Work Experience

Finding and arranging high quality work placements for 5th and Lower 6th Form pupils can be a time-consuming process for pupils and parents. Researching, networking and applying for placements should start early as in some sectors, e.g. healthcare, the process can take months to process applications and there are specific deadlines to meet. This might vary between NHS trusts.

Applying directly to a national organisation

Many well-known large businesses such as Tesco and HSBC operate their own work experience programmes for pupils. 

There is no easy way to find out whether an organisation operates its own work experience programme. You will need to invest the time in researching placements and networking to identify potential placements and how to apply. 

Some businesses run work experience programmes in partnership with other businesses and not-for-profit organisations. Barclays, for example, encourages other businesses to offer placements via its Life Skills platform and provides a wide range of use resources for pupils and parents.

Specialist work experience websites

There are some online resources that offer access to some national volunteering/work experience placements. Success at School and Student ladder websites, for example, you will find placements covering every part of the country, alongside lots of practical careers advice.

Join Stowe Connect

Pupils at Stowe School have the added benefit of being able to network with Old Stoics.

The process is in two stages:

  1. Write your CV and a cover letter outlining how you would benefit from working with an Old Stoic as your mentor. You will then meet with a member of the careers team who will be able to advise you on how to improve your CV and cover letter before sending it on to prospective Old Stoic mentors.
  2. As members of the Sixth Form, you and your parents can access "Stowe Connect". Here you will find a list of potential mentors. To find out more about Stowe Connect visit

Contacting local small businesses - The most effective way of sourcing work experience

Use your local, family and professional networks to source a work experience placement. There is a lot of competition for work expereince placements. Remember, the main aim of work experience is to gain experience of the world of work and to develop transferable skills that you can mention in your personal statement. (see examples of transferable skills you can mention in your personal statement).

It's not so much about where you did the work experience, its what you do, learn and experience on the placement. Naming a FTSE 100 employer in your personal statement will not impress a university admissions tutor.

SMEs account for 60% of all private sector employment in the UK and are a good source of work experience placements. Your parents might own or manage an SME and might be able to design a valuable work experience programme for you to help you develop some of the skills mentioned in our Gap Year section.

Placements with smalls businesses can give pupils valuable experience of different aspects of a business and insights into what it takes to run a successful business. 

Applying directly to an SME for work experience is a new skill that you will need to develop. Our careers team can help you develop your CV and a cover letter that is targetted at each application.

The first thing to do is to ask your friends and family members if they know of any businesses that would be happy to offer a work placement. You’ll be surprised how many local businesses you have access to through your families network. 

"If YOU don't ask, YOU don't get." - Applying to multiple employers is advisable as not all of them will reply, let alone offer you a placement. Don't be discouraged by this, it's simply a reality of the world of work. Hence why the characteristic resiliance is in such demand in industry.

Work Experience Diary

The Work Experience Diary should be completed during a work placement. It contains some guidance concerning insurance and a checklist that we would encourage you to run through with their employers