Work experience is a great way to get a taste of a future career and find out what avenues might suit you. But it’s important to start your research soon – lots of other students are looking at the same time so opportunities can go fast. How can you find the right opening? 

Your tutors will be able to advise you on common routes and connections to employers. But that doesn’t mean you need to stick to their contacts. For instance, the world of optics can be less well known to schools, despite offering a wide range of rewarding careers.


Concentrate on sectors that you’re genuinely interested in and what roles are available. If you aren’t sure, try the UCAS careers quiz.  

Create a list of ideal placements to research. Then look up employers and industry bodies, such as professional associations. Company or organisation websites are full of information – look at job adverts to get an idea of the posts on offer and for information about recruitment. 


Find out what the roles you’re interested in involve. The National Careers Service has information on a wide range of jobs. Go to relevant businesses or organisations to find out more. Job descriptions and searches are useful tools. 

Ask your school for advice

Your school or college will often be able to suggest work experience opportunities. Their careers counsellors can be a great source of help and information. 

Contact companies direct

Sixth-formers can get in touch with HR departments to ask about work experience. Many businesses and organisations such as hospitals are used to welcoming young people. Make sure that you have a cover letter and CV ready to send to employers.

Visit local businesses

Finding a placement can be straightforward – plaster on a confident face, walk into a local shop or office and introduce yourself. Staff are often helpful and can point you in the right direction to apply formally. It’s important to make a good first impression:

  • Be polite
  • Dress appropriately – before you visit, look at what the people who work there wear
  • Have your CV ready to hand over

Use social media

Many organisations will respond to brief enquiries about work placements. Ask for the name and contact details of a person who can help. Then contact them to find out how to apply. Make sure you follow the company’s processes. 

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