Securing your work experience placement
Work experience is a great opportunity to try out different jobs and different types of workplaces to get an idea of what you might like to do when you finish education. Most employers are eager to help young people get a foot on the ladder but some are unsure of what’s involved. We have information for employers which will help them plan for a placement and we try to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.
Where to start?
Start by thinking about what your interests are and what you think you might be good at. For example, if you love sport, you might want to see what it’s like to work in a gym or with a sports physiotherapist. If you know you want to be helping people you might want to try out a caring profession like healthcare or working with the elderly.
It’s a good idea to brainstorm lots of ideas first. You can do this with friends or family. Get everything down on paper to start.
Check out who does what you’re interested in
If you’re really not sure how your interests match up with different jobs, some of the websites like the National Careers Service, icould or Plotr can be helpful (see links at the end). They’ve got lots of profiles on different jobs. These will help you define what it is you’re keen to explore.
Once you know you’re interested in a particular type of work, you need to see who does this in your area. You can search Google or look in the yellow pages. There’s a directory of companies at cambridgedirectory.co.uk. It’s always worth checking to see if they have a website so you can learn more about the company before approaching them. The website might provide details of who to contact about work experience or provide the name of the HR Manager if they have one. That’s a good person to target.
Also, talk to your classmates, family and friends and ask around. That’s called networking and it’s a really good way of finding out what’s out there. Someone may be able to introduce you to someone who can provide a placement.
Don’t assume that the big companies in Cambridge won’t have you. Many are willing to offer work placements if you send a polite, well-written letter.
Once you’ve identified a few ideas, done your research and have a contact, draft a letter that explains who you are, what you’re interested in and why you’re asking for work experience. Tell them the dates you’re available. Hopefully they will respond, but if you don’t hear anything after two weeks, you can follow up with a phone call to check that your letter was received and see if they were able to offer you a placement.
If they do, let school know immediately so we can start the process of confirming and checking the placement. They may want to interview you, so let the school know about that, too.
Don’t be discouraged if they say no. Just keep trying new possibilities and keep the school posted on your progress.
Lots of employers tell us they really hate it when parents ring up and try to arrange placements for their children. While sometimes it’s difficult for students to use the phone during the working day, employers would so much prefer to hear from students themselves.
If you’re curious about a business but not sure you feel comfortable approaching them, why not go and have a look. You can always ask in person. If they can’t answer, ask for the name of the person they should write to. Be sure to look smart if you’re going to approach them directly.
Make sure you proof read your letter – or get someone else to. Showing that you’re conscientious about spelling and punctuation is a good indication that you’ll be conscientious when you’re on a placement.
You need to get agreement and return your form to school by January 30th.
National Careers Service https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobfamily/Pages/default.aspx
From the Job Families page you can either type a job name into the box or search through the ‘families’. This website should give lots of information and links to other websites.
This has some good videos with people talking about what they do and it has profiles on a range of organisations from companies as diverse as Waitrose or Williams (F1).
Lots of insight into different careers and a career wizard to help you get ideas.
This is another site which just shows short films with people talking about the job they do. If you click on all films on the home page, there’s a vertical list of roles. Not as comprehensive as the National Careers Service site but it’s nice to hear someone speak about their job.
Comberton Village CollegeWest Street, Comberton,Cambridgeshire CB23 7DU