Work experience is a vital introduction to the world of work for students, and has many benefits.
It can act as a future career taster and teach you skills that are invaluable to potential employers. There are lots of different ways of obtaining work experience. Your school or college may have links with employers and be able to put you in touch with people who can help advise you on your application.
Many well-known large businesses operate their own work experience programmes. It can be a good idea to speak to the manager or owner, either in person or by phone, before making a formal application. Don’t let the fact that a business does not advertise work experience opportunities put you off from asking if they will take you on. If you are interested in what a business does, it is worth contacting them to see if they would offer you work experience.
Another way to gain valuable, real life experience is through volunteering. Helping others is not just hugely satisfying, it can also help you to make friends and learn new skills. As well as benefitting the wider
community and making a difference to the organisation, it should also make you feel pretty good about yourself. There is a wide range of charities and groups that are always on the lookout for extra pairs of hands, of all ages, even if you can only spareacouple of hours a week.
When considering where to volunteer, think about what you feel most strongly about and then research the different charities and groups in that area in the community. Depending on the organisation you choose, you could volunteer in the evenings, at weekends or in the holidays. If you go to college or university, you may be able to fit time for volunteering around your studies or job.
Opportunities can include activities such as befriending, helping at events, fundraising, conservation activities, providing support to children and older people. You can make a difference to the lives of others, help the environment, or help others less fortunate or without a voice.
As well as volunteering close to home, you could also consider lending a hand overseas. There are many charities on the lookout for extra help with projects abroad such as building schools for disadvantaged people.
Volunteering can help you gain confidence by giving you the opportunity to try something new and build a real sense of achievement. It can help you feel part of something outside of your friends and family and you will meet lots of different people. It will make you feel valued and part of a team. By volunteering, you are doing what you can in order to improve the environment around you.
Through volunteering you can develop skills for the workplace from organisational and time management to communication and the ability to work with different age groups. It may also give you a route to earn qualifications.
A lot of non-profit organisations will offer training to volunteers, which often leads to accreditation too. It can also be a great way to get work experience in your chosen career field and get an insight into the profession. Employers will be impressed that you’ve shown initiative by getting some hands-on experience.
As well as looking good on your UCAS personal statement, if you are considering going to university, it will help your CV to stand out too because it proves you can think independently and that you’ve shown commitment by getting unpaid work.
- For more information about volunteering opportunities visit www.ncvo.org.uk