How to find work experience (year 12 student guide)

5 June 2023

Work experience is an invaluable opportunity for Year 12 students to gain practical insights into the world of work. It offers a chance to explore different industries, job roles, and organizational cultures. By immersing yourself in a professional environment, you can develop essential skills, expand your knowledge, and make informed decisions about your future career path.

Work experience allows you to witness firsthand how theoretical concepts you've learned in school are applied in real-life situations. It helps bridge the gap between classroom education and the practical skills needed in the workplace. By engaging in work experience, you can gain a deeper understanding of the specific industry you're interested in and the roles within it.

Moreover, work experience offers a platform to observe professionals in action and learn from their expertise. You can gain insights into the day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and expectations of different job roles. This exposure helps you develop a realistic understanding of what a career entails and enables you to make informed decisions about your future educational and career choices.

Work experience also provides an opportunity to build your professional network. By interacting with professionals in your chosen field, you can establish connections that may be beneficial later on. These connections can provide mentorship, guidance, and even potential job opportunities down the line.

In addition to the practical benefits, work experience is highly regarded by universities, colleges, and employers. It demonstrates your initiative, commitment to learning, and motivation to explore your career interests. Having work experience on your resume can give you a competitive edge when applying for further education or entering the job market.

Overall, work experience offers a holistic learning experience beyond academic achievements. It helps you develop transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. It also gives you a chance to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, allowing for personal growth and self-reflection.

By understanding the purpose and potential benefits of work experience, you can approach it with enthusiasm and intentionality. It's an opportunity to explore, learn, and discover your passion, setting a solid foundation for your future career journey.

2. Identify Your Interests and Career Goals

Before embarking on your search for work experience, it's important to take the time to identify your interests and career goals. Reflect on your passions, strengths, and the subjects that captivate your curiosity. Consider what motivates and excites you. This self-reflection will help you narrow down the industries and job roles that align with your aspirations.

Research different industries to gain a better understanding of the opportunities they offer. Look into various job roles, functions, and responsibilities within those industries. Consider the skills, qualifications, and personal attributes required for those roles. This exploration will help you identify the areas that resonate with your interests and align with your long-term career goals.

It's also helpful to seek guidance from teachers, parents, mentors, and career advisors. Discuss your interests and aspirations with them and seek their insights. They can offer valuable advice, share their experiences, and suggest industries or roles that you may not have considered. Their guidance can help you make more informed decisions about the type of work experience that would be most beneficial for you.

Remember that work experience is an opportunity to test your interests and gain exposure to different industries. It's not uncommon for students to discover new passions or find that their initial interests evolve as they gain real-world experience. Stay open-minded and be willing to explore various options to find the best fit for your career aspirations.

By identifying your interests and career goals, you can focus your efforts on finding work experience opportunities that align with them. This targeted approach will not only make your work experience more meaningful but also allow you to make connections and gain knowledge in the areas that matter most to you.

3. Research Potential Work Experience Opportunities

Once you have a clear understanding of your interests and career goals, it's time to research potential work experience opportunities in your desired industry. There are several avenues you can explore to find relevant opportunities.

Start by utilizing online resources such as job portals, company websites, and professional networking platforms. Many organizations advertise work experience placements or internships specifically targeted at students. Use search filters to narrow down your options based on location, industry, and duration of the program. Take note of the application requirements and deadlines for each opportunity.

Additionally, consider reaching out to local businesses, organizations, and professionals in your chosen field. Cold-calling or sending personalized emails expressing your interest in gaining work experience can yield positive results. Be proactive and take the initiative to inquire about any available opportunities. Even if an organization does not have an advertised work experience program, they may be willing to accommodate a motivated and enthusiastic student.

Your school's career counselors or work experience coordinators can also be valuable resources. They often have connections with local businesses and may be aware of work experience opportunities or programs. Schedule a meeting with them to discuss your interests and seek their guidance on potential opportunities.

Remember to keep a record of the opportunities you come across during your research. Create a spreadsheet or document to track the organization's name, contact details, application requirements, and any additional notes. This organization will help you stay organized and follow up on your applications effectively.

By conducting thorough research, you can identify a range of potential work experience opportunities that align with your interests. Exploring multiple avenues increases your chances of finding the right fit and opens up various possibilities for a valuable and enriching work experience.

4. Prepare a Professional CV and Cover Letter

A well-crafted CV and cover letter are essential when applying for work experience opportunities. They showcase your skills, qualifications, and enthusiasm to potential employers. Here are some tips to help you prepare a professional CV and cover letter:

4.1 CV Tips:

  • Start with a concise personal statement that highlights your strengths and career aspirations.
  • List your education history, including relevant subjects, grades, and any notable achievements.
  • Highlight any extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or leadership roles that demonstrate your skills and interests.
  • Showcase any relevant skills, such as computer proficiency, language skills, or certifications.
  • Include work experience if you have any, even if it's not directly related to your desired industry.
  • Use bullet points to detail your responsibilities and accomplishments in each role.
  • Include references or indicate that they are available upon request.
  • Proofread your CV thoroughly to ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors.

