“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein.
Einstein wasn’t wrong when he advocated for the crucial benefits of gaining experience – and work experience is no different!
Work experience can help set you up for success in your desired future career path, and it can also help you develop better expectations around what specific roles and companies are like. Beyond your personal development, work experience looks great on your resume and helps signal to potential employers that you’ve got the skills and knowledge to commit to work successfully.
Wins all round!
What are some of the ways to find work experience?
There are a few key ways to find out about work experience opportunities for young people:
- Through your school and work experience programs
- Through placement programs offered directly by companies
- Through ‘speculative’ approaches (calling or emailing employers to enquire about work experience)
- Through online sites like us! We collate jobs and opportunities with our employer partners for you to search through.
The methods you use will depend on what’s available to you, but we definitely suggest trying a few to get you on the right track.
How do you get started with work experience?
It can feel daunting, especially if you’ve had no work experience before! But making a start is the hardest part – once you get stuck in, you’ll quickly see how valuable and rewarding work experience can be.
In our quick, easy guide, we’re sharing five easy ways to get started:
1. Get the word out there
One of the best ways to find and secure some work experience is through your existing network. Who’s your network? Your parents, family, friends and family of friends, neighbours, and local postie; you get the idea! Speak to the people you know well and tell them you’re interested in getting some work experience and if they know anyone or any ways to help.
It’s essential to be clear about the type of work experience you’re interested in, and when you’d like to do it. Saying you’re ‘open to anything’ can make it harder to pin down specific opportunities.
The more people you have helping and looking out for work experience opportunities for you, the easier it tends to be.
2. Speak to your teachers at school
Hopefully, your school has a dedicated careers teacher or mentor, or maybe they even have someone who coordinates work experience on behalf of students. It’s worth speaking with them directly, letting them know what you’re interested in, and asking for ways to get started.
Even if you don’t, many teachers will be keen to help committed students. Again, be clear about the type of work experience you’re interested in and speak to a few teachers. They might have contacts, know where other students have completed work experience, or be able to help you get in touch with suitable companies.
3. Research the companies you’re interested in
Some companies offer work experience programs and placements, so do your research! Start by researching companies in the area(s) of industry you’re interested in, and then check their websites. If they offer programs, there’ll usually be a dedicated section with all the information and how to apply for you.
If they don’t have it on their website, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t offer anything. Reach out with an email and see what they say. What have you got to lose?
4. Contact employers in the sector you’re interested in
As well as looking up specific employers, you could create a list of all the employers in your local area who work in the industry or areas of work you’re interested in. Once you have this list, you can try calling them or, if possible, pop into their place of business and introduce yourself.
Be clear and straightforward, letting them know you’re interested in a career in their sector and are currently looking for any work experience opportunities they might be able to offer.
This is known as ‘speculative’ job searching and can be a great way to grow your contacts and uncover new opportunities. It works well for work experience, as employers are often impressed by your commitment and ownership to seek out opportunities for yourself.
5. Don’t forget to follow up
If you call or email specific employers about work experience opportunities but don’t hear back, it’s always worth doing a little follow-up to see what they say.
It’s often the case that employers get busy and forget to reply to non-urgent emails or phone calls, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested! A follow-up email or call can remind them of who you are and what you’re looking for, and get a positive response!
When you’re reaching out to potential employers about work experience, make sure you’ve got a polished resume and cover letter ready to go, too – presenting yourself as professional and prepared will help make the right impression with employers!
One of the biggest tips we can offer you when searching for work experience opportunities is not to give up! Make sure you use various methods, stay positive and keep talking to people to let them know you’re keen, committed and what you’re looking for.
See looking for work experience as practice for when it comes to hitting the job market for real – learning about what does and doesn’t work at this stage will help you later on down the track!