Work experience

The idea of “work experience” rather than actual work is to give you a taste of working life in a particular business or organisation.  It is normally short (a day or a week) and unpaid. It can:

  • help you decide whether this is the sort of work that might interest you in the future
  • inspire you with ideas and plans
  • give you useful contacts and information
  • help to show potential employers or universities/colleges that you have an interest in a particular area

Your school or college may have an organised work experience programme.  If you get the chance to take part, try to choose something that is worthwhile and relevant for you and your interests. (Don’t forget you won’t get paid, so you need to get something else out of it.)

If you want to organise your own work experience, try:

  • looking at the wide range of work experience opportunities on Student Ladder
  • seeing what businesses and companies operate locally in areas which interest you – a quick internet search will normally give lots of material
  • asking everybody you know

If you are applying for an established work experience programme, such as those listed on Student Ladder, you will normally have to complete an application form. Make sure you do this as carefully and accurately as possible.

If you are making contact with a local business which does not offer a formal work experience, you will need to send a brief CV with a covering letter explaining why you would like the experience and when you are available. The best method is by e-mail. Try to contact a named person rather than using a generic e-mail address – look at the organisation’s website or Facebook page for details of directors or managers.


  • businesses or organisations won’t normally arrange your transport, meals or accommodation, so choose places you can get to easily
  • be as helpful and enthusiastic as you can during your work experience; you will get much more out of it if you make an effort, and you could get a reference which will help you in future

You might be interested in our other pages on work:

Get a job
Discover the joys of work