Making Work Experience Less Stressful
Work experience is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn new skills and experience life in the working world. Not only do students get a taste of what they may want to do in the future, but they also develop self-discipline and the ability to work independently.
However, work experience can be a stressful time for all involved - students, parents, staff and employers, if it is not planned and recorded effectively. Fortunately, year after year we see schools carrying out extremely successful work experience placements in which everyone benefits. We've been working closely with schools for over 20 years and have picked up some great advice from teachers, learning some of our own lessons along the way.
Below are our top tips for a smooth and successful work experience placement:
1. Plan ahead
Planning is essential! Students must be clear about what they will need to do - what time they will be expected to arrive, what they will need to bring, how they should dress and what they will be expected to do upon arrival. These are details that will vary with each placement and it is worth ensuring all students have this information recorded ahead of their placement to ensure they are fully prepared. Being prepared will give students the confidence they need to look forward to their placement.
2. Think about what you want to achieve
A successful work experience placement sees benefits for all involved - personal achievements and development for students and a helping hand for employers. Helping students to think ahead to what they want to achieve and gain from their placement can really help them to put this plan into action during work experience and ensure they get the most out of a fantastic opportunity.
3. Put the effort in
Ensuring students understand the importance of putting effort into their work experience placement is essential. Making a fantastic impression through working hard and displaying their full potential will allow students to secure a reference, potential future work experience or even future employment. As with all things in life, the more effort that is put in the greater rewards.
We hope that students will be able to find a placement in a profession that is of interest to them. However, this is not always possible, which can lead to some students becoming disheartened. Clearly outlining the benefits of transferable skills and how the experience they will gain will help towards reaching their end goal can enthuse students and enable them to see the value of the opportunity presented to them.
4. Record effectively
It is all very well carrying out a successful placement, but without recording achievements effectively, details will be forgotten. Recording the tasks carried out each day and noting specific incidents is imperative e.g. when students were required to use their problem solving abilities or act as a team player. This record of achievements will prove invaluable when applying for further education and employment.
Reflection helps students to absorb their experience and identify what has been achieved. With little time to reflect during a busy week of work placement, taking the time to do so afterwards is important. Group discussions can be an excellent way to get students to compare their experiences and discuss their thoughts - often it takes talking through an experience with others to realise what you have accomplished.
Work experience log books are an excellent way to help students achieve all of the above. A tried and tested method for many years, work experience log books are a worthwhile investment at just £1.25 each with a minimum order quantity of 100. Fill in the below form to receive a sample.