Why do work experience?
Work experience gives you a chance to gain first hand experience of a working environment, take a closer look a certain job sectors and network with potential employers. Above all, work experience looks great on your CV, and can serve as a talking point in later interviews.
Where to look?
Work experience isn’t necessarily advertised. If you’re still in education, speak with your careers adviser about potential links your institution has with other companies. Otherwise, a great way to start is by contacting some companies and speaking to friends and family to see whether they might be able to put you in contact with some employers.
How to apply?
Start by phoning the company, or if it’s a family member or friend call them directly. Find out if there is an application process you need to go through, as they might take a certain number of work experience interns during a given time period. They will most likely ask for your CV and cover letter, but particularly for the finance sector there may be online tests and forms you need to fill out. If you are successful after this stage, you will probably be invited for interview before finding out if you’ve been successful.
Will I be paid?
You will be lucky to be paid for any work experience. Companies know that many people are desperate for the work experience for their CV’s and so they often take advantage of this by not paying interns. In some cases, it may actually cost the company money to provide resources and supervision for your internship. Normally a company will tell you during the application process if there is any financial reward, whether that is a weekly salary or just reimbursing expenses. Work experience is not about the money; it is about making a good impression and gaining experience for your CV.
How long will it take?
Some work experience placements will be flexible. If you are working unpaid in a small local business, then you should normally be able to tell them how long you are available for, even if it’s just one week. More competitive placements however will usually outline a set amount of time they expect you to work for, and this could be up to 6 months. If you have a set time period you are available for, before other commitments, then make sure you let the companies know this during your application process.