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Making the most of your time

What you gain from work experience is very much up to you.

Careful planning will certainly help, but your attitude and approach once you're in the workplace will be just as important.

Before you begin

Whenever you undertake paid work experience opportunities, you should agree the terms and conditions with your employer before starting work, including:

  • your job title and a brief description of the work
  • the rate of pay
  • how and when you'll be paid
  • your working hours
  • a start and end date for your period of work
  • your expected place of work
  • sickness and holiday entitlements.

While you're at work

Don't expect to be managing the show from day one, but complete all basic tasks you are set thoroughly and diligently and show that you are reliable and can take responsibility. Be on time, dress appropriately and show that you are enthusiastic and keen to learn.

Make an effort to build working relationships with everyone around you, take an interest in their work and how it fits into the business and offer to help them if you have time available. Ask questions if you're not sure about something you've been tasked with. And always seek feedback on your work and act on it.

Keep a diary or log of what happens at work, what you do, who you meet (and their contact details), and particular situations that you have to deal with. And, before your work experience ends, ask your employer for a reference while your contribution is fresh in their mind.

When problems arise

If you're finding it difficult to establish an effective working relationship with your supervisor, look around for someone you work well with who could act as a mentor and help you to make the most of the situation.

If you find that you're not getting the experience you were promised, request a meeting with your supervisor to discuss this and suggest some ways in which you could make a better contribution.

After your work experience

Write to thank your employer for your experience if on a placement or shadowing, and keep in touch with the key contacts you have made.

Review your diary and make time to reflect on the experience that you have gained. You should also produce a clear list of the skills that you developed with examples of situations where you have demonstrated these.

Update your CV to reflect the new skills that you have developed.

Find out more

Careers and Employability