Work experience and virtual work experience are essential for preparing you for the world of work. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about a certain role and motivate you for the future while also boosting employability skills.
What is work experience?
So first off, what is work experience? Work experience is the knowledge and experience you build while working in a particular role and industry. They are usually short term and are delivered in one of the following ways:
- A one or two-week block placement with an employer
- Job-shadowing in the workplace
- Industry visits
- Summer programmes
- Digital or virtual work experience programmes
Why do work experience?
Work experience is different from the environment you’re used to at school. Young people entering the world of work, will work alongside people from various backgrounds and ages.
By gaining experiences of a workplace, you’ll discover the roles that you enjoy and whether it’s the career path you want to follow. In turn, this will help you to set goals as a particular role might require certain grades or qualifications to meet the entry requirements. This will keep you focused and motivated during revision and exam preparation.
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
Other reasons for committing to work experience include:
- Get a glimpse into the role and industry you might like to work in
- Understand different roles and the career paths to enter the role
- Stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs and university
- Relate future job applications to the experience and skills you’ve gained in the workplace
- Connect school and college subjects to the workplace
- Meet new people for networking
- Boost future employment prospects
How to decide on a work experience programme?
Ask yourself ‘what type of job roles interests me?’ For some, you may already know the answer to this. For others, you might still be a little unsure. Don’t panic! You don’t need to have it all figured out just yet but it’s a good idea to start thinking about it.
If you already know what job role you’d like to enter, you should apply for work experience related to that role. For example:
- You want to become a nurse, you could explore work experience programmes within the NHS.
- You want to be a chef, you could ask local restaurants or apply for work experience at large food chains.
- You would like a career in accountancy, you could ask local accounting firms or apply for a work experience programme with the likes of BDO or PwC.
If you’re still unsure about what career you would like to enter, visit our Career Guides so you can research what it’s like working within different sectors.
Think about the subjects you enjoy at school:
- If you enjoy English, then a career in journalism, marketing or publishing might be right up your street.
- Perhaps you enjoy Math then a career in engineering, banking or accountancy could be for you
- If you have a love of Science, then working in laboratories, as a vet or nurse could be the perfect match.
*Our posters linking curriculum learning to careers can also be spotted around schools and colleges, so check these out for inspiration!
Where to find work experience?
Now you have considered the type of programme that you might be interested in, it’s time to find one!
First off, think about the following:
- Are there any friends, family or neighbours that work at an organisation that offers the type of work experience I am looking for?
- Am I looking for virtual work experience or in person work experience?
- Would I like to work for a small medium enterprise (SME) or large organisation?
If you’re looking for local opportunities, you can do a web search, explore Yell, Google My Business or Thomson Local.
Don’t forget, some schools and colleges may be able to support you with finding work experience programmes so it might be worth an ask too! You can also check your councils careers page to see if there are any work experience opportunities on there.
There are also a number of organisations that connect young people to work experience opportunities such as:
Movement to Work: https://www.movementtowork.com/
Founders 4 Schools: https://www.founders4schools.org.uk/
Speakers 4 Schools: https://www.speakersforschools.org/
If you are looking at joining a larger organisation, we’ve compiled a list of just some of the employers who offer work experience programmes below:
Location: East of England
Find out about jobs in: Water parks, human resources, water recycling, leakage & water networks, wholesale & customer service, information services & IT, finance, scientific, environmental, brand & communication
As a student on work experience at Anglian Water, you will get stuck in with the team and help to make a real difference, plus you’ll be gaining employability skills ready for your future!
Where possible, our dedicated recruitment team will try to find a place for you that suits your preferences.
Location: Across the UK
Find out about jobs in: engineering; HR & finance; cyber; healthcare; combat; music; logistics
The Army has 4-day residential work experience programmes running across the UK for 14-18 year olds. You’ll get a taste of Army life, developing team-building, confidence and leadership skills.
Find out more about jobs in: Business, Engineering, AIR, Applied Intelligence, Electronic Systems, Land, Maritime Naval Ships, Maritime Services, Maritime Submarines and Shared Services
Work experience is a great way to consider your career choices and give you a better view of opportunities available. You’ll get a taste of the possibilities on offer and a chance to develop the experience, skills and behaviours employers are looking for.
Date: 1-5th August 2022
Find out more about jobs in: Accountancy
We’ve created the Explore BDO Virtual Insight Programme for students in years 11-12 who are from low socio-economic backgrounds to show them what’s exciting about a career at BDO. They’ll get to join a range of virtual sessions, meet our senior leaders and industry experts whilst developing professional skills that they can add to their CV. It’s a great springboard into our school leaver apprenticeship programme.
Location: Woking, Holborn, Sale, Aston, Glasgow, Nairnor Telford
Date: Applications for next year will open in Dec 2022
Find out more about jobs in: Business, consulting, professional services, technology
Spend a week in a world class digital organisation. Capgemini work experience is a great way to gain skills and experience.
Location: Check with your local NHS organisation
Find out more about jobs in a wide variety of roles
Any kind of caring or customer service experience is useful when applying for an NHS job or apprenticeship. But check out our tips for young people on finding work experience in the NHS.
Location: South West
Find out more about jobs in: Engineering and construction, corporate business, science and the environment
To give students an insight into the inner workings of a water and sewerage company, we offer a unique week-long work experience programme. Depending on the pathway you select, your week will involve working across five different departments that fall within your chosen pathway.
Location: Across the UK
Find out more about jobs in: Construction
Work experience is a great way to get an insight into working at Willmott Dixon and is an ideal opportunity to experience the different jobs available, whether you are new to the world of work or looking for a change in career.
National Work Experience Week: 24th-28th April
Students, parents and teachers can all explore a mixture of live and interactive discussions and CPD webinar events with employers as well as gaining virtual workplace insights.
Whether you want to gain an understanding of a particular sector, find out what it’s like to work for a leading employer or sign up to one of their work experience programmes, this is a great taster session to get your foot in the door.
Keep up to date, sign up now!