Inspired Directions School Donate

Support for young people

Want to find work experience, get your first job, or work out your options for the future?

Inspire! run programmes in local schools and colleges, but also help some young people one-to-one. If you are local to Hackney, we can support you to gain new skills or find work through the following programmes:

  • HeadStart Action: A social action project which helps local young people who are/are at risk of being NEET (not in education, employment or training) to gain employability skills and experience.
  • Female Future: If you are a young woman aged 16 – 25 who is struggling to find work or training, we can provide a mentor to help you find your next steps.

Alternatively, you can check out our top tips for work experience and life beyond school below.

How to find work experience

How to prepare for your work experience placement

How to find work and prepare for the future

We provide thousands of work experience placements each year for students at schools and colleges in Hackney, Camden and Islington. We source most of these, but some students want to find their own placements.

Want to find your own placement but not sure where to start? We asked Anna from our work experience team for her advice:

Hackney 100 participant talking to his employer at AmazonThink about your favourite subjects and hobbies: what types of jobs might you be interested in? Remember that gaining any work experience is useful; it doesn’t matter if it’s not your dream job. You can still develop skills to use in future jobs, or it could lead to a part-time job now!

What are your strengths and personal qualities: what could you bring to a placement and what would you like to get out of it?

Talk to friends, family and teachers about their jobs. Do they have any connections you could speak to or advice they can offer?

Think about the journey: Decide whether you want to stay in your local area or if you’re willing to travel further. Where can you get to by bus or tube?

Walk around or get on Google! Make a list of nearby companies you want to contact and their numbers and email addresses.

Give them a call and ask to speak to someone about work experience. State your name, school/college, age and the length of placement you’re looking for. Tell them what you’re interested in.

Follow up: If they are willing to offer a placement, send an email to say thank you! Ask any questions you might have here (What do I wear? What time should I arrive?) You’ll also need them to complete a form from your teacher.

Be polite and professional. Don’t worry if they can’t help you first time, keep trying!

Going to a workplace for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Whether you found your own placement, or Inspire! found one for you, follow our advice to make the most of the experience:

  • First things first, call your employer! Once you have your placement confirmed, introduce yourself and answer a few questions. Here are some tips to help you out if you’re feeling nervous about picking up the phone.
  • Research your employer first. Check out their website and social media to find out more about the company.
  • Have a pen and notepad ready to take notes. You can also use this to write down any questions you may have for the employer in advance.
  • Take your time! There’s no rush so take a moment to listen and think before answering questions. Ensure you are in a nice quiet place with no distractions before you call
  • Before you start your placement, think carefully about what you would like to gain from work experience. Your new employer will be really impressed If you have a clear idea of the skills you have as well as what you’d like to gain.
  • Make sure you have work appropriate clothes and a bag ready the night before. Plan your route so you know exactly where to go and how long it takes to get there.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and have a big breakfast – you will need the energy!

And what about during your placement? 

If you’re sick, or will be late for any reason, it’s important that you call your manager ASAP and let them know!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re stuck. You are there to learn after all!
  • Keep a diary of what you get up to during your placement. It could be useful to look back on for your CV or UCAS statement.
  • Ask your colleagues about their jobs and how they got to where they are. Ask for contact details at the end of the placement – they might be able to give you career advice or opportunities in future.

Work experience is for your benefit. If you have any concerns or don’t feel comfortable at your placement, speak to the work experience coordinator at your school.

We asked Beverley, our Social Media Assistant, her top tips for getting ahead while you’re young. Here’s what she thinks:

Get your CV off the ground

Don’t make the same mistake I did by spending hours choosing the perfect font! Unfortunately, most employers won’t stop to get to know you and all your amazing qualities. They’re interested in what you can bring to the job: adapt your CV to the job you are applying for and list the skills and experience you have for that role. Barclay’s Life Skills can help you get started.

Network makes the dream work

It really is about putting yourself out there. Met someone with an interesting job on your work experience placement or at an event? Ask for their contact details! LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for building a professional profile and keeping in touch.

Working for free? Or free experience and opportunities?

Free labour? On the tin, volunteering doesn’t seem so glamorous. However, it can help you gain the soft skills employers desire. Volunteering experience can help you stand out from a pool full of regular Sally’s and Joe’s (No offence Sally and Joe…you’re doing great!). And you’ll be helping your community too, bonus! Visit the Volunteering Matters page for some local opportunities.

Gone are the days of spoon-feeding…

It would be nice if opportunities had two legs and walked in your direction. But in reality that doesn’t happen. Get out of your comfort zone and chase opportunities. You will need to be resilient and persistent: don’t be put off by rejection! Get on Google and see what’s out there: that’s how I got involved in the Legacy Youth Voice.

Up, up and beyond!

If you’re lucky enough to get the job, the grades, or that competitive internship, make the most of it! Go above and beyond your job title and impress your employer. During my Hackney 100 placement, I got involved with recruitment, organised a major event, and supported young people like myself. There’s a room full of people that weren’t as lucky as you so grab every opportunity.

Share via