Your opportunity to learn more about the field you want to work in, study and research.
Finding work experience is not difficult, making sure it is relevant and useful is much harder. We explain how to find beneficial work experience that will wow the University Admissions Team (and your future employers).
What is Work Experience?
Work experience does what it says on the tin. It is time spent in a workplace where you learn about a job role, the company and the sector. You may find that work experience is not a one-off thing you do, your school may require you to do it during GCSEs or A-levels and some universities expect you to have evidence of work experience on your Personal Statement.
Being proactive and finding your own work experience is good experience itself. It shows your organisational skills and passion for the sector. Finding opportunities yourself means you can also make more of a decision of where you do your work experience so you can tailor it more around your interests and goals.
Why is work experience useful?
As mentioned earlier there are many benefits of completing work experience. It gives you the opportunity to:
- Learn more about the field you want to go into
- Grow your network by making useful contacts
- Pick up new skills and develop those you already have
- Boost your confidence and demonstrate your passion and interest in the field
If this is a field you are set on, then you’ll likely find it an enjoyable experience too! Useful work experience will help you demonstrate skills on your Personal Statement and interviews such as:
Which degrees require work experience?
Some universities like to see evidence of work experience and some actually require it. It is important to know which degrees frequently require work experience or prefer to see that students have real work placements.
Finding a placement is a great way to demonstrate your interest and suitability for the degree and a strong way to enhance your application. If the degree you are applying for is very competitive, work experience will help you stand out from the crowd.
Having the opportunity of work experience is invaluable, especially for medicine. Not only will potential medicine interviewers be looking for you to recount your experiences in the healthcare setting, but the chance to shadow doctors is the only real way of knowing if a career in medicine is something that appeals to you. If you are wondering what GP work experience is like, we have outlined the experience for you here.
UCAS suggests that the following university degrees require work experience:
|NHS-funded healthcare courses||Universities require work experience or voluntary work in a health or social care setting for courses including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Healthcare Science, Midwifery and Nursing.|
|Medicine||Universities look for work experience that demonstrates resilience, learning from life experience, communication and interpersonal skills and understanding of the values of the NHS Constitution.|
|Teaching||Universities frequently require over 10 days of work experience in a school. Experience working with children and young people is also valuable which can be gained from volunteering with a scout group or youth club.|
|Social work||Universities commonly require students to have experience of working with social care. Remember you will likely need a DBS and make sure you leave enough time to arrange this before starting if the work experience requires it. Experience is not limited to local authority social services, it can be gained from youth clubs, advice service and voluntary agencies.|
Also, there are degrees where work experience is more expected and favoured than required. These degrees usually lead to being qualified for a profession such as:
- Civil Engineering
- Media Production
- Town and Country Planning
What are the types of work experience?
There are multiple types of work experience:
Getting relevant work experience will help you decide whether pursuing a career in medicine is right for you, and will give you an insight into the working life of a doctor. Observe GP is a virtual alternative to work experience for medicine applicants in the UK. It is an interactive video platform that houses a set of pre-recorded videos in a GP surgery. We explain what virtual medical work experience is here.
Where should I find Work Experience?
Step one to finding relevant and useful experience is to be proactive. Write a list of what you are interested in and what you hope to achieve.
You don’t have to be the CEO of Amazon to have good contacts and a strong network of people. Make a list of who you know that you could ask for experience or if they know someone they could put you in contact with. Your family, friends, teachers or past employers from a summer job you did are all contacts that should be utilised.
Do not feel like you are a burden either, remember, you will work hard during the experience and contribute to the workplace so both you and the company will benefit. We have a handy article here on how to get the most out of your work experience.
Not all work experience opportunities are advertised so you should push yourself to be proactive and contact employers directly with a speculative application. Write a strong CV and cover letter that is tailored to the company and explain what experience you are looking for and why you would like to work with the target company. Make sure to introduce yourself and what you could also bring to the company. Prospects has a good article explaining how to ask employers for work experience.
Another way to find opportunities is just by searching around online for the career you are interested in and adding work experience to your searches. For example, if you want to work in finance, search for accounts office work experience.
If you don’t know what career path you want to pursue, then focus on what interests you. If you love writing or think you have good writing skills, look into local newspapers, magazines, publishers and teachers. Perhaps you enjoy geography at school, local borough town planning, sustainability charities and local surveyors could be a possibility.
Final Work Experience tips
How do I demonstrate my passion for my chosen degree?
Being passionate about your chosen degree is great but it won’t help your application if you can’t demonstrate it. Our Personal Statement support and weekly enrichment supervisions will help you to demonstrate your interest and ability to the Admissions Tutors in your UCAS application and during your interview.
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