How to get a work experience placement

Having a work experience placement is a great way to learn about what a job involves or find out more about a particular area of work. You’ll be able to make sure the career you’re considering is the right one for you, whilst also developing new skills that will help you on your way.

Finding a work experience placement can feel a bit daunting to begin with. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips on everything you need to know about work experience.

Where to start

If you already know what type of career you’re interested in, that’s a great place to start. Speak to your careers advisor at school or college, a teacher or family member and discuss how to find a placement that’s related to your ultimate career goal.

If you’re not sure what your long-term plan is just yet, don’t panic. Lots of people still don’t know after several years of work or study, and it’s not uncommon to change your mind along the way either! Work experience is all about giving something a try and finding out more, so start by considering what you’re good at or enjoy doing.

Here’s some examples based on common subjects:

  • English – journalism, publishing, teaching, marketing, PR, law, social work, sales
  • Maths – accountancy, banking, engineering, project management, IT, finance
  • Geography – Surveying, town planning, environmental or sustainability, transport, tourism
  • Science – engineering, research, medical, laboratories, vet, pharmaceuticals, IT/technical
  • History – politics, academic researcher, librarian, compliance, civil service

Here’s some examples based on common skills or interests:

  • Creative – advertising, design, architecture, acting, broadcasting, fashion, photography
  • Organising – project management, events, business owner, estate agency, administration
  • Communicating – customer service, psychology, HR, marketing, childcare, retail, charity
  • Sports – physiotherapy, personal trainer, sports referee, teacher, leisure, media

If you’re still not sure, talk to friends or family members for some ideas. Or why not pick something that you know little about and just give it a try? You might surprise yourself and find something unexpected you love.

Starting your search

Now you know what type of work experience you’d like, you can start searching for suitable placements. Make a list of the type of work places or businesses that could be suitable and think about the types of things you’d like to get involved in.

Remember that finding work experience can be competitive and you might not always get your first choice of company if they’re in high demand. Be realistic and try to explore lots of different options – sometimes less traditional routes (such as smaller businesses, charities or alongside a freelancer) could give you more opportunity to get involved with easy tasks and try different things out.

Here’s a couple of different ways to finding a company that could offer you a work placement:

  • Start with friends, family, neighbours and people you know. If they work in a related industry or know someone who does, they might be willing to speak to their HR department or put you in touch with them directly.
  • Search employers in your local area by using directories such as or Type in your postcode and search for the business type you’re after to find a telephone number of email address.
  • Think about companies you’re aware of – such as those you pass on the way to school or clubs – or those on your local high street, business park or industrial estate. You may be able to ask in person if there’s any opportunities available.
  • Look for job advertisements – newspapers, online job boards or social media job searches will help you find out the companies who are hiring in your area. Chances are if they are recruiting lots of people, they might be grateful for an extra pair of hands.

Requesting a placement

Once you’ve got a list of potential companies, you’ll need to get in touch with them to see if they’d be willing and able to offer you a work experience placement.

Whilst it might feel scary to make a call, this is usually the best way to stand out and to get a quick answer. Write down what you want to say, introduce yourself, be polite and speak clearly. Most receptionists will be very friendly and helpful and be able to point you in the right direction.

Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down – not all companies can accommodate work experience placements for various reasons or you may not be the only call they’ve received. Keep trying and remember that practice makes perfect and you’re already learning a new skill!

Often when you’ve called up, you’ll be asked to send an email or letter with more information such as your contact details, school or college and the type or length of placement you need. You may also be asked to send in your CV.

If you don’t have a CV, speak to your careers advisor, teacher or a family member and ask for help. Your CV should contain your contact information, education or academic achievements, your key skills including any examples of how you’ve demonstrated them, and any work experience or volunteering experience if you have it. You can also view our top tips and free templates on how to create a school leaver CV.

After you’ve sent this to the company, wait a few days and then follow up with a call or further email if you’ve not heard back. Hopefully they’ll be able to offer you the placement you’re looking for and details of when.

Similar Posts