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Unfortunately, it's pretty tough to find work experience, especially if you have other commitments and can't work somewhere too far from the family home. 

Friends and Family

If this is the case ask around. Speak to friends and family and let them know that you are looking for work experience in a particular area - they might be in the line of work you are interested in or they might just know someone who does the job you are looking for and can offer you work experience. You could ask them who the best person to approach about work experience would be and then write them a letter. Many companies will only offer work experience to employees’ family or friends.

However, if you’ve gotten a work experience placement through a friend or family member remember that you are not there for the ride - build your confidence by getting involved in as many activities as possible and make the effort to come out of your comfort zone and speak to the other members of staff. You’ll gain a lot more in the long run in this way.

Scouring the Internet

If there’s nothing that takes your fancy at school, look in the Yellow Pages or online at Yell.com (or something similar) under listings for the type of business you are interested in working for nearby. This is a real chance for you to use your initiative, which is experience in itself which you’ll need when you apply for full-time jobs in the future.

If this is the case, you may need to set up new links with a company, obtaining their contact details, but this takes time, so make sure that you start planning your work experience early.

JobCentre Plus

If you’re 16 to 24 and you’re receiving Jobseeker's Allowance you can get work experience through JobCentre Plus. Work experience can last between two to eight weeks and you'll normally be expected to work between 25 and 30 hours a week. You may also be able to get help from JobCentre Plus for costs related to work experience, for example for travel or childcare. 

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How should I ask a company for work experience?

However you’ve found your work experience contacts, you will need to speak to them.  Make a list of the companies you’d like to approach - it’s likely that you won’t hear back from many of them, so it’s best to keep your options open with a few, perhaps even more than ten, that you want to contact.

Call them

Firstly call or visit them in person to see whether they might be able to organise a work experience placement for you. If you go into see them in person, try to look smart as even this impression will count. They’ll say whether it would be feasible - don’t be too disheartened if they can’t accommodate you - and let you know what you need to do next.

It’s likely that they’ll ask for your CV and an accompanying cover letter explaining a bit about you and what you’d like to get out of your work experience. If you’ve not been able to call them or visit them, your next best option would be to send in your CV and cover letter via email.

Make sure that whatever way you contact them, tell them why you would like to work there in particular, as it shows you’ve done your research and would really like the opportunity. For more information about how to create the ideal CV and cover letter for work experience please see our cover letters and CV pages.

It’s also best of you can find the name of a specific person to contact within the company. Don’t send your name to the generic company email as there’s less of a chance they’ll email you back.

And call again

Unfortunately, you’ll find that lots of companies won’t have time to reply to your emails, letters and calls and make ignore them. Make a note of when you first emailed, who you spoke to on the phone or in person, or when you wrote to them and every week follow this up with another phone call or email. Although this might sound like a bit too much badgering, it will show that you are interested, positive and enthusiastic.

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