4.2 Cover Letter Tips:

  • Address the cover letter to the appropriate person or department.
  • Start with a strong opening paragraph that grabs the reader's attention.
  • Highlight your interest in the specific organization and why you're interested in gaining work experience there.
  • Showcase your relevant skills, experiences, and qualities that make you a strong candidate.
  • Explain how the work experience aligns with your career goals and how you can contribute to the organization.
  • Keep the cover letter concise and focused, typically no longer than one page.
  • Proofread the cover letter to ensure it is error-free and reflects your professionalism.

Remember to customize your CV and cover letter for each application, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences. This personalization demonstrates your genuine interest in the opportunity and increases your chances of standing out among other applicants.

By preparing a professional CV and cover letter, you present yourself as a motivated and well-prepared candidate. These documents create a positive first impression and set the stage for a successful work experience application.

5. Networking and Making Connections

Networking is a valuable tool when it comes to finding work experience opportunities. Building connections and fostering relationships with professionals in your desired industry can open doors to exciting opportunities. Here are some tips for effective networking:

  • Attend career fairs, industry events, and seminars related to your field of interest. These events provide opportunities to meet professionals and learn more about potential work experience opportunities.
  • Join professional organizations or student associations related to your desired industry. These groups often host networking events and provide platforms to connect with professionals and fellow students.
  • Utilize online networking platforms such as LinkedIn to create a professional profile. Connect with professionals in your field, join relevant groups, and engage in discussions to expand your network.
  • Reach out to family, friends, teachers, or mentors who may have connections in your desired industry. They can introduce you to professionals or provide recommendations for work experience opportunities.
  • When networking, approach conversations with a genuine interest in learning from others. Ask insightful questions, listen actively, and make meaningful connections.
  • Follow up with professionals you meet by sending a thank-you note or connecting with them on LinkedIn. Maintain these connections and nurture relationships by staying in touch periodically.

Networking not only helps you find work experience opportunities but also provides valuable insights, guidance, and potential mentors. Remember, building relationships takes time, so be patient and proactive in expanding your network.

6. Approaching Potential Work Experience Providers

Once you have identified potential work experience providers through your research and networking efforts, it's time to approach them with your application. Here are some steps to follow when reaching out to potential providers:

  1. Start by researching the organization thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with their mission, values, and current projects to demonstrate your genuine interest.
  2. Find the appropriate contact person or department to address your application to. This could be a hiring manager, work experience coordinator, or HR representative.
  3. Craft a well-written email or letter expressing your interest in gaining work experience with the organization. Customize the message to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and why you believe you would be a valuable addition to their team.
  4. Attach your CV and cover letter to the email or include them in your application package. Ensure they are properly formatted and free of errors.
  5. Follow any specific application instructions provided by the organization. Some may require additional documents or have a specific application form to complete.
  6. Send your application in a timely manner, respecting any application deadlines indicated by the organization.
  7. Keep track of your applications and follow up with a polite email or phone call if you haven't received a response after a reasonable period.
  8. If you're invited for an interview or further assessment, prepare thoroughly by researching the organization, practicing common interview questions, and showcasing your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Remember to approach potential work experience providers with professionalism and a genuine interest in their organization. Tailor your application to demonstrate how your skills and experiences align with their needs. And don't be discouraged if you face rejections along the way – view them as learning experiences and opportunities to improve your application for future opportunities.

7. Making the Most of Your Work Experience

Once you secure a work experience opportunity, it's important to make the most of the experience to gain valuable insights, develop new skills, and build professional relationships. Here are some tips to maximize your work experience:

  • Arrive punctually and dress appropriately according to the organization's dress code.
  • Take initiative and be proactive in seeking new learning opportunities and challenging tasks.
  • Ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the industry, company, and specific projects.
  • Observe and learn from professionals in your field. Take note of their work ethics, communication styles, and problem-solving approaches.
  • Seek feedback on your performance and be open to constructive criticism. Use feedback to improve your skills and knowledge.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities within the organization. Connect with colleagues, attend team meetings, and participate in company events.
  • Document your experiences, accomplishments, and lessons learned during the work experience. This will be valuable for future job applications and interviews.
  • Express gratitude and show appreciation to your supervisors, colleagues, and mentors for the opportunity to learn and grow.

Remember, work experience is not just about completing tasks; it's about building relationships, expanding your knowledge, and developing transferable skills. Approach each day with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, and you'll make the most of your work experience.

