Step-by-step guide to getting work experience

Applying for work experience is very similar to applying for a job. Follow these steps to get work experience.

Step 1: Decide what job you would like to try

It's a good idea to do work experience in a job you're interested in doing in the future. If you're not sure what you want to do, you can get ideas from our tools or by talking to your career advisor at school.

Step 2: Prepare a CV

Step 3: Find a helpful contact

To find a contact, you can:

  • ask family, friends and teachers 
  • talk to people in your clubs, sports teams and other community groups
  • get help from your careers advisor at school or school Gateway co-ordinator
  • research online for companies and organisations near you.

How to ask for work experience

Once you have a contact, ask them who would be the best person at their workplace to talk to about work experience. Then you should:

  • contact that person by email or phone to ask them about work experience.
  • offer to email your CV with a cover letter explaining what you can offer and why you want work experience.

You may not hear anything back straight away, but if you haven’t heard anything within two weeks, give them a follow-up phone call, or try another company.

Step 4: Meet the employer

The person you make contact with may like to meet you first before they agree to work experience. Treat this like an interview.

You will need to be prepared to:

  • answer any questions they may have
  • present a clean and tidy image
  • be on time.

You could also ask them any questions you have.

Step 5: Plan and write down the details

If the interview went well and you have been offered some work experience, you need to talk to the employer about what you will be doing.

Things you need to cover are:

  • what days you will work
  • how long you will spend with them
  • what kinds of tasks you might do
  • some goals you’d like to achieve from being there
  • transport options to and from the workplace.

If you are unsure about anything, it's best to ask now.

Step 6: Survive your first day

You might feel nervous on your first day. Here are some tips to help the first day go smoothly.

  • Be there on time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially as this shows the employer you are interested.
  • Have the right attitude – treat it as you would a real job. This could be your next employer.
  • If you have any problems or misunderstandings, speak to the person looking after you.

Step 7: Make the work experience count

You can make the work experience count by:

  • asking your supervisor if you want to know more about a job or try another job in the workplace
  • completing your Gateway workbook or NCEA unit standards.

Near the end of your work experience, let your supervisor know:

  • if you liked and appreciated the work experience
  • whether you are interested in working for the company in future
  • if you haven't completed all your Gateway workbook or NCEA unit standards.

Ask your supervisor if they're willing to be your referee for future job applications, and make sure to stay in contact with them.

Step 8: Update your CV

Update your CV while the things you did and learned are fresh in your mind.
You should also consider if the work experience made you want to carry on with that career or try something different. Things to think about include:

  • What did you learn from your experience?
  • What did you particularly enjoy?
  • Is this an area that might interest you in the future?

Updated 19 Dec 2018