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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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4 The practicalities of work experience for you

Photo of several clocks.
Figure 7 Finding time for work experience

Finding the right work experience might involve you working in your spare time. If you want to teach, for example, it is important to spend time in a classroom before applying for teacher training. If you already have a full time job, you may have to consider using part of your annual leave.

You need to be creative but realistic in assessing options. Organise work experience that suits you and your career plans. Your time is precious, so use it constructively and be realistic about what you can take on. However, work experience need not be full time or even long term. It might be occasional, regular, or even home-based. Local or home-based work experience also has the advantage of requiring little or no travel, so you can have the added benefit of requiring less time and money to undertake it.

Whatever your personal circumstances, for most people making initial approaches can feel daunting, so it can be very helpful to rehearse how you might do this. The next activity is designed to help you with this.

Activity 4 Approaching people about work experience opportunities

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Imagine that you want to approach an employer, about finding work experience you think would be helpful to you. It is useful to have a particular employer or contact person in mind because this helps you to think about:

  • Should I email them or write?
  • Should I telephone or speak face-to-face?
  • What should I say to them about why I have approached them?
  • What questions should I ask, about what they have to offer?

In your notebook write down how you would introduce the topic of work experience and what questions you might want to ask them in a first conversation. You may never send the specific email you write here, or say the exact words you write down, but just the act of writing them down prepares you for a real approach.