Work experience

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Work experience is a short-term placement within a business or organisation that you do as part of school, TAFE or university studies. Sometimes it's called "work placement" or "student placement".

Please note: we cannot recommend businesses or organisations for you to do work experience with. Please refer to the information under "How to find work experience" on this page for some tips on finding places to approach about work experience.

Information on this page includes:

> How to find work experience
> Places that offer work experience
> Applying for work experience
> Getting the most out of work experience
> Who to talk to for more information

How to find Work Experience

Here are some steps you can take to find work experience:

1. Work out what job you want to do

Our Career planning resources and Find out more about that job pages can help you think about what job you want when you leave school.

You can also browse our Career profiles to get a feel for different kinds of jobs.

2. Find out where you could do that kind of work

Do some research to find organisations and businesses that related to the jobs you're interested in. Start with an online search or browse the Yellow Pages directory.

You could also do a search on a jobseeker website for that kind of job, and then try approaching the businesses that advertise those jobs. They may also offer work experience placements. 

If you can't find the kind of work you're looking for anywhere nearby, expand the range of your search if you can. You might find the kind of business you're looking for in a nearby town or the next suburb over.

3. Use your networks

Talk to people you know. They might know places where you can do work experience. People you could talk to include:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • School careers counsellors
  • TAFE and Uni student support officers
  • Industry organisations

4. Make a list of contacts

Make a list of the names and contact details for the businesses and organisations you find out about. You may need to do some research to track them all down.

5. Contact the names on your list

Get in touch with the businesses on your list.

If the organisation is a large one, visit their website to see if they have any information about work experience or student placements. If they do, make sure you follow any instructions they provide.

If you can't find any information online about a company or business's work experience programs, contact them directly. For advice on approaching businesses directly, check out our Cold calling - Tips for success and The direct approach pages.

6. Write an application

Once you've found someone to offer you work experience, you may have to send a formal application. For tips on writing job applications, check out our How to write a resume and How to write a cover letter pages.

7. Don't give up

If you work through your list and you haven't found any work experience, don't give up. Finding any kind of job is hard. You may need to broaden your approach. Try thinking about:

  • Other jobs you might be interested in
  • Other companies in areas you haven't looked at yet

Once you have a new list of organisations you can work through the above steps again.

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Places that offer work experience

Here are some suggestions for the kind of organisations that tend to have established work experience programs:

  • Hospitals and doctors' surgeries
  • Universities and TAFEs
  • Vet surgeries
  • Primary schools and kindergartens
  • Courts of law and lawyers' offices
  • Museums and galleries
  • RSPCA shelters
  • Sports organisations
  • Theatre companies
  • Public libraries
  • TV and radio stations
  • Hairdressers
  • Your local council

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Applying for work experience

Applying for work experience is like applying for any job. Check out our Applying for jobs pages for advice about job applications, including sample resumes and cover letters to use as a starting point for your own applications.

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Getting the most out of work experience

The benefits of work experience include:

  • Getting experience to add to your resume
  • Learning what a job is really like
  • Getting a reference to use on job applications
  • Making contacts that could help you find paid work

Before starting work experience you should:

  • Talk to your work experience coordinator about your rights and responsibilities
  • Find out what forms you need to fill in (get it all done before you start)
  • Meet with your employer to talk about what you want to get out of it and what's expected of you
  • Contact your employer at least two weeks before starting
  • Get the contact details for your employer and your work experience co-ordinator

During work experience you should:

  • Do the work your supervisor asks you to
  • Observe the policies of your workplace (e.g., privacy, internet use)
  • Be polite and respectful
  • Be prepared to do some general, boring work (but don't be scared to ask to do more complex tasks)
  • Ask questions if you're not clear how or why to do things
  • Let your school and employer know about absences or late arrivals (e.g., if you have other commitments or you're too unwell to come in)
  • Report any problems to your work experience coordinator before trying to handle things yourself
  • Keep a diary/log book and do any assignments set by your school
  • Keep contact numbers of your parents/guardians, school and employer with you so you can contact them if you need to

After you've finished work experience you should:

  • Finish all school assignments related to work experience
  • Send a letter/email of thanks to your employer, outlining what you got out of the placement
  • Talk to your work experience coordinator about the suitability of the placement
  • Keep a copy of your employer evaluation for use in future job applications or placements
  • Stay in touch with your work experience employer to see if paid work becomes available

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More information

If you have specific questions about work experience for high school students, contact your school's careers teacher. You can also contact the Victorian Department of Education on 1800 809 834 or edline@edumail.vic.gov.au.

If you need more information about work experience for TAFE and university students, contact your student union for advice. 

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