Work experience is a program designed to give students a taste of what their careers might look like, before they choose their final year subjects.
It’s a smart idea, and it gives you a chance to try out a career you’ve been considering before you tie yourself in to subject selection. Reading about a career, or even hearing stories from people employed in the profession isn’t the same as actually seeing it for yourself. It’s possible that you’ll finish work experience positive about your future, and sure about your choices, but you could also rule out a career if it doesn’t actually suit you.
What is Work Experience
Students generally undertake work experience in Year 9 or 10 (or both), for around a week at a time.
You can complete it in term or in the holidays, your school will know about it, and your ‘employer’ will be asked to report back on how you performed, and if you participated.
Work experience is an opportunity. That means that other people are doing something for your benefit, without asking for anything in return. Once you leave school opportunities like this become more difficult to find, so we always recommend that students should take advantage of work experience.
You won’t be paid for your time, and that’s because generally any work you may perform needs to be supervised and checked. Plus, your ‘employer’ will have invested time and energy into creating an experience solely for your benefit, without expecting anything in return.
You can do work experience as part of your school’s program, or you can source your own work experience. As the job market gets more competitive work experience is becoming the norm for job applicants, and many tertiary students undertake work experience as part of their qualification. So if you’ve missed your school’s program, or the work experience you’ve already done didn’t answer your questions, then see if you can organise some more.
And remember: There are thousands of opportunities across a huge range of industries. But you’ll learn more if you try a job you are seriously considering, rather than choosing the ‘fun’ option. Put simply, if you don’t really want to work with animals then don’t apply to do work experience at the zoo.
Why do you need it
There are many benefits to work experience. Basically, it’s a free opportunity that could help you score a great job.
- People are more likely to hire you if you’ve tried a job and still like it
- It shows you have initiative and can try new things
- You’ll have an opportunity to get a valuable reference from your ‘employer’
- Network, meet potential future employers, find out about their graduate positions or if they offer apprenticeships and traineeships.
So How Do I find work experience?
It's easier than you think...
Look for advertised opportunities
- Either see what is out there and apply for a position – we often share opportunities in our newsletters and if you like the look of something then apply for it;
- Or, search for a position in a field you’re considering.
Do you know someone in an interesting job? If so, perhaps they will host you for a week.
Ask around. Many of the best opportunities aren’t advertised. Try putting together a cover letter and CV then applying as you would for a job. You’re more likely to get a spot, plus you can chalk up some practice at applying for real jobs.
Ask your Careers Advisor or Guidance Counsellor. They’ll have a huge list of work experience opportunities you can take advantage of.
Make the most of every opportunity
Who knows, you might find the career of your dreams. Take the chance to clarify your thoughts and refine your list of possible career options, then use that information to pick your Year 11/12 subjects wisely.
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