Work experience is a great opportunity to learn about a job or an area of work.
You’ll use skills that you might not even know you have and develop new skills that will help you to work better with other people now and in the future. Completing your work placement will also help you to obtain better grades in projects and assignments and give you an understanding of the career path you have chosen.
At Bolton College, you should have secured your placement and brought in the details on your first day. It’s a requirement of your course that you complete a work placement relevant to the course you’re studying.
It’s expected that you find your own placement and we’ve included information to help you with that here. If you’ve been accepted onto a full-time study programme, now is the time to start thinking about where you’d like to complete your placement, before approaching these companies to try and secure a placement ready for when you start your course.
Once you start your course, you’ll be asked for the details of the employer you’ll be completing your placement with. It’s important that you bring with you the company name, address, company contact, mobile number and email address. We’ll then arrange for a Health & Safety check to be completed with the company before you start your placement, ensuring that it’s a safe place for you to work. You won’t be able to start a placement until this Health & Safety check has been completed.
If you’re unable to secure your own placement, you’ll need to bring evidence of the companies you’ve contacted and we’ll help support you in securing a placement.
Finding your own work placement can be a good experience. It means you have more choice and control over where you go, and it’s a chance to show off your organisational skills.
Your work experience should be relevant to the course you’re studying at College – if you’re unsure how many hours your work experience course requires, please contact us and we can advise.
Here are some examples of industry-related work experience you could look at:
• If you know you want to be a chef, you could try to find a placement in a restaurant or canteen
• If you’re interested in a career in medicine, you could look at a placement in a hospital or GP surgery
• If you like travel, you could try to find a placement with a travel agent, tour company or hotel
• If you think a career in finance would suit you, you could try to get a placement in an accounts office or at a bank.
• Make a list of the top 10 placements you would like
• Imagine the kinds of things you might do on your placement
• Try to be realistic
• Remember that you won’t be given a lot of responsibility
• Ask yourself if the placement is realistic for someone your age
• Expect to do some repetitive and easy tasks.
Now you’ve got a list of the type of placements you want, it’s time to find one!
Remember that you won’t be the only student looking for a work placement – not in your year group at College or in your local area either.
Here are some ideas on how to find companies and organisations that you can ask for a work experience placement with:
• If someone in your family works somewhere interesting, you can ask them if they’ll contact their human resources department for you
• Ask neighbours and family friends if their work would consider you for a placement
• If you already know of an organisation that interests you, do a web search for their contact details
• Find employers in your local area by searching on Google
• Read job adverts in the local newspaper to find employers in your area
• Think of companies you pass in everyday life; many students think of shops and local hairdressers as good placements which means many of you could be trying to get a placement at the same place, so think of some different companies too
• Be willing to travel to other areas, as long as it’s not too far or expensive to get there - this will give you more choice and open up other opportunities
• Join social media networking sites such as Linkedin and start connecting with companies you’re interested in and people who work there
• Adapt your CV and application for every placement you apply for
• Find out if the industry you want to get into has any big events coming up that you can attend; CEOs often speak at events that are open to the public and this is a great way to meet other people in the industry and build contacts.
Once you have a list of companies, the next step is to contact them:
• If the company’s small and in the local area you could drop in and speak to them
• Larger companies may require a letter and CV. You’ll need to call the company and ask who organises work experience, although some larger companies put this information on their website. Once you have the name of the person you should speak to, you’ll need to phone them to introduce yourself.
Lots of young people find it a bit scary to call an employer. Even some adults get nervous phoning companies. The more you do it, the easier it will be – you’ll soon wonder what you were worried about. Here are some tips that might help:
• Think about what you want to say before you make the call
• Write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in front of you
• Have a pen and paper ready to take down any names or notes
• Take a deep breath and relax before dialling the number
• Always be polite and try to speak clearly
• Start by introducing yourself – give your name, your school/college and explain that you’re looking for work experience
• Be prepared to explain why you’re interested in a placement with that employer
• Say what interests you about that company or the kind of work they do
• Don't be discouraged by employers saying no – it’s nothing personal
• Keep trying other employers and don't give up
• If you’re really nervous, you could ask a parent or teacher to be with you when you make the first phone call
• Practice makes perfect!
If an employer asks you to send in a letter and CV, always say yes and then find some help to create one.
Check out pages 12 to 16 of our guide for how to write a CV and Covering Letter.
Download our Covering Letter template.
You can find cover letter templates online too. Before submitting, make sure you double-check it for spelling mistakes.