How Work Experience Can Kick-Start Your Career

Year 10's Work Placements, March 2018

The job market is a competitive place so relevant work experience can help to set you apart from other candidates vying for the same job. Employers look at how prepared candidates are for the world of work in terms of their level of knowledge about their chosen career and general business awareness.

Young people can have an idea of the career they’d like to pursue when they leave school, but with no experience of working in their desired environment how can they know it will actually be right for them? The best way to know if the job that appeals to you is the right one is to get into that work place, see what actually happens, ask questions and find out what a ‘typical’ day is like. It can also be an opportunity to narrow a career option down to a more specific job role. It’s a way of sampling different jobs without committing to one. It also offers a chance to identify and develop the skills you already possess, pick up new skills and highlight the ones you might want/need to build on.

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Initially, arriving at a work experience placement can be daunting, but that in itself impresses potential employers – it demonstrates motivation, commitment and a willingness to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Making a good first impression, our year 10 students have just had two weeks’ work experience. The feedback we have received from the employers who kindly accommodated their placements has been wonderful; reinforcing what a positive impact work experience can have in regard to confidence, skill-building, networking and general employability.

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Work experience is a useful networking exercise as it offers students the chance to meet contacts that may be advantageous when they are ready to enter the world of work. Enthusiasm, a willingness to help and learn all make for a positive work placement experience. Even when asked to do menial tasks, you should do them with a smile. Being keen to listen and do what’s asked of you even when you know it’s not a job role you want to pursue, often gives employers an idea of other roles within their business or industry where you will be a good fit. The contacts you make may then be inclined to get in touch when a suitable role comes up in the future.

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When companies are recruiting they expect certain behaviour and whilst all students should behave in school, there can be additional or different expectations in the workplace so work experience gives young people an idea of how to conduct themselves professionally. Having adult conversations with adults can be tricky for shy youngsters so a work placement offers a short-term picture before they have to enter a working environment permanently. Experience of dealing with different types of people and different situations makes the interview process less scary and helps with the transition from a school environment to a working one.

So, work experience is about so much more than having something to put on your CV; it could kick start your career (although it does look good on your CV too!

Well done year 10. Here’s what your employers had to say:

“I would like to let you know how fantastic Tania has been during the last two weeks. She has been really helpful and has gone above and beyond. I can rely on her to make sure my pupils are always learning and behaving appropriately.” Cath Dowds (Crumpsall Lane nursery teacher)

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“I work at North Manchester General Hospital in the catering department and we have two Our Lady’s students on work experience – Estelle and Adebayo. I cannot praise these guys enough – such polite young people. I had the pleasure to work one-to-one with Estelle for three hours yesterday showing her all the aspects of the patient food from leaving the department to delivering to the ward etc. She was full of questions which is always good. She isn’t shy at all. Such a beautiful pair – what a credit to the school.”
Caroline Holland

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“We have had the pleasure of having Julia Roczniak on work experience for the last two weeks and felt we must let you know what an absolute asset she has been. Julia was a little shy at first but soon settled and has been very attentive and shown a good willingness to learn. We are impressed with her ability to listen, understand and accurately complete the tasks set for her, and most importantly, her commitment to arrive on time every day despite having over an hours commute.
You should be very proud of your student and we have no hesitation in providing a reference for any future employer.”
Edward Jackson, CEJ Builders

“Robert has been fantastic during the whole placement: punctual, smartly dressed, asking for extra work when he’s completed his tasks and that he has formed fantastic relationships with the pupils. We would hire him if we could!”
St Clare's R.C. Primary School

“We would like to say how well Mia has worked in school. She has worked hard and has been a pleasure to have in school.”
Edwina O’Boyle, Parental Liaison and Pastoral Officer. Little Heaton CE Primary School

“A big thank you to our wonderful work experience students Precious, Elizabeth and Joyce for their hard work.”
St Malachy’s R.C. Primary School

“Edith from Our Lady’s has been on work experience with us learning how to edit a short film, create an animation, write a blog and more.”
Sharp Futures



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