It is the job that every secondary school student dreads. Turning up at an unknown workplace and being intimidated by the ‘big shots’ of the company, followed by sitting at a desk and spending 6 hours stapling papers together and fetching tea for the employees.
It’s not an ideal way to spend your summer or winter holidays, but it is making an impression that really counts. Whether your gaining experience in PR, Journalism, Medicine or Law it is vital to make your mark on the company you are lucky enough to work for. The most important part of your work experience journey is getting there. Here are my top 5 tips on how to secure work experience.
- Figure out what your main interests for a career are. It is difficult to know what you want to do from a secondary school student angle, but narrow down your interests, research different career paths and figure out a section that you wish to explore.
- Start researching companies that fit your chosen section of jobs, type into Google, (for example) ‘PR Firms’ or ‘Dental Practices’, and make a list of email addresses and contact numbers.
- Get on the phone, or on your email and start taking action. Tell the company about yourself and send off your CV’s, tell them you are enthusiastic and keen to learn from those more experienced than yourself. Maybe even attach a cover letter with your CV to show you are committed.
- The key aspect to securing work experience is to keep going, it is very likely that many firms will already have interns and work experience students so they may be full. But don’t let that get you down, you have to carry on. Keep researching places to go and contact as many people as you can.
- It is also likely that your school will have links with certain business people and can help you! Speak to family members and family friends who may know people, and start networking.
Once you have managed to get your work experience, you have to be professional. ALWAYS turn up 15 minutes before the manager has told you to arrive at the workplace. Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination, being late is never ideal. Dress smartly, never go over the top, girls, be modest and sophisticated. It is important that you come prepared, so bring a notepad and pen so you can start making notes of things going on around you.
Be friendly, introduce yourself to the people around you, tell them a bit about yourself, and tell them you are on hand if they need anyone to do anything for them. Always have a smile on your face, even if you’re bored. Ask your fellow workers questions so you show you are interested and keen. You will not be given amazing tasks to do, the typical things they will get you do, is making tea, going out to top up on food in the staff kitchen and stapling things together and sorting out unwanted emails.
The key part to work experience, is that you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. No one can expect to turn up at work experience and be given tasks that the big shots get given. Always offer your services, even a simple ‘does anyone want a drink’ while your on your way to kitchen, shows that you are friendly and willing to do small jobs and to make a mark.
Once your work experience has come to an end, thank everyone at the office for allowing you to be there. Take some emails down and tell the employers that you would love to work for them again and you are available out of school hours if they need some extra help. Finally, always send a thank you email to show how grateful you are as politeness is key.
The most significant part of work experience is to get out of the classroom and throw yourself into an unusual, work related environment, it can teach you that, after all, you do not want to work in that type of company, or that you love it and want to aspire to become successful in that sector. Just keep a smile on your face, be punctual and polite and try and secure more experience for your next school holiday.