Work Experience and Voluntary Placements for Teenagers and College Students
Once you are in your final year of school or college you will be sent out to do some unpaid work experience. Although some schools will just send some teenagers to work in a retailer or fast food restaurant you should really speak to your careers advisor and try to go somewhere that you actually have an interest in. Doing the right kind of work experience to put on your CV can really help when you are looking for a career or trying to get into college or university. Not only is work experience good for your CV but it can help you to explore your chosen industry or career interests and is a great learning experience.
Finding the Right Work Experience Placement
For teenagers that are still in school a work placement will be arranged through their careers advisor. You should always try and get a placement that interests you or arrange your own. Do bear in mind that getting employment with your parents or other family because it’s the easiest option will not really teach you much about the real world.
If you have already left school and are in college then getting some kind of work experience could be part of your syllabus. This will mean that the work or projects that you do for an employer will directly affect the marks you get for completing the course. In this type of situation more often than not your college will set up the working placement for you. Even if work experience is not part of your course then it can still be very beneficial to set up a placement or internship yourself. These types of jobs will normally be full time, last 6 – 12 weeks and will fit in with your holidays or days off. To find an employer who will take you on you could speak to your college careers office, check newspapers for voluntary jobs, check websites and contact potential employers to see if they will take you on. If it’s a specialized job that you’re looking for you could also try the classifieds in trade magazines.
If you want to try really hard you could contact the businesses you’re interested in and try to find out the names of the managers in the department you want to work in. Next send in your CV or an application for the job, people will take more notice of letters and emails if they’re sent directly to them by name.
Are You Interested in Nursing / Medicine?
By volunteering at local hospital or care home you could really make a difference in the lives of other people. You could help out delivering food or playing games with the patients. By taking a placement like this you could really help improve the quality of someone’s life.
Do You Have an Interest in History or Science?
Volunteer or request a placement at your local museum, zoo or aquarium. You could end up feeding the dolphins, elephants or taking part in museum tours. You could also end up helping with paperwork or other administration that needs doing. Before you start make check that there are no age requirements or that you don’t need any specific recommendations.
Do You Want to Work with Animals?
Most animal shelters are crying out for volunteers so you should have no problem finding a placement. It could be messy work though as you may end up walking, playing with or even bathing the animals. You could also try your local Vets are they may require some help.
Do You Want to Work with Children?
If you are thinking about a career working with children then why not volunteer for your local nursery, school. activity day camp, play school, youth club, scouts or football clubs. Most will appreciate the extra help and most will happily accept work experience students. To work with children you need to be patient, caring and organised.
Do You Want to Work on TV / Radio?
Newspapers, TV channels, Radio Stations and other media companies offer work experience placements. The biggest of these include the BBC, Channel 4 and The Guardian Newspaper. There is many more. You must apply early to be in with a chance of being considered for the big companies as they do get a lot of applications. To be in with a better chance you could try local radio stations or newspapers.
Are You Interested in a Career in Law?
You could try contacting a local high street solicitors for a placement. If you or your parents use a family solicitor they may be able to help. You could even try your local Crown or Magistrates courts.
What A Good Employer Should Do For You
A good employer will set objectives, targets or projects for you to complete, provide quality feedback when you leave and record any achievements and skills that you develop. Some companies may also give you a certificate or extra training.
Will You Get Paid for Work Experience?
Usually the answer is no as the experience should be much more valuable to you and your CV than the money. However you may be able to claim travel or other expenses. Some private employers may give you a little bonus if you work really hard for them, although this isn’t guaranteed. It’s definitely worth remembering that experience and the chance to develop your communication skills will be much better down the line than a bit of short term cash in your pocket. You may even get a job offer for the future from your work experience.
What Should I Add to my CV Once the Placement is Finished?
List details about the placement, who you worked with, what you did and how you helped them. If you worked in a high pressure environment where you had to make split second decisions then write this down. Also mention any technical , computer skills, medical or administrative work that you did. Don’t assume that people reading your CV will know what your day to day responsibilities were, make sure they are listed as descriptively as possible.