Work experience is a tricky one and often it is really a case of putting a lot of feelers out there to hopefully get at least one bite. What you want to do is draw yourself up a hit list of at least 15 potential companies that you think would be beneficial to you and where you believe you could really learn something. A trick I’ve always used is to know and work out what you can offer them before approaching them. What I mean by that is you need to turn yourself into someone who its impossible to pass up. Make them want to give you the work experience.
If you approach them without a plan the chances are you are just one of a number. If you specialise in something in particular let them know, if you have a talent that could be useful to them as part of your work experience let them know, in other words find something that is unique about you that will make them want to give you that chance.
I still believe there is a fair amount of formality around work experience and you would do better to approach each company separately by email, as sending someone a message on Twitter is a little pushy – Facebook is a little better as it has a proper message facility that gives you more opportunity to introduce yourself and is a more accepted format for this type of thing.
Whatever you do make sure you do your due dilligence and personalise your email/message. Find out the name of the person you need to approach and know something about the company so you can reference that in your email. If they do destination weddings you might want to say – I know you specialise in destination weddings and this is an area I am hoping to get into myself.
It never hurts to get yourself involved with networking groups either, if you have any in your area that are wedding related. Two that I would recommend are the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and The National Association of Wedding Professionals.
I’ve put together a list of my top tips that will hopefully help you to secure a work experience opportunity of your own:
- Before undertaking any type of work experience you must first consider what time you have available for it.
- Consider how far you’ll travel for work experience, costs of travel & using public transport late at night if you don’t have access to a car of your own.
- Be honest with yourself about how many hours you would be prepared to devote to unpaid opportunities. Not many work experience opps are paid ones. Sometimes out of pocket expenses such as travel are paid but that is all.
- Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way. Update your CV highlighting transferable skills & experiences and get to work. Put yourself out there on social media and anywhere else you can think of because you never know who might be watching and be able to help.
- Write yourself a ‘killer’ Cover Letter that demonstrates your passion and motivation to learn. There is nothing worse than receiving a generic letter that has clearly been sent to a hundred companies before yours.
- Contact the types of businesses and organisations you would like to learn from. Don’t just blanket mail. Be very targeted in your approach so you get the most out of any experience you have.
- Many assume that only big companies take people for work experience. It’s worth trying the small companies. More often than not these are more likely to be able to give you the chance you are looking for as they often need a spare pair of hands in the busy periods. That is your opportunity to learn.
- Employers are impressed by initiative, but do be prepared to be knocked back too. You have to be persistent and where you can, ask for feedback from anyone who gives you a ‘no’. Learn from the experience of applying and adjust your approach as necessary.
- Work experience can also be found amongst your existing networks. Many businesses & organisations hold events, but they won’t come to you. You need to do the groundwork and put in the hard yards.
- Consider approaching your supervisor or employer if you are currently working and sharing your interest in events with them, they might surprise you and let you organise the work Xmas do, or something similar.
- Don’t forget friends & family. Helping a friend with her Wedding offers great styling & planning opportinuties. Helping your local church or club with a fundraiser offers valid opportunities to gain practical event planning experience too.
Events are happening everyday all around us. The key is to be proactive and to think outside the square.