10 tips for helping your child get the most out of their work experience

They still can't work the washing machine, and yet they're about to get their first taste of adult life - eek! Here's how to help them get the most from it - from giving them the confidence to aim high, to coping with rejection letters

1. Let them own it - that's part of the journey

1. Let them own it - that's part of the journey

“When requesting work experience, the letter should always be written by them.”

“In my office, any calls from parents are given a definite no – if a pupil got in touch and we had room, it would probably be a yes.”

2. Give them the confidence to aim high

2.  Give them the confidence to aim high

“My advice would be to get them asking around in places where they would actually like to work – they'll really enjoy it and get a lot of out of the experience.”

“DS1 went to London to work for the CPS. He went to the magistrates court and the crown court, and also shadowed a barrister. He was very lucky – just wrote an email to the CPS website asking about placements.”

3. But don't be sniffy about less glamorous placements

3.  But don't be sniffy about less glamorous placements

“A big part of work experience is having to get somewhere on time every day, dealing with adults, managing the public, and comporting yourself in a seemly fashion. I've seen pupils who had 'formal' placements with big companies where they were just moved around departments for two weeks – they seemed to get less out of the experience than the ones who were doing the less glamorous jobs.”

4. Help them think smart...

4.  Help them think smart...

“Some organisations now have education or public engagement as part of their remit – museums, regulators (eg. Ofcom), city farms and broadcasting studios, for example. I've known under-16s to get work experience with all of them.”

5. ... and take advantage of any useful shortcuts

5.  ... and take advantage of any useful shortcuts

“Ask the school to provide a list of where last year's students went for ideas.”

6. Keep them steady in the face of rejection

6. Keep them steady in the face of rejection

“Let them know they have to keep going, despite rejections, until they find one. When they get their first 'yes' letter, it'll be so empowering when they know 'they did it'.”

7. Alas, some jobs just aren't suitable for work experience...

7.  Alas, some jobs just aren't suitable for work experience...

“I had a student who got work experience with a lawyer, but because all the files were confidential she couldn't do any work apart from make cups of tea.”

8. ...and placements mightn't be as easy to find as they once were

8.  ...and placements mightn't be as easy to find as they once were

“My husband is a vet and their rules regarding school students have change for insurance reasons – they can only take kids aged over 16, and vet students get priority, which can make finding a placement a bit of a challenge.”

9. Sometimes, the solution is right in front of you

9.  Sometimes, the solution is right in front of you

“My son did his work experience at his old primary school, helping out with PE and Sports. He had a fantastic week – it did him the world of good having to be smart and organised.”

10. You never know - it may lead to greater things (or at least, some dosh)

10. You never know - it may lead to greater things (or at least, some dosh)

“A lot of students choose to do something that will lead to an offer of a Saturday job, such as working in a supermarket, local shop or cafe.”


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