The aim of work experience is to provide an experience of work, rather than just to try a particular job, though that can be included. The idea is that you should have the opportunity to develop your transferable skills and, if possible, to put some of your science and maths skills into practice, or observe others using theirs. Just as with preparing to apply for courses or work, you need to prepare well beforehand. In fact reading the ‘Applying for courses or work’ section will give you some useful hints.
What is work experience?
If you are looking to gain experience related to science or maths you can get ideas from friends, family, online business directories or business directories in your local library. If you are thinking about jobs directly linked to STEM and those where STEM is useful then this website is a really great place to start! Work experience placements are not always easy to spot. You will need to think about the types of employers in your area that might have some of the jobs mentioned on Future Morph.
Question 8 within the STEM Work Experience Placements Pack (at the bottom of this page) may help you when considering what sorts of placements you could do and where to look.
To approach an employer, you need to be clear about:
- What you want to achieve in terms of what you would want to have learned at the end of the period
- How you will record your achievements
- Will the company be able to offer you a project to complete, rather than just doing simple, repetitive tasks?
In some cases you will need to complete an application form, or write an application letter and have an interview. In that case, you should definitely refer to the Applying for courses or work section.
Mentor or buddy
When you attend your work experience placement you may be given a mentor or buddy who will listen to your thoughts about your placement and help you deal with any difficulties that arise. If you are not automatically given a mentor you can always ask for one. This can be particularly useful if you have any concerns about going into your chosen organisation – perhaps you will be the only female/male present or person from an under-represented group. Extra support is available for you. Check with your school or work experience co-ordinator for more information.
As your work experience comes to an end, you should think through what you have achieved and the skills you have gained:
- List the things you did well
- Make a note of any science and maths knowledge and/or skills you developed
- How well did you communicate with people, both inside and outside the organisation?
- What resources did you use to find information to carry out your work? Were they realistic?
- Did you initiate and respond to correspondence?
- Did you come across any conflict? How did you resolve it?
- Did everything go to plan? If not, how did you deal with it?
- How did your placement make you feel? Did you enjoy going into a working environment every day?
- Summarise your achievements and skills development in a paragraph to use in your CV.
Other useful websites
National STEM Centre (includes e-library resources)