Work experience provides a valuable opportunity for students to gain practical skills, explore career options, and develop a network of contacts in their chosen field. For year 10 and year 12 students, work experience is an especially important part of their academic journey as it can help them decide on a potential career path and give them a competitive edge in the job market. If you’re a year 10 or year 12 student looking for a work experience placement, here are some tips on how to find a good work experience placement.

1. Start early and be proactive

It’s never too early to start looking for a work experience placement. Many companies require applications to be submitted several months in advance, so you’ll need to start your search early. Talk to your school’s careers advisor, browse job sites and company websites, and ask your friends and family if they know of any opportunities that may be available. Don’t wait for companies to come to you – be proactive in your search for a work experience placement. Send out applications and follow up with companies to ensure that your application has been received and is being considered. Be persistent but polite, and always thank companies for their time and consideration.

2. Determine your interests

Before you begin your search, it’s important to determine your interests and career goals. Think about the type of work you would like to do, the industries you are interested in, and the skills you would like to develop. This will help you narrow down your search and target companies that align with your interests.

Is this to find out if you like the work and/or to grow your employability skills?

Is it to find out what other jobs there are in the industry you are interested in or to enhance your application for Apprenticeships and/or University?

Work experience is distinctly different from other opportunities, such as internships or regular volunteering. To seek out work experience, find out who employs individuals for the type of work you are interested in. Job Profiles on careers websites can be a useful way to do this:

3. Research companies

A Google Search and/or looking on Yell or similar, can be a useful start but, not all employers will be listed, so use any industry contacts (listed on the above job profiles) you can for help will be useful.

E.g., Farriers are overseen by The Farriers Registration Council so would be worth contacting for anyone wishing to be a Farrier.  

Many larger organisations list work experience and volunteering opportunities on their websites, which should be your first point of call.

Job Profiles on careers websites can also be a useful way to find out which companies employ individuals for the type of work you are interested in. Some larger organisations list work experience and volunteering opportunities on their websites.

4. Work Experience Schemes

Many industry sectors run work experience schemes to enable others to gain experience of their sectors and improve their future chances. Finding these schemes can however be tricky, as they are listed in many different places (from company websites, through to industry bodies and NGOs).

In many cases, they are also called a variety of different things such as “insight weeks” or “taster sessions” or “courses” which, can be found via Google searches (using these alternative terms).

Some are aimed at particular year groups, or have specific entry criteria, with more opportunities available for Year 12s and above, than for younger year groups in some industries, where insurance costs can affect what opportunities are available.

Here are some examples of these schemes:

5. Virtual Work Experience

As an alternative, since lockdown there has been a growth in a wide range of virtual work experience programmes which, students can access. Many of these can be found via an online search of industry, job role and/or employer.

Most are free but some do carry costs which, your school or college maybe able to help with (depending on your circumstances).

Here are some examples of just a few of the available schemes:

6. Network and think outside the box

Networking is an important part of finding a work experience placement. Talk to family members, friends, and acquaintances who work in your chosen industry and ask if they know of any opportunities. Attend industry events and career fairs and be sure to bring copies of your resume and business cards. You can also search online, using tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Consider volunteering with a non-profit organization or charity if you are having trouble finding a work experience placement. This can provide you with valuable skills and experience and may even lead to work experience or job opportunities in the future.

7. Reach out to companies and make yourself stand out

Once you have identified companies that you are interested in, reach out to them and inquire about work experience opportunities. Some companies may have formal programs that you can apply to, while others may be open to creating a custom work experience program for you. Be sure to explain your interests and goals and emphasize what you can offer the company in return.

If there are no work experience schemes listed on the company websites you are looking at, you will need to either arrange to speak to a Manager or Human Resources Officer at the companies you are looking at. This can be done via the telephone, email, or letter.

Often arranging to meet in person to discuss what they can offer you is the most likely way to generate an opportunity. Taking a responsible adult you know with you can help if you need support.

Before you make contact, research the company using social media and company websites, so you have an awareness of the company beforehand (including their objectives and organisational culture).

When you apply for a work experience placement, make sure to tailor your application to the company and position you are applying for. Emphasize what you can offer the company in return, and highlight any relevant skills or experience you have. Be professional, polite, and enthusiastic throughout the application process.

8. Be Mindful of Deadlines

Remember, some work experience opportunities are very competitive to get into and may have specific deadlines.

For many you need to apply between October and December to undertake your work experience placement in July or the summer holidays.

Some will require a CV to apply. For top tips on how to write a CV check out: How to Write a Good First CV with No Experience – YouTube and

9. Check Industry Specific Needs

Some careers have specific entry criteria for training which, includes work experience (that can vary between training provider). It’s worth discussing with your independent careers adviser in school, college, university, or the National Careers Service for support.

These are some examples of areas which, have specific criteria:

Further websites to help you can be found at:

In conclusion, finding a work experience placement can be a challenging but rewarding experience for year 10 and year 12 students. By starting your search early, determining your interests, researching companies, networking, and being proactive, you can increase your chances of securing a placement that will provide you with valuable skills, knowledge, and connections in your chosen field.

If successful in securing a placement, check out our tips on making the most of work experience.

April 2023

The National Careers Service offers free advice about careers and skills to anyone aged 13 or over and living in England. To speak to a professional careers adviser, call 0800 100 900 or use webchat (8am – 8pm Monday – Friday; 10am – 5pm Saturday)