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is relevant work experience essential? And a grrrrrrrrrrr

(76 Posts)
LettyAshton Mon 12-Nov-12 13:44:12

Ds can't find any work experience for the start of Year 11. He has sent about 20 letters, made as many phone calls, but so far has drawn a blank. Apparently all the kids are really struggling this year and many schools have canned the scheme because so many employers refuse to participate now.

Anyway, onto my grrrrrrrrr: I was speaking to someone yesterday whose dd is applying to top universities but with less than brilliant grades. She has work experience coming out of her ears - but it's all through dint of her parents' connections. She has shadowed a judge at the Old Bailey, spent time at the Inns of Court, covered the court cases for the local paper. It's not fair! Most kids could never get that kind of leg up.

Do universities look favourably on applicants with that kind of stellar work experience? Do they understand that the average student, albeit with excellent academic credentials, can't get into these places without personal contacts?

LettyAshton Tue 13-Nov-12 13:37:13

Thanks for all the advice.

So many organisations have apparently just this year axed work experience because of 'elf n safety or client confidentiality. The CPS and the magistrates' court both said no WE students. So has one of the big accountancy firms who previously offered a structured programme. I think really it's a case of time and money. I don't think many 15-year-olds will be surreptitiously photographing client files with a view to blackmail...

That's a good idea about offering copy to the local paper. The local paper wouldn't take any school WE people, but the Editor is the aunt of the woman I was speaking to so guess where her dd was? Hrmmph.

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 13:55:16

Letty don't get too hung up on nepotism. It really isn't rife at all levels. Is it law that he's interested in? DD3 also 'spent time at the Inns of Court' but did so through applying to an access scheme open to all run by one of the very top sets of its sort. But it required thinking ahead, filling in a form with a personal statement and her selection was probably helped by her having 11 A* and having won the National final of the Magistrates' Mock Trial as the defence solicitor in Y9. She's very game and got stuck into photocopying, making coffee etc. as well as going to the High and Supreme Courts. It's the difference between doing and saying.

ISingSoprano Tue 13-Nov-12 14:12:24

In my view school work experience schemes are very variable in terms of their relevance and usefulness to potential university applications. However, I do think to have had a job is a really good idea. To be able to demonstrate a work ethic and commitment to what is probably a fairly menial job always looks good. My ds is currently applying to university and we were told by several admissions tutors that the key to a good application is to show a real interest in the subject. Attending lectures or talks or arranging visits can be equally valid to WE.

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 14:38:21

Agree with that Soprano. My DC have all worked continuously for money since Y9. There's a separate section on the UCAS form for that.

Copthallresident Tue 13-Nov-12 15:45:23

Letty Yes Admissions tutors do live in the real world and can spot someone who has accessed this sort of experience easily. Our course studies a culture you are unlikely to have studied in any depth at school so evidence that you have pursued an interest is valued BUT our admissions officer levels the playing field in the sense that what you learn and the interests you develop from reading, research and watching films etc can be just as useful as what you learnt when Mummy and Daddy took / sent you around the world.

DD gained Year 11 experience with a Barrister fairly easily just by writing to a lot of Barristers Chambers, quite a few had connections blind policies. It put her off Law completely, spent a week on a case which was examining the evidence of a log of literally '000s of mobile phone calls. Wonderful antidote to Ally McBeal!!

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 16:06:38

@Yellow the working thing is something that slightly bothers me, since it's extremely unlikely that DD1 will do any work for money (other than possibly busking) until she is old enough to do playing in pubs and clubs. On the other hand she helps out teachers already in various music-y things, outside school, but it's for free. I just can't see her ever getting a weekend retail style job because so much of her stuff goes on at weekends. sad

ISingSoprano Tue 13-Nov-12 16:53:50

Does she want to study music Mordion? If so, any helping out at 'music-y type things' will still look good. What sort thing does she do?

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:02

Yes she does. smile She currently helps out with the younger ones at some In Harmony things, and she also helps with a choir. And the church music group.

lastSplash Tue 13-Nov-12 17:07:45

Excellent legal work placement here - - no connections involved, just apply.

