Cartoon of a man saying Boy! I sure did a good day's work today!

Image Credit: National Archives at College Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

There are three main reasons for undertaking work experience:

    • To get a feel for a profession and the wider world of work.

It can be really hard figuring out what you want to do with your life, whatever stage of education you are in. Most people don’t even know what sector they want to work in, let alone which particular job or company to choose. Doing a work experience placement or work shadowing can really help you in this respect. You will get to see how a company runs, what different sectors are really like and what different job roles entail. Even if you only learn more about what you don’t want to do, it is still useful!

    • To help you gain some experience prior to applying for apprenticeships, university or graduate jobs.

Having some experience of the workplace is often crucial to getting a job. It can sometimes seem a little bit chicken and egg because you can’t get experience without a job but you can’t get a job without experience! This is where work experience, internships and volunteering come in. A lot of the time, you will not need any previous experience to take part in any of these but they will give you the skills you need to get into full-time work. The skills you learn in any job or work experience scheme will be transferable, meaning that they will help you with applications for university or for jobs in entirely different sectors. See Eluceo’s skills area to find out more about transferable skills.

    • To earn some extra money.

This is why most people get a part-time or holiday job. However you should be aware, as mentioned above, that even these jobs will provide you with transferable skills. Also, some work experience placements will pay your expenses and many internships are now paid, especially for graduates or university students.

Types of Work Experience: