5 things students really want from work experience

What do students really want from a work experience programme? We've reached out to our database of over 250,000 users to find out.

It’s a fact that every young person needs access to high-quality career guidance to enable them to make informed decisions about their future career.

Organising work experience, whether you are running it virtually or in-person, is tough. With time constraints and busy schedules, it’s not always easy to provide meaningful feedback on a student’s work either. Trying to keep them engaged, while providing beneficial insights into the world of work may leave you questioning how best to build a programme. 

So what do students really want from a work experience programme? We’ve reached out to our database of over 250,000 users to find out.


1. Industry insights to learn more about potential career options for the future

Industry insights provide students with the knowledge and understanding they need to dictate which sector they may want to pursue in the future. Often students are likely to choose an industry they have a great interest in or one where their skills best fit. But with work experience, students can learn about a variety of industries before confirming the best choice for them. One of our students told us:

“I’m very eager to learn about architecture and engineering and would like to explore different avenues in the field to guide my career choice. I think this experience will allow me to gain a better understanding of how the engineering industry is progressing and what skills will be required to keep on top of this ever-evolving sector.” 

Rohan Choudhary

2. Insights from real-world employers who can share their own journey


Work experience can often be a generalised overview of the industry or organisation. Students want to hear from employers in the real world, who can give them a more in-depth view of what it’s like in a particular industry, job role or organisation. It’s also a great opportunity for students to ask questions and delve deeper into some of the areas that most interest them.

Apprentices and graduate speakers are often the most relatable and insightful for students as they’re just starting out on their career journey and are fully equipped with a wealth of knowledge and the most up to date information.


3. Activities or projects that replicate work they would do on the job


Let’s not forget that the point of work experience is to experience the world of work from all angles - which is why a high number of students request activities or projects to complete, that would be similar to the real role. 

“One of the main things I enjoyed about the Teaching Virtual Work Experience programme was how interactive the whole experience was, mostly the videos, activities and quizzes. I absolutely loved every second of it and it only made me want to be a teacher even more.”

Louis Storey

This could be anything from drafting emails to presenting business cases - we have a whole range of ideas for engaging activities you could include. Find these in our free downloadable Virtual Work Experience Toolkit, available at the end of this article.

4. Help them to make informed decisions of their next step after education


Whilst education teaches young people numerous subjects that will guide them to considering a future career in something they excel at or have a passion for, it is impossible for educators to provide a true experience of the workplace without employer contributions and experience.

Most young people are considering their next steps after they leave school. Will it be an apprenticeship? Or perhaps university is the right option? Providing work experience that can help guide students towards their next steps, is vital in ensuring a worthwhile experience for young people. One student told us:

“Gaining engineering work experience would significantly benefit me not only in my prospects of attaining a position on a higher engineering course but would also provide me with valuable insight into the actual experience of engineering work which is often left undiscussed during the education process.” 

Noah Cleverly 

5. To learn more about the skills required for employment within their chosen career


Developing skills early on can improve students' chances of standing out from the crowd when they apply for a role in the future. This is why it’s handy for students to have a sound understanding of the types of skills they need to develop, giving them the time to master these before heading to the interview of their potential future role.

Whether it’s showcasing these skills in a way that gets students involved or sharing best practices, however, you do it - be sure to include the essentials!


Now that you understand what students really want when searching for work experience, it’s time to consider how you can create a programme that works for them. Check out our Employer’s Guide to Virtual Work Experience for useful hints and tips below.





Download our free Employer's Guide to Virtual Work Experience to find out more.

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