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Work experience

Photo: Work experience helps you learn more about the industry and the work environment.

Work experience gives you the chance to develop confidence in the workplace, improve your skills, make new contacts and plan for your future.

It will give you the opportunity to gain experience in a working environment that you're interested in and see whether you enjoy it. It can help you to decide if you're interested in pursuing a career in a similar field. 

What's in it for me?

Develop confidence

Work experience is the closest thing to getting a job in the career that you would like to explore. You will understand more about the company and about the expectations of being an employee, you will also discover what you are really good at. Learning from different experiences helps to develop your confidence.

Improve your skills

There are many skills that are used in the workplace, such as communication and timekeeping. It is a good opportunity to show an employer that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn. You will find out more about responsibilities of the role, and what is needed to do this well. When you have future job applications you will be able to give examples of skills that you have developed.

Make new contacts

You will work with a wide range of people who can share their experiences of the workplace, and who have a fantastic pool of knowledge that you can learn from. This will enable you to make new contacts, which could be valuable in supporting you with future opportunities on your career journey.

Plan your future

Work experience will help give a better idea of the career you are interested in, and if it is the right one for you. It can support you with long term goals, such as the skills you need to develop, and give you the motivation to get the job that you really want. You may decide that you want to look at other careers too as part of planning for the future.

How can I make a good impression?

Be organised

Planning ahead will help you to be organised, and more productive. Having a daily check list of tasks will help you to prioritise and to manage your time well.

Be on time

It is important to be punctual and to turn up for work in good time. If you are going to be late, let your employer know and make sure that communication is clear.

Be respectful

You may do tasks that you are not keen on, but this is all part of working – be thankful for the experience, and show your appreciation. They will remember you!

Be a team player

A skill that employers like to see in action is teamwork. Your employer will value your opinion, and you may bring a different view and solutions to the team.

Set targets

Having targets will enable you to challenge yourself and achieve small goals every day. Make sure the goals are achievable, and that they help to develop your skills.

Ask questions

This will show you are listening, and are keen to understand the tasks you have been given. It will also give you the opportunity to learn more about the role.

What are the different types of work experience?

Block placement

This is where you will spend one or two weeks with an employer. They will put a programme together to enable you to experience the workplace.

One day a week

This may be linked to a course you undertake at college, where you will spend time with an employer on a weekly basis, and may work on small projects.


This is a great way to develop your skills and learn more about your chosen career. Your role could be up to 12 months, and would be paid or unpaid.


This is a course that includes a work placement and can last up to six months. It helps you to get ready for an apprenticeship or job, if you need to develop more skills.


This can help you to try a different area of work and focus on new experiences. It shows employers that you are proactive, and you can make new contacts too.


What kind of work experience opportunities are available?

There are opportunities in nearly every job – some may take longer to arrange, such as when working with children or win roles where you have access to confidential information.

How long does work experience last?

This depends on the type of work experience, but could last from one day up to 12 months. If you are at school, this is usually one to two weeks, depending on the employer.

What support will I get?

You will have a supervisor or a manager to help you with your work experience – you may also have a mentor, who will work closely with you in your role.

Do I have to pay for this?

Work experience is a free opportunity offered by employers, to give you the opportunity to find out more about careers in the workplace.

Where can I find out more about work experience?

There are many websites with a range of information around work experience. A few that you could look at are:



My World of Work (Scotland)