How to run successful work experience

Work experience, when done well, can be greatly beneficial to both students and employers involved. Creating a successful work experience programme involves thoughtful planning and execution.

Gareth John, Director of First Intuition hosts a discussion with a panel of experts on how to run successful work experience programmes.

How to run successful work experience

How to run successful work experience

Work experience, when done well, can be greatly beneficial to both students and employers involved. Creating a successful work experience programme involves thoughtful planning and execution.

Gareth John, Director of First Intuition hosts a discussion with a panel of experts on how to run successful work experience programmes.

Aside from the obvious benefits to students, work experience can be a great long-term recruitment strategy for employers. This article summarises key points from the session where guest speakers, listed below, joined Gareth John to discuss the strategies businesses can take to create successful and impactful work experience programmes that benefit both student and employer. Speakers discussed:

  • The importance of work experience programmes for both employers and participants, highlighting the mutual benefits they offer
  • How to design engaging programmes that create meaningful work experience opportunities that maximise impact
  • How employers can use work experience as a long-term recruitment strategy that feeds into a pool of potential entry-level staff

Speakers and panelists

You can watch the recording of the session by clicking the button below.

Apprenticeships: The past, present and future

Create Meaningful and Structured Work Experience

  • Provide a realistic preview of the career field, helping students determine their interest and fit in the career
  • Ensure the programme is enjoyable and interactive to maintain engagement
  • Include development opportunities for current staff, making them part of the mentoring process
  • Follow the job application process, including interviews and onboarding to make the work experience as close to what it is like to get an actual job
  • Offer skills and behaviour training, work on practical cases, and focus on networking and team collaboration
  • Prepare students for a mock interview, providing feedback on their performance throughout the week

Early Recruitment Opportunities 

  • Identify and engage young talent early to build a future workforce pipeline
  • Establish direct connections with schools and educational institutions
  • Emphasise inclusivity by giving opportunities and making them accessible to underrepresented groups 
  • Focus on providing work insight rather than traditional work experience to give a broader understanding of the industry

Promoting Work Experience Programmes

  • Use social media, relationships with schools, career advisors, and career fairs to promote work experience programmes
  • Directly contact schools to advertise the opportunity and its benefits, work with them to offer other careers insights like CV and interview sessions
  • Use existing staff from last year’s new cohort to help promote the programmes either online or at talks in schools
  • Implement programmes that target diverse groups and create inclusive environments

Removing Barriers to Participation

  • Align programme hours with the school day to avoid scheduling conflicts with students other responsibilities 
  • Offer travel allowances, provide lunch and snacks, and consider casual dress codes
  • Cover transport costs and provide a minimum wage for students over 16 to ensure no financial loss

Interactive and Varied Projects

  • Use a carousel approach where students rotate through different departments and services so they can experience lots of different types of jobs within the company
  • Create project-based work for students to do throughout their work experience to help them understand what it is like to work as a team and the different elements that go into working on projects in the workplace
  • Ensure the programme benefits staff by involving them in mentoring and project management, which can be motivational and provide new skills
  • Use practical and engaging activities like simulated projects, role-playing, site visits, and external speaker sessions to make the experience memorable
  • Use motivating and inspirational talks and bring in other members of staff who can act as role models, such as young apprentices, to share their experiences and motivate students

Collaborate with Local Businesses

  • Collaborate with local companies to offer a diverse week-long programme, with each day at a different company
  • This is particularly beneficial for small companies, as it reduces the individual time and resource burden
  • Conduct feedback sessions with participating companies to refine and improve the programme

Virtual Work Experience

  • Virtual work experience is a way to increase accessibility for students regardless of location or circumstances
  • Combine virtual and in-person experiences for the most effective learning
  • Virtual programmes will be most successful when they include interactive elements like tasks and activities to make them engaging
  • Encourage direct communication between students and employers through chatrooms and Q&A sessions
  • Provide clear next steps for students who complete virtual programmes, potentially filtering candidates for in-person experiences
  • Small organisations can opt for hybrid or online work experience options to provide flexibility and reduce resource strain

Continuous Relationship Building

  • Maintain ongoing relationships with students through follow-ups, additional training, and involvement in company events to create long-term talent pipelines
  • Maintain relationships with schools by providing high-quality work experience programmes that they can then encourage future students to join
  • Regularly engage and keep up relations with local schools

Third-Party Collaboration

  • Third-party organisations can assist in creating structured programmes, providing content, feedback, applicants and ensuring accessibility
  • These organisations often have established networks and can handle logistics, making the process smoother and easier for companies

Useful Resources and Slides

2024 FITT Forums

Sprindpod’s slides

Speakers for Schools

Form the Future

Access Accountancy

Skills Builder

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