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June 1, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Time to Get Proactive: Tips on How to Make the Most Out of Your Work Experience

By Indy Bamra, Employability Officer

Work experience is a wonderful thing to highlight on your CV, but it is also an opportunity for you to prepare for what the world of work is like and for your future career.

If you will be doing an internship, work experience or plan to gain some work experience this summer, then there is no doubt that your experience will be invaluable! It’s your chance to explore career choices and sometimes it can even make you realise the things that you no longer want to do – which is also a positive. You shouldn’t feel guilty about not wanting to pursue a career if you find that your work experience didn’t match or exceed your expectations.

If you’re worried about your upcoming work experience or not sure what to expect, the good news is that you can do some planning beforehand, during and afterwards to make the most out of it.

1. Create some goals

To really maximise the time that you have to complete your work experience, it’s a good idea to set some goals before. This will help you to feel more prepared and enjoy the experience. Here are some goals that you may want to consider:

  • What do you want to get out of this work experience?
  • Are there any skills you want to learn or improve on?
  • Are there any projects that you’d like to be part of?

2. Be organised

Although you’ll have some guidance during your work experience, be sure to take notes when someone is giving you instructions, important deadlines, or meeting requests. This will help you to feel more organised, and efficient, and be able to manage your workload.

3. Take notes

Make notes about any of the work that you’ve done, or any useful skills that you’ve gained as that will come in handy when you need to update your CV or when applying for jobs or other work experience opportunities.

4. Be positive

Having a positive attitude and showing your willingness to learn may also give your line manager the confidence that you can work on additional projects, which could give you more exposure to other areas of the business.

5. No questions, no answers

Employers know that you’re there to learn and gain experience. So, ask them questions – remember that this is your chance to find out if this is a potential career choice for you. You might need clarification on something that’s not clear. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, employers know you’re there to learn! You might want to be resourceful and double-check first if your question can be answered by a quick Google search.

6. Get to know people

Your work experience is an opportunity to network. Get to know people in the business and ask them what they do, and what it’s like to work at the company. This may help you to figure out if you’d like to gain some experience within a particular team or role as well as enhance your communication and social skills.

You can also ask to stay connected/up to date with colleagues by noting down their email addresses, and contact details, or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

7. Ask for feedback

There’s no harm in asking for feedback throughout your work experience, you don’t need to wait until the end. By asking for feedback you’re showing the employer that you care about doing an excellent job, highlighting your work ethic and willingness to learn and develop. Feedback throughout will allow you time to improve on the skills you want to master in a real work-life setting.

8. Take time out to reflect

No work experience is going to be a waste of time – even if you feel like it isn’t a particular job, industry, or company that you want to work for, at least you know that now. You can rule that out and continue your search and career planning towards something you do want to do. The experience would have helped you a little, even if it’s just more exposure to the working world. You may be keen to explore another role that you had the chance to be exposed to during your work experience.

Finally, if you’re looking for some work experience – look at our work experience webpage. Or if you’d like to explore your work experience options in more detail, book a careers appointment with one of our careers advisers.

Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your CareerWork experience