Work experience can be a bit of an ordeal for any young person. They are entering a world they know nothing about, full of rules that nobody explains to them; they are wearing different clothes and meeting people quite unlike their family or friends; they are worried about what they are meant to do; and a long day stretches ahead of them.
Most of them would probably far rather be groping through creepy crawlies in the jungle, or at least they would be happier if the workplace challenges were a bit more manageable for them.
Let’s not forget that some of these shy young people may end up being our bosses. There are lots of managers and even some directors who began in the company they are running on work experience.
Work experience leads to – work
Work experience is definitely a boost to a young person’s recruitment prospects. A City and Guilds survey revealed that nearly 70 per cent of employers would prefer to hire an applicant with work experience.
Not only are you apparently more likely to find a job but also you are likely to do better at school if you have completed a stint in a workplace. One thing that makes a key difference is when the school or college gives the young person time to reflect on the experience, consider what they learned, what they found easy or difficult, and how to use the experience to best advantage.
At this point, many young people starting out would really benefit from coaching with a mentor who has plenty of job experience. Unfortunately, this is rarely available; however, many of the employers interviewed felt that the young people who stood out during work experience were the ones who were enthusiastic and keen to learn.
Even work experience that leaves young people swearing that they will never go for a similar kind of job is useful. It helps them not to make this mistake again and to understand that you have to find a fit between you and the work culture you are entering.
What about the bad side?
You tend to see endorsements from well-meaning celebrity figures and managers on the web; however, look into some of the employee forums and a more mixed picture emerges. Employees complain they are landed with the work experience person and there is nothing for them to do, so they try to bounce the person back to the manager.
Other forum posters comment that since their job bores them rigid, how are they meant to interest a young person in it?
Pity the young person going into this kind of environment. It is up to schools and colleges to pull people out of this kind of placement straight away and parachute them into another one – or perhaps leave them there so that they come out with a strong sense of places that are so dire to work in that they will choose the creepy crawlies and the jungle!
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