letter why you would like to work there in particular, it shows you have done your research and are thinking about them. 

TOP TIP: Find out the name and email address of the company manager to write to. Don’t send your email to a generic address like info@mycompany.com unless you are told to, as it might go straight in the spam bin. Be brave and pick up the phone if you can’t find the info online. 

For more advice on CVs and cover letters click here.

Be patient

Some companies have lots of students applying for work experience, so you might need to wait a while before you can start. You can apply to more than one place at a time though, as long as you arrange the work for different dates.

Check out our jobs and courses board for current and future work experience opportunities.

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