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Why should I do work experience?

If you've not been in work before, work experience is the chance to learn new skills and build your confidence in a workplace environment, and help you understand the daily routine of working, particularly in your chosen field. It is a great way to find out whether a certain type of career is for you, help you decide on your options for Year 11 and beyond, and can illustrate that you’ve actual experience in your chosen field.

Depending on the type of placement you do, you’ll get the chance to develop and show evidence of vital skills such as communication, independence, a can-do attitude, organisation and time management. At the same time, arranging your placement requires perseverance, planning and research. You’ll need to use your initiative and communicate effectively to persuade an employer to commit to taking you on for the duration of the work experience, which are skills you can take also away with you.

Work experience may also be the chance to build up useful contacts and you may even be offered a job or further opportunitiesl if the organisation likes you.

It’s also the best way to get a real sense of the industry you’re interested in. Whilst on your placement make the most of it by speaking to employees, asking them about the job roles available and career progression you might be able to take. And if you haven’t got a clue what career you want to do, it's a perfect way to sample all the career options out there. It’s a way of exploring different jobs without actually committing to anything. If you enjoy it, that’s great, and you’ve something relevant to talk about when you go to job interviews or fill in application forms. If you don’t enjoy it, it gives you the opportunity to rule out that career and working environment and, regardless of whether you enjoyed it, you can still explain to employers in interviews further down the line what you learnt and the skills you gained from it.

As well as the specifics, work experience gently introduces you to the world of work. You get to learn the dos and don’ts, get workplace savvy and learn to navigate your way through the jungle of office politics. Vitally, it’ll give you an idea of the skills you might need to thrive in the workplace.

Work experience is an essential requirement for anyone applying for a job - two-thirds of employers are more likely to hire a young person with work experience over someone with none. Employers see job applicants with good work experience as more knowledgeable, more confident and more committed. It also shows you’ve a passion and interest in the industry you’ve chosen, and that you are motivated to get into that career.

If you are currently unemployed you can do as much work experience as you like and still claim benefits. You just need to inform your benefits adviser what work experience you are doing. If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance you'll be expected to stick to the conditions of the benefit agreement, which means looking for paid work and attending interviews. 

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