A Brief Guide to Making the Most of Work Experience

With the new term approaching, many Year 10 students will be starting to think about work experience and who they will approach to secure their placement in the summer term. However, getting experience of the work place isn’t exclusively for Year 10 students. As the WORKS website explains, research suggests that young adults who have four or more experiences of work while at school are five times more likely to engage in further education, employment and training. They earn, on average, 16% more than their peers who had no such experiences. For this reason, education providers and employers should be working together to ensure that there are as many opportunities across the city as possible, and that young people are informed and supported to seek out opportunities that are right for them.

In light of this, here is some Bristol WORKS guidance that we can share with our young people as they start to think about getting a placement that really suits them.

1. Make a list of your skills, personal attributes and experience

When applying for a role, you will always be asked about your suitability. Therefore, it’s useful to really think about what you’re good at and how you know. Think about your strengths in certain subjects at school or perhaps what you’re good at when taking part in an extra-curricular club. You should also consider your experience outside of these areas, too. For example, have you ever had a part-time job, done any volunteering or helped a family member or friend out with a problem? All of these things will have offered you some learning and developed your skills and experience. Don’t forget your personality, though. Perhaps you’re a good communicator or have a great sense of humour. If so, these are traits that will go far in the work-place.

2. Be active and do some research

Once you have considered what your skills are, do some research about different sectors. There are probably areas of work out there that you’d never even thought of. Often we tend to know the jobs of our parents and family friends, why not investigate and find out about new sectors and job roles.

As a starting point, Career Pilot have developed a fun quiz that matches skills to sectors. It’s a good starting point so why not try it?

3. Don’t waste time. Get in touch sooner rather later.

There are certain sectors that are very popular so you have to get in touch early. The creative industries have lots of requests for work experience and so their waiting lists are long. If you’d like to secure a placement for the summer term, get in touch now. Icon Films, as well as many other organisations, have a great work experience programme but they book up months in advance. Take a look at how you can get in touch here.

4. Communication is Key

Whether you’re sending an introductory email, writing an application, or taking part in an induction during the placement, it is important to communicate clearly and effectively. Ensure that you draft all emails and applications and check them for any errors. It’s important to make a positive impression and demonstrate that you’re keen. Why not get someone else to check them and offer some feedback. When on the placement have the confidence to ask questions, seek out new tasks and communicate your initiative. It works in your favour to show you want to progress and learn.

It’s also great to talk to as many people as possible. Try and introduce yourself to people from the departments you work in. If it’s appropriate, find out what what their role involves and how they got into it. These people might be useful contacts in the future!

5. Once the placement is over.

Towards the end of your placement, try and reflect about what you did and the skills you developed. This will help when applying for any opportunities in the future. Think about what you would like to do next and how you can use this experience to help you with apply.

Why not send a thank you email afterwards. Taking on a young person for work experience takes quite a lot of coordination. Sending a thank you email, shows that you have appreciated the time and can leave a lasting impression of you and your placement.


If you’re an employer and you’d like to offer experience of work but you’re unsure what that means and how to do it, then why not start by looking at our Bristol WORKS Framework. Each activity we help to facilitate is broken down by Employer, Education Provider and Young Person, and aims to offer guidance about what the activity is and what you may want to consider if you’d like to get involved.