ISingSoprano Tue 13-Nov-12 17:27:13

Sounds great Mordion - my dd does lots of music too. It sounds like your dd is really motivated.

LettyAshton Tue 13-Nov-12 17:37:05

The matrix place looks good, but it is in London which (sob sob) is not a realistic location. A few of the big solicitors firms near here subscribe to a widening access scheme but only take pupils from the two most deprived schools in the area. Very worthy, but a bit annoying! A couple of other big employers also have relationships with specific schools.

Ds got a no thanks e-mail from the National Trust today. Very polite, but said they had been inundated and had already taken 5 students on for the two weeks in question.

Kez100 Tue 13-Nov-12 17:55:09

It can be very difficult to find experience.

basildonbond Tue 13-Nov-12 18:27:20

Erm ... If I were editing a local paper I'd be exceedingly wary of letting an untrained schoolchild turn in copy from court cases - when I was training we spent hours studying McNae's Essential Law for Journalists as it is a potential minefield and the consequences of a newspaper getting it wrong could be catastrophic

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 19:01:11

Yes it was Matrix! She had a great time. It's a fabulous scheme.

Mordion for someone such as your DD it couldn't matter two hoots. Not even one hoot in fact. She clearly hasn't got time. My DC each have a really good job going at the same place which is 'menial' work but hard work yet also pretty good fun - the group who work there get on really well. The money gives them independence. Great lunches too! DDs 1, 2 and 3 and DSs 1, 2 and 3 are all on the books. About four minutes walk from home - ideal.

DS1 was very reluctant to give up the paid work in order to do the care home thing for Medicine even though it does seem to have become something that almost every applicant does. It was one or the other for him and he was quite clear which he wanted to do. He'd spent a week at a care home for his own Y11 work experience and didn't feel he should feel under pressure to tick a box. As it happened the interviewing tutors simply reworked the questions about team work/ grubby work/ long hours/ team work/ social skills/ team work to fit the cafe scenario rather than the care home scenario so it was all fine. He also managed to absorb about half of an Oxford interview extolling the virtues of the coffee cake and its singular advantage over the lemon drizzle cake (this was in answer to a question mind you, not randomly imposed on the tutors). And by the time he'd repeated the phrase 'team work' enough times (about ten he thinks), there was just time for one tricky sciency question and the whole thing was over.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 13-Nov-12 20:04:22

The purpose of work experience is to show passion for the subject. If a student can shoe passion in other ways, eg by reading about then subject, then great.

Persevering to get work experience against the odds is particularly good, though.

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 20:40:23

Oh please, not passion again. Passion is a hideous descriptor. Surely no normal student is 'passionate' at the age of eighteen? Very odd if he is.

Work experience in a related field can serve to show a genuine interest which really should be as much as is needed.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 20:44:43

@yellow You sound like St John Rivers grin

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 13-Nov-12 20:45:15

Plenty of students are passionate about what they want to do. Thankfully.

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 20:48:07

Ok Mordion but I promise you that UCAS applications to worthwhile unis don't want applicants to come over all Rochester.

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 20:48:30


Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 20:48:56

Bloody fakes.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 20:55:40

I love Mr Rochester. As does DD1. And I think for music they probably do expect you to have and demonstrate passion. But DD1 would be more of a demonstrator than a claimer, if you see what I mean. grin

Yellowtip Tue 13-Nov-12 20:59:41

Music is an exception as an inherently passionate thing though Mordion. I'll give you Music.

MordionAgenos Tue 13-Nov-12 21:03:04

It's actually Jane who is constantly berated for her passionate nature. grin But she's more of an artist than a musician although she can plink plonk at the piano a bit.

DD1 is usually praised for her focus and commitment and to be honest I think those are the traits, along with talent, that matter - you can be passionate as you want about music, but if you're crap at playing then that's the ballgame. Same if you can't be arsed to practice.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 21:09:23

what about something dull but challenging? My siter had no idea what she wanted to do so when to work with the admin dept at a local telecomms company. She got there and got sent round all the departments, and got loads of experience in lots of different areas and given lots of good advice. Sat down for a whole day and told how to research a company so you can impress at interview.

Better than Gregs.

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