Gearing up for a work experience placement? Here's how to organise a great one

Need to complete a work experience placement for school? If you research and arrange your own, you’ll have a much better chance of sampling an industry or profession you’d actually consider in future, which is the whole point.

If you leave it to your teachers, you could well find yourself working at a school when you hate children, or at a building site when you already know you want to be a lawyer. So, how do you go about finding work experience in the first place?


1. Speak to your teacher

First off, you need to find out when you will need to have the placement completed so you have plenty of time to research your options. If you already have a few companies or sectors in mind, ask your teacher if your school has any arrangements in place with them. If they do, great, you’re in! If not…


2. Apply directly to the company

Once you’ve worked out where you’d like to undertake your placement, get in touch with the employers directly. Don’t worry if they don’t advertise; this doesn’t mean they don’t accept applications, or that you can’t be the first work experience student they have on board. How you approach contacting a company will vary from business to business. But no matter where you end up, work placements are all about gaining skills and – you guessed it – experience. So, show some initiative and send off brief emails explaining why you’d like to do work experience at the companies you’ve chosen, with a CV attached.

Some companies advertise their work experience placements. These are generally found online. If you’re applying for an advertised placement, be sure to read the criteria and requirements thoroughly before lodging. And once you’ve written up your application as specified, be sure to proofread it thoroughly before submitting. What’s next, you ask?


3. Be patient!

It may take the company a while to get back to you (hence the importance of the first step), but you should always stay patient. Some companies will have lots of students applying for work experience, which is why it’s a good idea to put as much effort into your application — and all contact — as possible. The good news is you can apply for as many work experience placements as you want, so long as you arrange the work for different dates.