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Who to approach and how to apply

Who do I send my application to?

It’s best to send your application to the company’s Human Resources (HR) department. This is the team that sources employees for the company, so they’ll know all about vacancies on work experience programmes. Even if they don’t have an active programme, HR will sometimes create an opportunity for you if they’re really impressed with your application.

How to apply

Back up your application with tons of company research. This is how you’ll stand out and make a big impression. Where possible, address your letter to the HR director or manager. If you can’t find it online, call up and explain that you’re applying for a position would like to know who to address your application to. If it’s a small company without an HR department, you can address it to the Chief Executive or Managing Director.

Your application needs to be professional and polite. Highlight why you've specifically contacted that company and why they inspire you. Prepare a well-written letter and a CV explaining why you want to undertake work experience, what you hope to learn and how the experience will help you to progress towards your career goal.

When to apply

If you’re applying for a particular scheme that has a deadline, apply as early as possible because schemes can become over-subscribed very quickly. If you’re not applying to a set scheme, it’s best to contact companies at least six months before you’d like to start. Follow up three months later or whenever they suggest.

In short, no matter the situation, always apply well in advance. Companies need time to plan placements that are beneficial to both sides. If you’ve found out about a placement the week before the deadline, it’s definitely still worth applying. You might be just what the company is looking for!

How old should I be?

Don’t pin down work experience to a certain age group. It comes in many forms, relevant to you at different ages. That being said, 16 to 21 are the most popular ages because they correlate to college and university studies. In the UK, you’ll be first offered work experience in Year 10 or 11. And if you're interested in a future career in engineering or technology, it’s a good time to get started. The younger you are, the more experience you’ll rack up when it’s time to apply for full time roles. Companies generally admire a candidate who started young and shows enthusiasm for the industry at an early age. Start with summer work experience or an industrial placement.