A work experience placement is an excellent way to test drive a career and explore your options while you’re still at school.
Work experience can help you decide what you may (or may not!) want to do when it comes time start your career. It also looks good on your resume as employers love to see examples of skills you’ve learned in the workplace.
But how do you decide on the right work experience placement for you?
The most important tip – know yourself!
It may sound obvious, but you won’t get any value out of work experience if it’s in an industry or role you don’t enjoy. You’d be surprised how many people take a work experience placement because they think that’s what is expected of them – rather than because they are passionate about that actual job.
If you find kids more annoying than cute, childcare probably isn’t the best bet. If you get woozy at the sight of blood, perhaps nursing isn’t for you. If maths isn’t your strong point, maybe reconsider that accounting placement.
Secondly – do your research
When it comes time to apply for a work experience placement, make sure you’ve researched the company you’ve chosen. Employers are more likely to respond to a request for work experience when they can see you’ve taken the time to find out more about their organisation.
Be aware! As a rule, the larger the company is, the less work experience students they can take on each year. That means these spots can be in quite high demand so make sure you plan well ahead and don’t miss out!
Thirdly – don’t let the pressure get to you
It’s true that work experience can provide you with employment skills and valuable insight into a potential career. But there is one big myth when it comes to work experience that we want to bust for you.
Choosing a work experience placement doesn’t mean you have to know right now what you want to do with the rest of your life. It also doesn’t mean you’re locked into that career choice forever.
Work experience is designed to give you a firsthand look at just one of your future options. If you love it– great! If you don’t – that’s also great! You still have plenty of time to decide what you want to do when you finish school. And honestly – sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do want to do.
Finally – ask for support
Feeling a bit lost? Ask for support from family, friends or anyone else you feel comfortable with or look up to. This may even be a local business owner you know and respect, your sporting coach or a youth group leader. Often the people closest to us know us better than we know ourselves and may therefore be able to suggest career options for you that you may not have considered.
This same support crew can also provide valuable tips based on their own experiences. Remember – they’ve been there, done that so they will be able to share how they discovered their career path and give you useful advice for following your own aspirations. It’s also a great way to build a network of people with contacts across various industries and professions who may be able to help you get your foot in the door.
Last but definitely not least – make sure you also schedule a time to chat with your career advisor about the things you enjoy doing. They will be able to discuss your career options and let you know about possible professions you may not have thought of based on your likes – and your dislikes!
Just remember – work experience is the no-risk way to find the right career path for you.
Sounds far less overwhelming when we put it like that, doesn’t it? All that’s left to do now is to go for it!
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