Taking unpaid work experience can bring great rewards. It gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and improve those you already have. Besides the skills you bring to an organisation, you will find you learn more through your work with other people, as well as benefiting from their experience.
Here are our tips for ensuring your work experience is time well spent.
Make a good impression
You want to be sure you’re remembered for the right reasons, so making a good impression from the start is important. Be sure to dress appropriately. If you’re not sure about the dress code, remember it’s better to err on the side of formality rather than being casual.
Arrive on time and don’t watch the clock when you get there. You want to show that you are engaged, interested and have an appetite for working hard.
Take every opportunity to find out about the business and get to know its culture. If you’re not sure how to perform a task you’ve been given, there’s no shame in asking for clarification. It helps you learn the system faster and shows that you’re keen to improve.
Don't be afraid to ask people about their roles as well, or how they got where they are. It’s a great way to connect with people you’ll want in your network later in your career.
Being proactive is good; ask for more work and push the boundaries. A work experience placement will only be as useful as you make it. It might sound obvious, but the more you get stuck in, the more experience you’ll gain.
Grasp the opportunity to learn new skills by making yourself available for any additional work, and make sure you always demonstrate a positive attitude.
Build your network
Try to spend time shadowing other teams as this will give you experience of what it’s like to work elsewhere in the organisation, helping you to develop relationships, build your network and make your mark.
Network with senior colleagues who have been there and done it all. They will be able to offer you invaluable career tips, and may even be your key to future placements.
Ask for feedback
Always be sure to get some feedback on your work. If possible, try to gather it throughout your placement to give you a chance to improve while you’re still there.
It’s important to be honest with yourself at the end of the experience as well. If you didn’t enjoy it, why not? No matter how well or how badly it goes, it doesn’t mean it’s been a waste of time, because it will give you a sense of your own abilities and preferences.