Larger employers tend to offer the best work experience placements as they have Personnel departments to manage their placements as well as the resources to offer an interesting placement where you can attend meetings, go on site visits, etc. This can be compared to work experience in a small business where they may be too busy to look after you and won't have a specific programme in place to develop your skills and give you an insight into their industry.
If you do want to go into a popular industry, remember that competition is tough and that you will need to apply for places early as well as be able to show why you would be suited to the role.
The most popular work experience placements include:
Primary and secondary schools often allow students to do work experience placements in their classrooms. Start by contacting some of the schools in your local area by sending them your CV and tailored cover letter. You may even be able to do your placement in your own school, working in classes with younger students. For more information about teaching work experience, check out the Department for Education’s Get Into Teaching website.
One of the most popular industries for work experience is marketing and public relations (PR). If you can see yourself working in a job that involves the promotion and marketing of brands and events, then this could be a good option for you. Start by contacting some local marketing and PR companies - you can find them by Googling them, then move on to contacting digital agencies or newspapers.
Places like television studios, radio stations, production companies and newspapers often take on work experience students. There are many different roles within the media but bear in mind that competition is high. If you live near to a major media outlet, then you could consider making enquiries about placements with them. Alternatively, you should think local and try contacting radio stations and newspapers for opportunities. If you live in London, then you might want to check out the Work for Sky website whilst the BBC offers work experience placements in London and Salford and amongst their local offices. ITV and Channel 4 also offer work experience placements thoughout the year.
How do you fancy being the next Tom Ford or Victoria Beckham? If you’re looking for work experience in fashion, opportunities in retail, merchandising, hair and beauty or photography studios are a good place to start. The Fashion Workie website offers a list of current work placement opportunities whilst lots of high street stores offer student work experience placements but these are limited and usually based in London.
Art & Design
If you’re a creative type and enjoy working with different media, then you could look into doing work experience in an artist’s studio, design agency or art gallery. Art & Design is a wide-ranging field and includes a lot of different job roles that you may not have thought of before. In working in a studio or gallery you'll learn how the business of galleries and buying and selling art functions and how exhibitions are curated. A design agency shows you how you can put your skills to good use in an office environment.
You might also like to think about Art therapy, and how you can use your skills to help others, with work experience available within community projects or via the NHS.
The finance sector is huge and there are various different jobs within the industry. Places like banks, building societies and accountancy firms regularly take students with structured work experience programmes. Your best bet is to Google them and find a programme near you and send off your detaisl. Remember that this sector is particularly competitive, so make sure your CV and covering letter is tailored specifically towards a career in finance.
Law is another popular industry that's hard to get into. Find small solicitor firms near you and if they don't have a formal placement application process find the contact details of the person in charge of recruitment, or go in and speak to them personally. If you can't find a placement at a solicitors you could try the Citizens' Advice Bureau which takes on volunteers studying law while charities also require volunteers to give out legal advice so you could see if you could work alongside them.
The NHS is made up of over 300 HNS organisations across England and each is responsible for arranging work experience. This means that to find an opportunity you'll need to contact the NHS trusts in your area. You can ask to speak to the human resources, voluntary services or education and training departments, and they'll be able to give you some guidance. Your school or college might already have agreements with the local NHS around work experience placements so you could ask your careers advisor for more information.
Some health services can be private, for example dentists, pharmacies and physiotherapists, so if you can't find a placement within the NHS you could look at working with a local, private organisation.
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