But what should I do?
Once realisation that the placement is happening whether or not you want it to sets in, the next thought is ‘Can I hide for two weeks and pretend I’m at work experience? Whose house can I stay at? I’ll need someone to pretend to be an employer to sign my forms…hmmm’.
Just kidding, the next thought will be so what should I do? Now it’s actually hard for us to tell you what you might like to do. That’s really something you need to answer for yourself. For example, if you like animals, you might like to be a lion tamer. If you like sand, you might like to make hour glasses. And so on. So just think of something (anything!) that interests you. Seriously, there is a job for just about anything you can think of.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
So start by making a list of things you might like to be one day: Oompa loompa, dirt bike racer, princess… and so forth. If you’re not sure what you’d like to do you might like to do some online personality and career tests as a guide (and guide only) to what sort of jobs might be suitable for you. Try to spend no longer than a week on this, even if it does seem impossible to think of anything, because many people get stuck here and don’t go any further. If you can’t think of anything just do something that you think would be fun!
I’m not kidding; I really don’t know what I want to do after school…help!
If your list is still looking a bit bare (i.e. all you wrote down was the name of the boy/girl you like and some lame hearts around it) then we suggest you speak to your careers advisors, teachers, family, friends and next door neighbours and ask for some advice. It might go like this, ‘Hi friend/family member/teacher/advisor/confidant/brains trust, I don’t know where to do my work experience because my brain has been frazzled by TV and computer based or phone based activities and your brain seems much bigger than mine based on the size of your head and on that basis I’m asking if you know me better than I know myself and can assist me’. I guarantee that will work. Ultimately, the important thing is to get active about the situation and talk to others if you need to. The more people you speak to, the more ideas you will get.
So who wants to give me a placement?
So now that you have some sort of list (or a series of drawings and doodlings you jotted down – perhaps you should be an artist?) the next question to ask yourself is where do I find a work placement? If you can’t find them on our site, you need to search the net or ask anyone who you think might be able to help you in locating a suitable company. Once you have created a list of potential companies in your area you will actually need to (gulp) contact them.
Contact them? Surely not!
Contacting companies used to be such a chore. The good news is that we’ve now made it very easy for you! Search for and find the placement you want on our site and follow the instructions of how to apply…and you’re done! Sure beats writing letters, calling them or just showing up doesn’t it?
If you can’t find the work placement you want on our site (which I doubt) there are other ways you can contact a company.
What should I say?
When you apply for work experience, you want to really talk them up and focus on why they are so great, and why it would be just the biggest honour of your life to even be in their presence let alone come and do work experience wow wee! Get the point? Now you don’t have to go that far, but just make sure you explain why you think their company would be a great match for you and where you think you can help them out.
Umm, yeah, umm, hi, ummmm…
The other options you have are calling employers or physically going to the company and asking in person if there are any opportunities going. These may seem like nightmare options but if you have left your work experience placement to the last minute, then you’ll have to suck it up! I told you pain and panic is a tough combination didn’t I?
So what’s the worst thing that can happen on a phone call? Well, honestly the worst thing that can happen is that you are so nervous that you can’t speak and they don’t know what you want and you ending up just panting and crying over the phone and the receptionist thinks you are a stalker and calls the cops. But the best thing that can happen is that they say yes! And that possibility is what needs to be your motivation. If they yes, think of the relief!
However you should be prepared that some or even many companies may say no (without the need to call the cops). No need to feel disheartened, just keep trying and change your approach if you need to. For example, I know someone who found pretending to be Irish by putting on a very poor Irish accent was a good way to make calls without feeling self-conscious, although we don’t really advise that.
I missed out on the work experience placement I wanted; what do I do now?
If you are not able to find a placement in the industry or area you wanted, don’t be disheartened. You will still be able to practise many of the important skills and attitudes that were listed earlier and can still impress the employer and receive the glowing endorsement of your employability – which is just what you need. A work experience placement in an area that wasn’t your first preference also gives you an opportunity to look at a different industry or job and see what else is out there and whether your chosen field is actually right for you.
Not the end of the line for you
Work experience is an experience of dipping your toes in the working water. It doesn’t define your future working life! This is not life and death. Besides it’s predicted that you will go through 30 jobs in your working lifetime in 5 different industries. Amazing huh? Also, if you think you will enjoy a certain job and find out it’s not as good as you’d hoped; it’s a great thing that you found that out now! If however, you find that you really enjoyed it then that will help spur you on to get good marks and get into the course you need to become what you want to become! Win-win.