At school, it can be hard to know what the world of work looks like, and if you don’t want to take a traditional academic path, leaving school can be a daunting time. One way to get ahead and explore a variety of jobs is to do some work experience.

Work experience whilst at school can be as little as a day, or a more extended placement of up to two weeks. It’s an excellent way for you to experience how an office works, or what a particular job looks like from the inside, as these might be things you have never had the opportunity to learn from within the classroom. You might not be thinking about ‘careers’ yet, and it’s very common not to know what you want to do in the future. Work experience helps to develop your practical skills that apply to a lot of different areas, meaning it will be beneficial no matter what career path you end up pursuing.

If you are unsure about the future, you can use work experience to try out a few different job roles. You have plenty of time to think about a career path, but work experience gives you a chance to decide on what you enjoy doing and what you might be good at. Think about what hobbies you have, what you like doing in your spare time, and how you might be able to transfer these things over to some form of work experience. For example, if you play a lot of football or tennis outside of school, you could try a week’s work experience with a coach to see if you enjoy this side of the sport.

On the other hand, you might be more confident about the type of job you want to trial, especially if it’s something you have always been interested in. In this situation, you can use work experience as a way to test out the job and see if it’s right for you. If it is, you can then begin to take steps towards a career in the chosen industry.

Suppose you find a career you want to pursue through undergoing a particular form of work experience. You will already be ahead of the competition because employers will recognise you have experience and skills related to the job role.

After your work experience, you can begin to think ahead. This may involve research on how to find a future role within a company you enjoyed working for. An opportunity may be presented through an apprenticeship, an internship, or even by getting a degree, so it is essential to evaluate all of your options and decide on what is best for you.

For more information about studying at University, visit our dedicated page on undergraduates.