Work experience preparation: 5 Steps to Success

 In Job Searching, Student and Graduate Tips

If you’re a fan of The Great British Bake Off, you’ll know that preparation is everything. Work experience is much the same. Lilli Hender from offers five strategies to help prepare for a showstopper of an internship.

Financial planning
It’s been estimated that a month of unpaid work experience in London could cost up to £926. The potentially huge expense is an important factor to be aware of but do not fear. To help cut costs, see if you could stay with nearby friends or family and always check your university’s funding policy.

If sourcing the money from your parents is an available option that’s great, if not, getting a part time job is a good alternative – it counts as further work experience and you, personally, will have earned your place.

Mental preparation
Work experience can feel daunting but remembering that you’re doing it for your own good is key to lifting your spirits. The chances are you’ll enjoy your stay at the company (and you might even be offered a full time role) and if you don’t, it’s a short amount of time out of your life for long-term benefits.

Your placement will ease transition into working life and show employers you’re an accomplished and dedicated candidate; knowing this should help you feel positive about the experience.

Daily planning
Generally, people respond well to structure and routine. When a large portion of your day will be dictated by your new employer, it’s important to put measures in place to ensure you feel you’ve had a significant input too. Apps like Evernote are a great aid when it comes to organizing your work.

Planning what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to eat, and how you’ll get to and from work will help with this. Not only will you be more prepared, eating food you enjoy and wearing clothes you like will help you feel more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

While you can never truly know what to expect from your work experience, researching the company, the location, and the department/role you’ve been assigned will aid settling in and impress your manager. The more familiar you are with the company, the less you’ll have to stress if you’re asked any questions about it.

Research isn’t just for working hours though, if you know there’s a great Chinese restaurant round the corner you can plan to go there after work. Perhaps ask a colleague along, if that proves too scary, there
are much worse things that sitting alone amidst a sea of spicy squid and towers of prawn toast.

Know what you want to achieve
How will this placement help me in the long run? And what can I do to optimise the benefits? These questions can be tricky to answer but it’s important you ask them of yourself, that way you can make the most out of the experience.
Finally, a few tips to help:

  • Ask to be involved in tasks relevant to your career goals
  • Be friendly, your coworkers will be valuable contacts for job references and future opportunities
  • And most importantly, try to enjoy yourself

You’re sure to be an asset to the company, if only a temporary one. With these five steps, you’ll walk your work experience.


Lilli Hender is a recent English Literature graduate. She writes for a desk and office space marketplace.

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