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Why work experience works

Why work experience worksWork experience can get you started in your career, as well as helping you to pin down what you want to do.

Work experience is important whether you want to stay on in education or get a job. It shows people that you’ve thought about what you want to do and that you have a realistic idea of what working life is like. The more experience you can get before you apply for your first full-time job, the better.

It will also give you a good opportunity to gain useful skills and experience working with a range of people from all sorts of different backgrounds. As well as showing your enthusiasm for your career choice, they are key factors which universities and employers will be looking for in your CV or UCAS form.

Work experience helps you to:

  • Understand the everyday realities of working life
  • Find out about your own abilities and limitations
  • Communicate well with all sorts of different people
  • Take charge of your own future
  • Demonstrate your skills to employers
Even if you're the perfect person for a job, it's difficult for employers to know that without proof of what you can do. Work experience is an extremely important part of that proof.

Work experience helps you learn about yourself

It's not all about impressing employers. Work experience also reveals things about you that will help you to choose the right career path. For example:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you a good communicator?
  • Do you work well in a team?
  • Do you enjoy the work as much as you expected?
If it turns out that the job isn't a good fit for you, then it's better to find out on a short placement than a full-time job.

Where should I do work experience?

Finding work experience often takes a bit of research. Here are some ideas for getting a placement that suits your interests:

  • Talk to your teachers about the kinds of subjects you enjoy and ask them if they can think of related careers.
  • Look online and in the local paper for employers based nearby who might give you a placement. Remember that 
  • Try contacting your the careers advisor at your school, college or university
  • Look at our article on how to get work experience
  • Remember that experience is useful even if it isn't directly related to your planned career - so a part-time job can be as valuable for the experience as for the money you make.

Other experience

You might have some experience that, while not work experience, fulfils a similar role. For example, helping to run a school club or volunteering for a local charity will demonstrate your responsibility and teamwork skills. Think carefully about experiences like these when filling in job or university applications.

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