Work experience involves spending time with a real employer, working alongside employees. It is a great way to experience the roles and responsibilities of real jobs.
Most people get some work experience before they start seeking work.
Work Experience while at school
In Oxfordshire most schools arrange work experience for their Year 10 or Year 12 Students. They will help you find a one or two week placement. Sometimes you may have to seek out a placement yourself. Lots of different employers offer work placements to students.
Experience: I was grateful to be given the chance to find out about the service and be able to develop my IT skills. I also got to learn how to work in the office environment and to be more independent when tasks were set. -Bonnie, 15
Work experience while job-seeking
Work experience isn’t just for when you’re at school. Doing work experience, volunteering, or an internship lets you get more experience for your CV. You can gain work readiness skills such as:
- Working well with other people
- Responding well to advice or criticism
- Managing your time
- Writing, IT or technical skills
- Commitment and motivation.
You can get work experience through volunteering, Traineeships, ready-for work programmes (ask your JobCentre+ advisor or a worker at a NEET drop-in or Job Club), and through local Training Providers.
Crucial: Doing work experience is useful, but you must also be in learning until you are 18.
Gap Years, Summer Schemes and Internships
Because work experience is so important, there are lots of different choices for young people. Work experience can pay a low wage, just expenses, or be voluntary. Some, like NCS, can be done alongside learning, but others, like a Gap Year, would require a break from learning.
What you decide to do doesn't need to be related to your chosen career, if you have one. When thinking about placements, consider:
- Why do I want to work in this place/industry/role?
- What am I going to get out of my placement?
You might feel that you must pass up interesting opportunities because you need to earn money, but any work experience is valuable if you take full advantage of the opportunities.
If you would like some more advice and guidance on how to gain work experience that boosts your CV, take a read of our guest article from the CV library.
Experience: Most people have some breaks in employment when they are moving from learning to work, applying for jobs, between short contracts or waiting for agency , but don't worry, you can turn this to your advantage. Although work experience is unpaid, you might get expenses or free training. You always gain something from your work experience, even if it’s realising you never want to work in that industry! Whatever job you take on, record the responsibilities you had and anything you learnt from them to add to your CV - Hattie
Work experience with oxme.info
Every year, young people from Oxfordshire schools work on oxme.info as part of our work experience scheme at Oxfordshire County Council . Young people have worked on development, design, user testing, creating content, as well as doing tasks on other projects and in other parts of the team, including Oxfordshire's National Citizen Service, the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, Oxfordshire E-Safety plan and more.
If you would like to do work experience with oxme.info, then speak to the work experience coordinator at your school. Here's a piece one of our work experience student wrote in 2016:
My name is Liam Mackenzie, I’m 15 years old and I have spent a fantastic week doing work experience for the Youth Engagement and Opportunities team at Oxford County Council.
After receiving my placement from my school, I wrote a letter to the team confirming and thanking them for my placement. I received an e-mail within the next three days containing all the information about my placement, including what I would be doing. I was really excited as it was an opportunity to try and learn completely new things.
I was quite nervous before I started but upon meeting the Youth Engagement and Opportunities team I was warmly welcomed. I was first given a quick tour of the building and was pleasantly surprised by it as you can’t really see in from the outside so I didn’t know what to expect. Before starting work, I had to complete some training courses which took about two hours in total. Although this sounds like a long time, the courses were quite interesting as they were full of information I didn’t know before.
Throughout the week I learnt loads of new skills such as creating and editing posts for the website and how to use lots of programs that are used regularly in the office. I really enjoyed my time here! The working environment is also great. The desks are spacious and the chairs are really comfy! The office is also quite peaceful when compared to school which is really great.
There is a great sense of independence as you can make lots of decisions about your work and choose when you take your breaks. It’s also great to open all the doors using the temporary pass you will be given at the start of each day.
I would recommend applying for work experience at the Youth Engagement and Opportunities Team no matter what your interests are. It’s great fun and is a fantastic opportunity to learn lots of new skills and perfect older ones. It feels completely different to school and is a great break from the school environment to try something new.
If you would like to do work experience with oxme.info, then speak to the work experience coordinator at your school.