How to Set Up Work Experience
Choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in your lifetime. But how do you know you're making a smart selection? In some cases, the process can seem about as informed as throwing a dart at the wall and seeing what sticks. However, there is a way to make a more informed choice: work experience. Let's take a closer look at this growing trend, along with how to go about setting up work experience of your own.
The Lowdown on Work Experience
Work experience is exactly what it sounds like. This process gives students contemplating a particular career the unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience "in the shadow" of a working professional in the sought after field. The process -- a form of extended interview -- yields helpful information into jobs, careers, and industries which might be otherwise unattainable through secondhand sources.
Work experience offers a multitude of rewards -- from helping you determine a career plan to showing sought after initiative on your college applications. Ultimately, students who participate in job shadowing experiences are more prepared to answer the question, "Can I see myself in this job?"
Finding Work Experience Opportunities
Some schools offer work experience weeks. Check in with a teacher or careers advisor to learn more about your options.
If your school doesn't have a programme, parents can play a useful role in helping students identify and secure potential work experience opportunities.
If you're at university, check in with the Career Services office. Many higher education institutions leverage their extensive networks of community members and alumni to offer a breadth and depth of work experience opportunities you may not otherwise get. Schedule an appointment with the Career Services office to find out what's available.
Once you have identified an ideal shadowing experience, send a formal letter or email requesting the opportunity. Scheduling may be difficult: remember, you're working with a busy professional who is accommodating your request so be prepared to be flexible. Also, allow plenty of time -- at least a few weeks -- as a courtesy.
Tips and Tricks for Positive Work Experience
Before showing up on the first day, take time to research the company where you'll be. This will help you hit the ground running while also making a positive impression.
Also keep in mind that while shadowing one person delivers a single view of life in a particular career, shadowing multiple people working at different types of organisations offers a comprehensive, "big picture" viewpoint. If possible, take advantage of multiple work experience opportunities.
While finding and setting up work experience can be an intensive process, it's a fast-track for students looking to gain valuable insights into prospective careers.