Work experience options

Find out about the types of work experience you can do.

What is work experience?

Work experience can be:

  • any paid work that you do, such as mowing lawns
  • work that you do for your community, such as helping on the marae or sports coaching
  • volunteer work, such as working at a Trade Aid shop every week
  • internships, such as working at a company to get experience with or without pay
  • learning about a job while working on the job, for example trying a job while you're at school.

Why do work experience?

Students experience working on a construction site

Work experience can provide valuable insight into a possible career choice

You learn more about a job or industry

When you get work experience you see first-hand what happens in a typical day on the job. You can:

  • get an idea of what you like and don't like about that job
  • ask people doing the job about how they got into it and what they like about it
  • meet people who you can ask for help to find a job later on
  • learn about all the other jobs in the workplace and if you might like them.

You improve your chances of finding a job

Chances of finding a job are better after work experience as:

You can study for NCEA credits 

You may be able to study for NCEA and tertiary credits while on programmes such as Gateway or Work Inspiration. 

Talk to your school's Gateway or Work Inspiration co-ordinator.

What types of work experience are there?

Speak to your career adviser, Gateway co-ordinator or a teacher at school to get on work experience programmes.


  • You need to be in Year 11, 12 or 13 to do Gateway.
  • To get into Gateway you have an interview with your school, then an interview with the employer.
  • You work part time in a workplace, and also attend school.
  • You study towards NCEA and tertiary credits.

Work Inspiration

  • You need to be thirteen to eighteen years of age to get into Work Inspiration.
  • You need a recommendation from a career adviser or teacher.
  • You work for three days in a workplace with other students from your school. You earn NCEA credits from this work.
  • You get to interview people about their jobs and career paths as well as design and present a new business idea.

Workchoice Days

  • You need to be in Year 12 to take part in Workchoice Day.
  • On Workchoice Day in May you get to spend a day at two businesses of your choice.
  • You watch a presentation and then try different aspects of the job.

Industry events and competitions

Competitions such as science fairs give you a chance to do some practical work while still at school.

Holiday jobs

A girl picks strawberries

Plan some work experience for the school holidays

Holiday jobs can give you valuable skills to add to your CV.

Good places to try for holiday work are:

  • shops and cafes, which often hire extra workers in the holidays
  • beach communities and ski fields
  • farms, orchards and market gardens.

Voluntary work

Volunteering is a great way to gain work experience and learn new skills, and meet people who can help you find related work, or act as a referee when you apply for jobs.

Part-time jobs

A young barista makes a coffee

Many part-time jobs lead to full-time work later on

Part-time jobs help you get work experience – as long as you can balance a job with study and other commitments.

Cadetships and internships

Jess Adlam stands looking at a wall of paintings on a framework

Volunteer work and internships are a great way to get work experience in the arts. Photo: The Central Art Gallery, Christchurch

Cadetships and internships allow you to work for a fixed term while your employer watches you closely to see if you are suitable for long-term work.


  • usually are studying, a graduate or intending to study towards a qualification at the organisation
  • usually paid for their work.


  • may be at university, but are usually graduates
  • don't usually study towards a qualification at the organisation
  • are usually unpaid.

Updated 24 Jan 2019