How to get a work experience placement you'll love
Whatever career you're interested in, it's worth dipping your toe in the water to see what it's like IRL. But how do you make sure you're not stuck stuffing envelopes or making endless cups of coffee? Here are some tips to make sure you get the placement you want.
Start off by thinking about the area you’d like experience in, and what kind of experience you want. You might get to be more hands-on if you work in a smaller company, but having a recognisable brand name on your CV can open doors in the future. Spend some time figuring out which is more important to you.
List the companies that work in that area, and prioritise them by how feasible it is for you to get work experience there – do they have an office near you? Do you know anyone that works there? Do you have some relevant experience that you can tell them about? Pick a top ten, and now do some serious research. Check out their website to see if they have any info about how to apply for work experience, or a staff list that shows who you should approach.
Don’t be intimidated by the size of your dreams – if you want to do work experience at the very best company, approach them and see what they say. There are plenty of big companies that offer work experience. British Airways offers engineering placements, where you’ll be part of looking after a fleet of over 300 aircraft, managing 2,000 aircraft turnarounds. If you fancy working in a lab developing the next generation of healthcare, check out the opportunities at GlaxoSmithKline. Rolls Royce have locations around the UK, and if you fancy trying your hand at computer game development, Sony PlayStation advertise roles on their Twitter feed.
Show you’re keen
There’s no better way to demonstrate enthusiasm for an industry than to show you’ve already gone and got some experience in the area. If you’re interested in computer coding, digital product design or engineering, find a local hackathon. They’re a place to learn, experiment and pass on your knowledge and are for anyone with digital skills. Normally held over a weekend, they generally pose a problem, like ‘How can we help teens be safer?’, and then design and build apps and programmes to fix it.
It’s all experience
If you finish your placement and decide it’s not the job for you, that’s fine. It’s a million times better to have tried it and ruled it out, than to have trained for years for that position and then to find out. It’s worth also remembering that if you’re interested in applying for a maths course at university, you won’t be expected to have maths-related work experience, just to demonstrate that you’ve got an interest in the subject. So, if you end up doing work experience somewhere heaps of fun but unrelated to maths, don’t worry!