Work experience is when you do unpaid work with a business or organisation for a short time as part of a formal program at your high school. When you’re at TAFE or university, it's sometimes called a work placement or student placement. These terms all mean the same thing: unpaid work for an employer as part of your study. This page is for high school students.
Here are some steps you can take to find work experience:
1. Decide what job you want to do
You can also browse our career profiles to get a feel for different kinds of jobs.
2. Find out where you can do that kind of work
Do some research to find employers related to the jobs you're interested in.
You could 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.
You could also do online searches using keywords associated with the sort of work experience you want.
If you can't find an employer with the kind of work you're looking for 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
Your network is the people you know. This could include your friends, your friends’ parents and your parents’ friends. It includes people you know from your neighbourhood like sporting coaches or community leaders. It also includes people you know from your school, university or TAFE, like teachers, tutors and career counsellors.
Asking people you already know for advice on places you can do work experience is a great way to use your network. You can also use this as a way to do networking and build your network.
If you live in a regional or rural area, your family probably already has good connections with the local community. Ask them if they know a local business owner who can help.
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 more internet searches 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 find out 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, our What is cold calling? and tips for successful cold calling pages have further information.
6. Write an application
Once you've found someone to offer you work experience, you may have to send a formal job application. Our how to write a resume and how to write a cover letter have information on preparing applications.
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.
Sometimes if you live in a regional or rural area, you might be able to go and stay with relatives in another town or city where there are more work experience opportunities.
Once you have a new list of organisations, you can work through the above steps again.
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
- your local council.
Applying for work experience
Applying for work experience is like applying for any job. Our applying for a job section has advice about job applications, including sample resumes and cover letters to use as a starting point for your own applications.
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 and Training.