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‘Hints and Tips’ when applying for a professional work experience placement

The post-Christmas period usually sees an influx of work experience requests from both school and university students. Quite often the requests from schools are all seeking a placement for the same week when they run an “enrichment week”. The requests are many and varied in style, ranging from an attempt at a business-like manner to “text speak” (i.e. short and blunt).

If you are serious about the placement, then you almost need to treat it in the manner you would a job application, so there are a few do’s and don’ts to remember:

Do:

  • Use a professional tone in your initial communication. This is your first impression so make it a good one.
  • Treat it like you would a job application and send a copy of your CV and a covering email or letter explaining why you are interested in the profession.
  • Research the business you are applying to, if you are able to refer to this in your covering letter in a relevant matter do. Looking interested and showing that you have spent time finding out about the business will definitely help your application.
  • Offer to come in for an interview or pre-placement visit. This reinforces your interest and commitment.
  • Be accommodating on your dates (this may be difficult if your school or college insists this must take place during a particular week; however a school holiday week may be easier for an employer to accommodate).
  • Be clear on any processes that your school or college has in place prior to, during and after your visit. These will all take extra time out of the employer’s day so it is only fair to be honest and up front rather than springing this on them once a placement is agreed.
  • Remember you want the business to accommodate a work experience placement for your benefit not theirs. Bear in mind you are asking them for a favour.
  • Provide a contact address, email or postal, that you use and check at least daily.
  • Respond promptly even when you may have had to wait a week or more for a reply to your initial enquiry. It is important having made a good impression and received an offer that you maintain that impression.
  • Check whether you are required to bring any specific equipment with you, even if this is only a pen and paper.
  • Remember to check any dress code requirements, for most professional offices you can assume it will be smart business dress.

Don’t:

  • Be informal or use text speak.
  • Be aggressive in the tone used.
  • Forget to turn up for the visit or the placement (I kid you not, this has happened!).
  • Have a family member or colleague make the initial contact or follow up contact unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  • Apply for a placement you don’t really want, this is a waste of your time and the employer’s and that will show through in your behaviour and attitude.

If you bear these few simple tips in mind you should have a much better overall experience.

Good Luck!