Many employers are open to being approached for voluntary work experience. Work experience doesn’t just stop in high school, it’s a great tool to use to learn about what you are interested in and get your foot in the door. Here are some guidelines to help you to start the process.
Simple tips to keep in mind at all times:
- Be professional and polite in your approach.
- Be clear in your request.
- Accept no if that is the answer, and thank your contact for his/her time.
- Keep track of your conversations and arrangements.
Where to look?
Most organisations have information about working with them online. Research their website first and keep a list with contact details on hand during this search stage. There is also the option of a ‘Work for the Dole’ placement if you are registered with Centrelink. Visit Australian Government Department of Employment – Work for the dole for more information.
How to make the first phone call
Calling an organisation that you have identified can be daunting, however, most of the time if your approach is polite and to the point you will find that people will be happy to give you answers to your questions more quickly than by email.
Prepare the information you want to receive and convey. Use this as a guide while you’re on the phone. It will help you focus. Introduce yourself, where you are from and the reason for your call. Ask for the name of the HR Manager or Manager if the organisation is smaller – then ask to be put through to her/him. Outline your interest in work experience with the organisation and ask if the organisation would have any opportunities for you. If yes, then make a time to meet and discuss further and/or email some more information. Make sure you have a notepad with you for all the information you gather!
During your phone call or face-to-face you will be asked certain questions to determine your suitability for work experience. Treat this as job interview practice and prepare in advance. The questions below are a good starting point for what you might be expected to answer:
- What you are studying, and why. (If not studying, what industry or job really stands out to you?)
- What areas of work experience are you interested in completing.
- What you believe to be your strongest employable attributes – this might be particular skills, knowledge, experience you have to offer, or aspects of your personality that are suited to the type of work you want to do.
- The type of role that you are seeking and your reasons why.
- What is important to you in the work you do, in terms of the needs you want to meet (for example a desire to help people) or, values or motivators that are behind your choice of experience and employer.