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Experience the world of work

The best way to understand the industry you're interested in is to experience what it's like to work in it. That includes being in the workplace, speaking to the employees and getting involved in tasks while you're there. 

We're here to help guide you on how to get work experience and making the most out of it.

How to get work experience

When you're in S4, your teachers will help you arrange your work experience. 

Some schools run work experience schemes for older pupils too, helping you get ready for things such as:

  • college
  • uni
  • taking on an apprenticeship
  • taking on a job straight from school

You do not have to leave it to your teachers to organise. You can volunteer at a charity, speak to local businesses you're interested in or simply get in touch with companies yourself. 


Career Adviser Iain Dalgleish's advice 

Think about what you want to get it out of it. Do you want to find out more about a particular career area or specific job? 

Think about who you know (friends, family, neighbours) that might be able to help you. They might know someone that does the job you want to do or perhaps be able to offer you a placement themselves. Speak to as many people as you can. The more people you speak to, the better chance you have of getting a placement that's going to suit you. 

If you do not have any contacts through people you know, you could try approaching employers yourself. Always try to contact the manager whether it's by:

  • letter
  • email
  • phone
  • in person

If you phone or go in person, explain to the person you speak to first who you are and why you're there and then ask if you can speak to a manager. You want to create a good impression right from the start, so remember to smile. If the manager is not available at the time, ask if you can leave your phone number or email address for them to get back in touch with you. 

Some employers will appreciate that you've taken the time and effort to do it and may be more likely to offer you a placement. 

Make work experience work for you

There's lots that work experience can help you with - mainly deciding what kind of career you want. 

Everything you learn while you're there can help you get started on that journey after school. Even if you decide that the career is not right for you, work experience lets you:

  • explore new tasks
  • learn new skills
  • meet new people 
  • find out things you're good at that you never even know 
  • get a confidence boost 

Before you start your work placement

1. Be prepared​​​​​​​

You’ll feel better if you avoid the last-minute rush and pack your bag the night before. Take a notebook and pen, you can use it to write down instructions you're given or to make notes for your work placement learning. 

2. Plan your route

It's important not to be late and create a bad first impression. Plan your journey in advance, especially if you've never been there before or taking public transport.

3. Know your contact

Remember who your main employer contact is. You need to know who to ask for when you get there. It’s also helpful to have a phone number in case you need to get in touch if you’re running late.

4. Look the part

You’ll feel more confident if you look the part. Check the dress code. Whether it’s suits or overalls, it’s important to be dressed for the environment you’re working in. You’ll also take away any last-minute stress if you get your clothes ready the night before.

Get the most out of your work experience

Get ready to grab your opportunity and follow these top tips.


Ask questions

Talk to people in the role and ask them how they got to be where they are. Make sure you find out more about the company and get advice on applying for a similar role yourself. 

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Pay attention

Listening skills are something that employers always look for – take this opportunity to develop them. The discussion might also be about something that affects you. Take notes and be prepared to give an answer if spoken to.

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Show initiative

If you get the chance to use your initiative – go for it. Remember it’s a learning experience. Ask for some tasks to get started on and when you’re finished, see if there is anything else you can help with. 

About me

Be tidy

Nobody’s there to pick up your used coffee mug or tidy up a meeting room after you. Make sure you do not leave your mess behind.​​​​​​​


Add it to your CV

Keep a note of the work you do, the skills you learned and the strengths you used. And do not forget to ask for a reference when you leave. 

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Say thank you

Explain what you learned during your time there and thank them for the opportunity - you never know the role they might play in your future career.

What to do after your work experience

If you've finished your work experience, it's time to add it to your CV. Learn how to build and make your CV shine with our advice and top tips.