Work Experience – Approaching an Employer

Work Experience – Faux pas (or #fail)

embarrassedOnce upon a time an employer chewed my ear because a student of mine rocked up to ask for work experience with the following words:

I have to do work experience because my school told me to (fold-arms)...

or maybe it was…

I want some work experience because I HAVE to do it (roll-eyes-sigh)....

Admittedly you MIGHT (totally against your free will) be FORCED to DO work experience, and I could play you a violin (in sympathy) or, being the Career-bot I am, go on and on about the BENEFITS of getting out into the workplace and exploring your career options, but that is not the point of this article.

shockIf you were to try one of these sentences on an employer – you might note (if you’re the observant type) that their eyebrows will disappear into their hairline (unless they happen to be bald!)

Why do their eyebrows behave in this manner? Mostly, because they are surprised, but here is what their brain is thinking:


brainSo, YOU want ME to give YOU work experience BUT you are not interested in me, or my business??? Are you kidding me?" 
(The brain sends signal to brows to go upwards).


brain3YOU want ME to give up my valuable time to help YOU for 5 days in MY business - when you clearly don't want to be here? Get outta here!! 
(The brain may even make eyebrows twitch in annoyance).

Do you think employers want to waste their time and energy giving you a placement when you clearly don’t want to be there? Nope!

Rather than ‘blame’ the school for your predicament, you need to shift YOUR brain into a positive gear, rather than a negative one.  This is how you can do this:

  • any workplace experience will help you decide on where you are going and what you might do in the not-too-far-away-future – you will learn new and interesting things which you can transfer to other jobs.
  • only YOU can live YOUR experience, no one else. Sitting at home whilst your mates are on work experience will achieve zilch for you and your future.
  • you may not know WHAT type of work experience will interest you, and that is fine – but don’t get hung up on it – there are lots of things to try whilst you are trying to figure it out.
  • ‘You can’t be, what you can’t see’ – so don’t knock work experience just because you THINK you won’t like it.


Here are two (blameless) sentences you could try when approaching an employer for work experience, particularly if they ask you WHY you want to do work experience with them….

“This is my first time in the workforce, so I am not sure what to expect, but I am keen to give it a go”.


“I hope that doing work experience with you, will give me an idea about whether this is the right career for me... or not”.

fingers-crossedPositive you = happy boss = happy eyebrows… fingers crossed for a positive week of work experience!

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