Every year, your school will help you organise a week-long work experience placement to help you get a taste of the real world of work. Rather than seeing it as a chore, remember that this placement is an exciting opportunity to explore your future career, find out which jobs interest you and network with professionals in your chosen industry.
Read on for some inspiring and competitive opportunities available to Year 10 students like you.
What is work experience?
When you sit in the classroom, you’re probably dreaming about getting out of there. Well, this is your chance. Work experience is a short-term placement with an organisation that lasts between one day and two weeks.
Nowadays, a lot of work experience placements are delivered remotely via platforms like Zoom. Virtual work experience usually involves sitting in on internal meetings and shadowing other people. It’s completely up to you whether you’d prefer to attend an in-person placement or not. However, keep in mind that in-person placements will give you more opportunity to socialise, network and speak to the people you work with, whereas you might be sitting alone in your bedroom during a virtual one!
Where can you find a work experience placement?
Your school’s careers advisor will be the go-to contact for anything related to work experience. The second port of call is to ask local businesses in your area (remember to take your CV along) and to jump on Google to see what’s available. You can chat to your friends and family to ask if they have any recommendations, and they might also have advice on whether to complete an in-person or virtual placement.
10 work experience ideas for Year 10s
- Hairdressing and beauty salons
If you want to pursue anything beauty-related, working in a local salon should be at the top of your to-do list. Most salons will let you work flexibly outside of school hours, such as during the holidays or on Saturdays. You’ll gain experience in customer service and technical skills, and you’ll build strong relationships will you can use to secure a job or apprenticeship at the salon when you finish school.
- Law firms
How cool would it be to shadow a real lawyer? Most law firms accept work experience students to help with administrative tasks like transcribing calls and posting letters. You’ll also sit in on internal meetings, speak directly with lawyers and maybe even visit court.
- The ‘Big Four’
Have you heard of the ‘Big Four’? This term refers to the four big consultancy and auditing firms – PwC, EY, Deloitte and KPMG. Keep an eye out on their websites for their highly competitive Year 10 placement opportunities, which are perfect if you’re interested in a career in accounting, finance and IT.
Working in a charity or local charity shop is a rewarding way to give back to the community. You can take the responsibility to work on the till (which will look great on your CV), interact with customers and keep the store looking tidy. It’s easy to dismiss a charity shop work experience placement as ‘boring’ but some are busy thriving operations!
- Car garages
Get hands-on with a placement at a local car garage. You’ll experience what it’s like to be a mechanic, gain key skills in the automotive industry and learn how to manage customers. You might not be able to drive the cars yet, but you’ll certainly be able to understand what’s under the hood.
You probably pop into Boots all the time to grab shampoo or face wash. Boots has an in-person placement scheme that you can apply for by asking your local store. Alternatively, there are virtual opportunities in partnership with Boots’ chosen charities that run for three months (don’t worry, it’s just a few hours every month).
Ever wondered what it’s like to be in the Army? Now’s your chance! Book onto the four-day work experience placement and enjoy leadership tasks, physical challenges and group activities alongside real serving soldiers. During the experience week, you’ll get a specialist logbook to record all the essential info you learn.
- Libraries and local newspapers
If you’re an aspiring writer or an avid reader, libraries or local newspapers are great places for you to advance your passion and knowledge. As well as helping customers choose their next exciting book, you can help run events and school visits, or even write a guest article.
- Tech companies
Who says you can’t be the next Elon Musk? Start your tech career early with a work experience placement at firms like Cisco, Quadrature and Amazon. You’ll advance your STEM skills, discover innovative technologies and see what the average day in a tech professional’s life looks like.
Here’s a wildcard for you! Do you love history, biology or geography? The Natural History Museum in London accepts volunteers for one week per year where you’ll be helping to photograph collections, curate displays and see what museum work is like behind the scenes. If you’re not based in London, simply ask at your local museum instead.
How to include work experience on your CV
One of the main reasons to complete work experience is that it makes your CV look pretty awesome. You should include the dates of the placement and the name of the business you worked with. Then, write a short paragraph or list answering the following questions:
- What did you learn?
- How did you contribute to the business and wider team?
- Did this placement inspire you to pursue a career in that industry? If not, why?
It’s called ‘experience’ for a reason
It’s really hard to choose a career path without testing the waters first, which is exactly why a work experience placement is so valuable. Even if you get to the end of the week and realise you don’t want to become a hairdresser or an accountant after all, it’s okay – that’s what the experience is for after all! Although your school will probably only organise one placement in Year 10, feel free to organise other opportunities yourself with the help of your school’s careers advisor.