Work Experience. Even the ‘bad’ is all good.

Choosing a career is not something that ‘just happens’ for most people. Everyone asks themselves the same questions at some point in their lives. When you think about what you are going to do when you leave school or your health causes you to reassess what you are doing for work, and it might happen again throughout your working life too. And you might need a change of career.

It doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want to do, or if you have absolutely no idea. No-one else can choose a career for you. You have to make it happen yourself. You might just need to get clarity on what different jobs entail. The best way to do this is to do some work experience or ask someone working in the job role.

Work experience can be the way to learn about:

  • employer expectations,
  • the possible career options
  • employer recruitment practices
  • different work environments
  • working with others
  • the demands of working
  • opportunities to develop and acquire new skills
  • work-related competencies
  • increase self-esteem and self-confidence
  • increase motivation to obtain work
  • what study or further training is needed

It also gives you a chance to ‘try out’ a workplace and can be included on your resume for future job and course applications.

Now everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, abilities, family backgrounds and passions. You need to find what suits you best and what gives you the best chance for success and being happy.

So how do you find out what suits you? Some of your friends might know what they want to do, but it’s okay if you don’t know because even discovering what you don’t want to do is a step in the right direction.

Interests turn into strengths. Strengths get you a job.

Work experience gives the opportunity to learn what type of activities that you enjoy doing, that you’re interested in and what you are good at. It also helps identify what you don’t enjoy or that need further training in. It also enables you to meet people in the industry and ask them what they like about the industry too. Whilst doing the work experience you might even see someone else doing a job that you would like better.

Have you thought there are too many career choices? And how do I know what suits me? How do I decide? How am I ever going to work it out?

So, here’s where to start.

First, try asking people in your personal networks, such as family and friends, to see if they know of any companies or organisations that offer work experience placements. Otherwise researching companies and organisations in your area of interest is also a good idea. Try to arrange a time to sit and talk to some of the employees to find out a bit about their career journey. You can learn a lot from listening to other people’s stories.

Many Australian Government departments offer work experience and work placements. The

Australian Government website has information on cadetships, scholarships and work experience opportunities within Australian Government departments and agencies.

Unpaid work experience can include:

  • vocational placements
  • unpaid internships
  • unpaid work experience and
  • unpaid trials.

You can also check with your local council as well as businesses in a range of industries in your local area. To find out about opportunities, you can get in touch with the human resources department of the companies that interest you. But you’ll need to tell them what kind of experience you’re looking for and what you hope to get out of it.

Be mindful that it’s not unusual to call dozens of employers before you get an opportunity. Sometimes it’s because they have filled their quota or they’re just not interested in hosting a student at that time.

It’s nothing personal, so don’t be discouraged. Keep trying. Ask for help if you need it.

Work experience will not only help you find out what the working in that industry is all about, it will also provide you with skills that will enhance employability and your resume and possibly give you the edge when job searching in the future.

Lastly know your rights.

Do your research as some unpaid work is lawful and others are not. You need to understand your rights and discuss whether or not you are covered if you injure yourself while undertaking unpaid work experience. For information on this visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

ProActiv People Solutions can help you work out your different interests, strengths and abilities and we can do a vocational assessment with you to help discover the job roles that suit you. Get in touch and let’s get to work… getting you to work.

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