Exploring summer work experience opportunities

With the summer holidays approaching, you're going to want to know how to keep the kids busy. If you have older children who are approaching the end of their time at school, a work experience stint is an option worth considering.

What kind of work experience could my child do?

Work experience can take many different forms. It might involve spending a week in a workplace of interest, becoming a volunteer or if they're lucky securing a paid part-time or casual job. Unpaid work experience is all about observing the world of work, so your child won't be taking on tasks otherwise completed by a trained professional. That said, being immersed in a particular field will give them a good indication of what it would be like to enter the occupation. Depending on the industry and type of company, work experience tasks might include anything from admin (photocopying, stuffing envelopes or confirming event registrations) to greeting customers or clients.

Where can my child get work experience?

Your child can try out just about any field of work from helping out at the local animal shelter to getting their written work published (Youth Central's guest reporter program is a great example). There are also many opportunities within charities, which usually need volunteers in the lead-up to major events and fundraising drives. Another option is to bring them along to your own workplace for a day even if it's just to give them an idea of what it's like to work in a certain industry. Speak to your child's career adviser at school, as they will likely have a list of opportunities in the local area.

Why should my child get work experience?

As students enter their last couple of years at school, few have a clear idea of what they want to do once they graduate. Gaining work experience while still at school can help to give your child an idea of where they're heading whether it's into the workforce or tertiary study. It can also broaden their horizons by showing them the breadth of jobs out there. Another benefit is the opportunity to develop maturity, independence and self-confidence.

When is the best time to get work experience?

Getting work experience over the break won't be a full-time commitment, so you can rest assured your child will still get the downtime they need before the new year. They might organise to attend a workplace once a week, every day for a short period or even just take one day to see what it's like. Schedules will depend on different workplaces' needs but should be flexible.

How does my child get work experience?

Before your child starts exploring their options, they'll need to determine what they're looking to get out of a work placement. What are they hoping to learn and achieve? Is there a particular industry, workplace or role they want to try out? Once they've answered these questions, they're ready to begin their search. They can start by visiting companies' websites, emailing or calling to see if opportunities are available. When they commence their placement, encourage them to share their experiences with you what they learnt and what they want to pursue further, as well as any areas they're happy to cross off their list of options.

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