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Work experience – rewarding and valuable

Doing unpaid work experience, also known as volunteering, can bring you great rewards. Work experience gives you the chance to learn new skills and improve those you already have. You will be helping others at the same time…and helping yourself build a better future. Many people have moved into new types of work on the back of the work experience they’ve done – and you can join them.

Choose the organisation or group you wish to help carefully. Make sure it does something you feel is important, something you feel passionately about. Make sure that the experience will improve your own chances of getting back into paid work.

What you can offer, what you can learn

Don’t underestimate yourself or your ability — even if you don’t have any formal qualifications, you will still have personal skills to offer the right organisation. Take the time to write down the things you are good at and the things you enjoy doing. Perhaps you are good with your hands or you might like caring for others who need help. By using this guide to work experience you should be able to match what you can offer with those who will appreciate and welcome your help.

You’ve so much to gain….

The rewards and benefits of work experience are real. Besides the skills you bring to an organisation, you will find that you will learn more skills through your work with other people and benefit from their experience. The organisation or group might also be able to help you to improve and develop your talents, too. Work experience builds self-esteem, makes you a valued person in the community. If you feel passionate about something, work experience could be the right path for you to follow.

You will have the chance to understand how organisations work; at the same time you will be developing your own confidence and ability to work with others. Your work experience could also make you think about a fresh career path for your future.

Your first steps into work experience….

Decide how much time you can devote to your work experience. Be sensible — don’t offer more time than you afford to give. Rather start with fewer hours or days and build up to offering more as you gain confidence and experience. But the more time you can offer, the more involved you will get. Avoid disappointing yourself or the group you work with.

Check the list you should have made about your skills and interests. Be clear about why you want to get work experience. Here’s a short list of what could make it rewarding for you:

  • get skills that will help you get into paid work
  • meet people and have fun
  • work for a cause you feel passionately about.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to be involved, be upfront about it to the organisation. Being honest and realistic will benefit both you and the organisation.

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