According to the dictionary: work experience (/wəːk/ /ɪkˈspɪərɪəns,ɛkˈspɪərɪəns/) – a short-term experience of employment, typically arranged for older pupils by schools. BUT, according to most high-school students: work experience (/help/ /me/) - a stressful thing which one has to find, organise and spend a week doing.
Whether you view it as a great opportunity, a week off school or the worst thing to happen since the death of Blockbuster movie stores, let me assure you that work experience is vital. When else will you have a week to try out any job you can imagine, potentially changing your study or life plan dramatically?! Fun fact, I wanted to be a doctor until I spent a week in a gastro ward for my Year 10 work experience. I shortly realised that blood and pus were NOT my cup of tea.
Arguably the hardest part of work experience is finding a place to do it. Luckily, I’m here to give you some ideas about where to look which you mightn’t have previously considered!
Does one of your friends’ mums have the coolest job ever? Do you have an awesome neighbour who works at an interesting company or organisation? Why not ask them if they can help you to organise work experience at their office? It might not be possible for insurance/legal reasons but it’s worth a try.
There are SO MANY work experience programs run by organisations and companies around Australia. From UNSW Civil Engineering to the Sydney Cricket Ground, there is a program for everyone. Just google “work experience program **(insert job you are interested in)**” and I promise you won’t be disappointed with the search results.
Websites like Indeed and Jora are a great way to find a huge range of work experience opportunities. Literally just type in “work experience high school” and you will be inundated with opportunities at companies you didn’t even know existed.
Your careers advisor is there to help and will probably have some connections which they can use to help you find a workplace that interests you. So, if you’re struggling to find anything, book in an appointment and get some help. That’s what they’re there for!
Volunteering at an op shop or charity for a week can be a great way to broaden your perspective on the world and give back to your community. You can either visit some local op shop or try contacting a charity you’re interested in. Just be sure to check-in with your school that this type of work experience is allowed.
Whilst my friends and I were stressing about getting work experience at a hospital or CSIRO, one of my friends walked to her local shops and got an unpaid position with a florist for a week. At the end of the week, she was offered a casual position and worked there throughout high school. If you’re interested in a particular casual job, this could be a great way to break into the industry.
Nepotism often gets a bad rap, but parents and guardians are there to help…so why not use them? Whether you’re interested in learning about what your parents do on a daily basis or you can see yourself pursuing a similar field, ask if you can work at their office.
It’s important to remember that there are laws surrounding work experience which can make it hard for employers to take students onboard. Whilst disappointing, the company might be able to connect you with other opportunities and you’ll build your skills and networks up along the way!
Good luck and we’d LOVE to know what work experience you end up finding! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your work experience!