8. Reflecting on Your Work Experience

After completing your work experience, take some time to reflect on the overall experience and the skills you've acquired. Reflecting on your work experience allows you to gain valuable insights and use them to further enhance your career development. Here are some key points to consider during this reflection:

  • What were the main tasks and responsibilities you undertook during your work experience?
  • Did you acquire any new skills or enhance existing ones during your time there?
  • How did the experience align with your career goals and aspirations?
  • What were the most valuable lessons you learned during your work experience?
  • Did the experience confirm or change your perception of the industry or career path you're interested in?
  • Did you build any professional relationships or connections that may be valuable in the future?
  • What aspects of the work experience did you enjoy the most? What challenges did you encounter?
  • How can you apply the knowledge and skills gained from this experience to future opportunities?

Taking the time to reflect on your work experience helps you gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths, interests, and areas for improvement. It also allows you to evaluate the suitability of the industry or career path you're considering. Use this reflection as a stepping stone to plan your next career moves and make informed decisions.

9. Updating Your CV and Highlighting Your Work Experience

Work experience is a valuable addition to your CV, as it demonstrates your practical skills, industry knowledge, and professional development. When updating your CV to include your work experience, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Start by reviewing your existing CV and identifying sections that can be updated or expanded to accommodate your work experience.
  • Create a dedicated section for work experience, listing your placements in reverse chronological order. Include the organization name, position title, dates, and a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Highlight the transferable skills and specific achievements gained during your work experience. Focus on results, such as successful projects, improved processes, or positive feedback received.
  • Showcase any relevant tasks, responsibilities, or projects that align with the industry or career path you're pursuing.
  • Quantify your accomplishments where possible. Include metrics or numbers to demonstrate the impact of your work.
  • Tailor your CV for each job application, emphasizing the most relevant work experience and skills for the position you're applying for.
  • Consider including a separate section for any additional training, certifications, or workshops you attended during your work experience.
  • Proofread your updated CV carefully to ensure it is error-free and presents your work experience effectively.

Your work experience section should provide a clear overview of your relevant placements, responsibilities, and achievements. By updating your CV to showcase your work experience, you'll present yourself as a strong candidate with practical skills and real-world experience in your desired industry.

10. The Value of Work Experience for Year 12 Students

Work experience offers numerous benefits for Year 12 students as they begin to explore potential career paths and make informed decisions about their future. Here are some key reasons why work experience is valuable for Year 12 students:

  • Insight into the working world: Work experience provides a glimpse into the real working world, allowing students to understand the dynamics, expectations, and challenges of different industries and professions.
  • Exploration of career options: It gives students an opportunity to test out various career paths and gain a deeper understanding of their own interests, strengths, and areas of passion.
  • Development of employability skills: Work experience helps students develop crucial employability skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability.
  • Networking opportunities: Students can establish valuable connections and network with professionals in their field of interest, which can lead to mentorship, future job opportunities, and industry insights.
  • Enhanced CV and university applications: Including work experience on a CV or university application demonstrates a proactive attitude, commitment to learning, and practical exposure to the chosen field.
  • Confidence building: Engaging in work experience allows students to step out of their comfort zones, take on new challenges, and build confidence in their abilities.
  • Decision-making support: Work experience helps students make more informed decisions about their educational and career pathways, enabling them to align their choices with their interests and aspirations.

Year 12 students who actively seek and engage in work experience opportunities gain a competitive edge in the job market and university applications. It helps them build a solid foundation for their future career by providing valuable insights, skills, and connections.


Work experience plays a crucial role in the career development of Year 12 students. It provides them with a unique opportunity to gain practical insights, explore different industries, and develop essential skills that will benefit them in the future. By actively seeking and engaging in work experience, students can make informed decisions about their educational and career pathways.

Work experience offers a valuable glimpse into the working world, allowing students to understand the dynamics, expectations, and challenges of various industries and professions. It provides them with the chance to test out different career paths and gain a deeper understanding of their own interests, strengths, and areas of passion. Engaging in work experience also helps students develop crucial employability skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability. These skills are not only valuable in their future careers but also in their everyday lives.

Another significant benefit of work experience is the networking opportunities it offers. Students can establish connections and interact with professionals in their field of interest, which can lead to mentorship, future job opportunities, and valuable industry insights. These connections can prove to be invaluable as students navigate their career paths and seek guidance and support along the way.

Including work experience on a CV or university application demonstrates a proactive attitude, commitment to learning, and practical exposure to the chosen field. It enhances the students' CVs, making them stand out to potential employers or university admissions officers. Work experience also helps students build confidence in their abilities by taking on new challenges, stepping out of their comfort zones, and proving their skills in real-world settings.

In conclusion, work experience is a vital stepping stone for Year 12 students as they embark on their career journeys. It provides them with valuable insights, skills, and connections that will contribute to their future success. By actively seeking work experience opportunities, preparing well, and making the most of the experience, students set themselves up for a bright and promising future. Remember, work experience is not just about completing a placement; it's about gaining valuable experiences, growing as individuals, and shaping their career paths with confidence.