Blog post
June 11, 2024
Megan Jaram

Making the Most out of Work Experience

Careers in tech
Organisation growth

Completing work experience is a great way to learn more about a sector, gain contacts and develop practical skills which can enhance your employability.

If you’re looking to break into employment, work experience can offer you the first step in building a successful career.  

However - just like any opportunity - it requires commitment, a proactive attitude and a willingness to learn to ensure you make the most out of work experience.  

In this article, we will explore strategies and tips to help you maximise the benefits of work experience.  

What is work experience?

Work experience offers the opportunity to spend some time working in a particular sector or industry to gain practical knowledge and skills.  

It can be completed by anyone but often appeals to students, recent graduates or those looking to change careers.

Depending on the industry, it can include various forms such as internships, placements, part-time jobs, volunteering, shadowing professionals or short-term projects.  

Work experience checklist:

Before you consider work experience, ask yourself a few questions.  

  • What type of businesses would you like to work in? Create a wish list of businesses you are interested in and what you can learn from them.  
  • What are my current skills? Whether you have undertaken a part-time course or bootcamp, list everything you think is relevant.  

How can I get work experience?

One of the questions we are frequently asked is “How can I get work experience?”  

Depending on the industry you’re hoping to break into, you can pursue a variety of strategies to gain relevant work experience.  

One of the first steps is to talk to us at Sunderland Software City, where we will be able to signpost any career opportunities or work experience programmes. For example, Tech Talent Ready is one programme which offers fully funded skills programmes to help you break into the tech industry.  

Delivered in partnership with the North East Combined Authority, Tech Talent Ready welcomes individuals from all backgrounds and experiences.  

Similarly, the job centre is also a great resource for finding out about local employment opportunities, training programmes and career counselling services.  

What counts as work experience?

Work experience isn’t about having a regular job, it includes things such as:

  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Part-time gigs
  • Freelance  
  • Starting a small business  

Activities where you take on leadership roles or work on projects also count. Any activity that helps you build skills and gain knowledge in a professional setting can be considered work experience.  

These varied experiences can help you grow and prepare for your future career. Plus, they will give interesting stories to tell and unique perspectives to bring to the table, making you stand out to potential employers.  

How to make the most out of work experience:

Much like anything you pursue, your experience depends on your willingness to learn and your proactive attitude.  

Here’s how you can make the most out of your work experience.

  1. Show up with the right attitude  

The first step in making the most out of your work experience is to show up with the right attitude. For example, approach each day with enthusiasm and a readiness to take on new challenges.  

Be open to feedback, eager to learn, and willing to go the extra mile. Positive energy and a can-do spirit can make a significant difference in how much you gain from the experience and how others perceive you.  

  1. Be willing to learn

Embrace every opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills. Ask questions, seek out new tasks and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Learning from your mistakes is just as important as learning from your successes.  

The more you actively seek to learn, the more you’ll grow professionally and personally. Showing a genuine interest in learning demonstrates to your supervisors that you’re committed and invested in your role.  

  1. Keep a diary

Whether it is a week of work experience or six months, keeping a diary can be a valuable tool for reflection and growth. Document your daily tasks, challenges, achievements and any feedback you receive.  

This not only helps you track your progress but also allows you to identify patterns, recognise areas for improvement and celebrate your successes. Having a record of your experiences can be incredibly useful when updating your CV or preparing for job interviews.  

  1. Network and build relationships

Take the time to get to know your colleagues and build a strong professional network. Engage in conversations, attend social events and seek mentorship from experienced professionals.  

Building these connections can provide valuable insights, open doors to new opportunities and create a support system for your career journey.

What to do after work experience

The journey doesn’t end when work experience stops; use the skills, knowledge and connections you’ve gained to propel you forward.  

Reflect on what you’ve learned, update your CV with your new experiences and reach out to the contacts you’ve made to keep those professional relationships alive. With a strategic approach, you can turn your work experience into a significant milestone in your professional journey.  

Michael Thorpe, Compliance Administrator completed two bootcamps with Tech Talent Ready. After demonstrating a willingness to learn and a proactive attitude, he was offered a role at Sunderland Software City. He added:

“The Opencast bootcamp expanded my horizons in the tech industry. It gave me a unique perspective on government contracts and web development, opening doors I never knew existed.  
“The Land Digital bootcamp was also an eye-opener. It showed me that you don’t need to be a coding expert to succeed in tech.”

Sunderland Software City is here to help

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, Sunderland Software City is here to help.  

From gaining industry-specific work experience to perfecting your CV, we’re passionate about helping the North East develop a pipeline of talent. To find out more about the work we do, browse our range of career-focused programmes here.