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Work Experience

23 November 2017

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Top Tips for Securing Fifth Form Work Experience

Work experience during the Fifth Form and Lower Sixth is a rite of passage for Stoics. It helps students start to build their CV and start to get industry contacts. Students need to plan with their parents now to ensure that they secure the best work placements for after the Fifth Form have completed their GCSE’s.

December 2017, Fifth Form students will be asked to start to plan their summer work experience. During the summer of 2017, Fifth form students collectively completed 733 days of work experience with various employers including Apple, Vodafone, Christies, British Central Government, professional stunt companies, restaurants, veterinary surgeries, schools, art galleries and many more.

The long summer holidays may seem a long way off, but Fifth Form students and their parents have already started to plan to secure the best work experience placements in the UK and across the globe. Students are faced with so much competition for the best work placements and Stoics need to ensure early applications are submitted. Students need to ensure that they stand out from the crowd when applying for their much needed work experience placements.

The Stowe School careers department is always looking for suitable work experience placements. If any readers of Stowemail would like to offer a Stoic a work placement, please email gwest@stowe.co.uk.

Work experience is more than just something to write on a CV or a UCAS personal statement. It’s a great opportunity to prepare for the working world. Additionally, many students may think they know what they want to study at university or what they want to do as a career, but without experiencing first-hand what the day-to-day duties are in a career, many students may embark on a career without understanding what is involved.

From making contacts and getting noticed to working out what you don't want to do, work experience is an essential element of maturing from a lower school student to the Sixth Form. Stowe School mandates work experience in the Fifth Form and actively encourages it in the Lower Sixth Form.

Here are 10 top tips from Which? University (www.university.which.co.uk) to ensure that you get the best out of your work experience.

  1. Make a good first impression
First impressions really do count. Make sure you turn up on time, are suitably dressed (if in doubt, better to go smarter) and are raring to go. If you show you’re friendly, reliable and competent from the get-go, chances are more opportunities will come your way.  
  1. Get to know people
Greet everyone you meet with a smile and try and introduce yourself to everybody you'll be working with. Don't be afraid to ask people about their roles and how they got to where they are now – they'll be flattered!
  1. Be organised
While you’ll have guidance during your internship, you can’t expect to be spoon-fed the whole time. Listen carefully to instructions and note down important meetings, dates and deadlines to help manage your time effectively.
  1. Get involved
It might sound obvious, but the more you get stuck in, the more experience you'll gain. Be enthusiastic about any task – big or small – and use your initiative to go above and beyond what's asked of you. 
  1. Ask questions
There’s no shame in asking for clarification if you're not sure what you're doing – in fact, employers will respect that you have the guts to ask. But be resourceful - think twice about asking a question that could be answered with a quick Google search. 
  1. Make suggestions
If you think you've got a valuable comment to add, don’t be afraid to speak up. Employers love people with ideas, and your contribution –whether your idea is taken up or not - will be appreciated.
  1. Offer to help
When you speak to people, ask after their current projects and emphasise that you’d like to get involved. Showing you're approachable and keen will ensure they think of you when they need an extra pair of hands.
 
  1. Make notes
Jot down any useful information about particular tasks you've worked on and skills you've picked up. That way you’ll have a record of everything you need to take away from your time there – handy for future job applications!
  1. Ask for feedback
Try and gather informal feedback from your supervisor as you go along, rather than just waiting for a report at the end – it gives you a chance to improve throughout your time there. 
  1. Reflect on your work experience
It’s important to be honest with yourself when reflecting on your internship. If you didn't particularly enjoy it, it doesn’t mean it’s been a massive waste of your time. Even if the only thing you take away from the experience is knowing you don’t want to work in that industry, it’s been useful!
 
If parents or students would like help in securing work placements for summer 2018, please email gwest@stowe.co.uk.
 
Over the next few months, Stowemail will print a number of case studies highlighting some of the outstanding work experience Fifth and Sixth Form Stoics have completed in 2017.
 
 Gordon West, Head of Careers