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We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

Work Experience for 16 Year Olds: Ultimate Guide

08 May 2024

Work Experience for 16 Year Olds: Ultimate Guide


Work experience is a great way for students to get an idea of what work in their desired field is like. It gives them key insights into a role, helps them build knowledge, contacts and confidence and supports potential university and job applications in the future. It can be difficult to know where to look to find work experience, so we've created this helpful guide covering all the information you need.

We offer a range of work experience opportunities for 16-year-olds. View our programmes today, or contact us for more information.

Ways for 16-year-olds to get work experience

At 16, there are several ways you can get work experience. These include:


Shadowing involves spending time observing someone carrying out their role to understand what it involves and how they do it. It's usually short-term, but gives first-hand experience of what an average day in a particular role or field is like. Shadowing opportunities are rarely advertised, so you'll need to be proactive in your search. Formally approaching individuals or organisations that you're interested in getting experience in is the best way to find shadowing opportunities. Include a cover letter that explains why you’re interested, along with a CV (if you have one) to demonstrate your interest and increase your chances of being accepted.

Learn how to write a CV with no experience.

Workplace visits

Workplace visits are another way for teenagers to get a personal experience of a particular field, role or industry. While shadowing involves observing an individual over a few days, workplace visits give a broader view of the work environment. You'll get to see how different teams operate, ask questions to people in different roles, see more of the workplace and get more general insights into how a business in your desired field operates on the day-to-day. Like with shadowing, the best way to find workplace visit opportunities is to approach businesses directly.

Working with a parent, guardian, family member or friend

It’s easy to overlook your contacts when looking for work experience; sometimes, the best opportunity may be right under your nose. Think of whether anyone you know works in the industry you’re interested in. Parents, guardians, friends and family are all great places to start. Even if they don’t work in your field of interest themselves, they may know someone who does, or be able to offer another opportunity that overlaps with what you're after. Ask as many people as you can to increase your chances of finding an opportunity. 

Placements and Internships

Placements and internships are more formal work experience opportunities that provide invaluable insights into a role. They can last from a day up to a few weeks for GCSE students, and are perfect for helping you decide whether a career path is right for you. Businesses in a wide range of industries offer placements and insights, so do plenty of research online and check company websites. Make use of any current contacts you have, particularly teachers, as your school may have links with some local businesses. You can also contact businesses directly and request placements – being proactive will make getting a placement more likely. Companies offering work experience placements include HSBC, the Met Office, British Airways and more.

Tutors and mentors

Finding a tutor or mentor in the field you're interested in will open up a range of opportunities to gain experience. Having a tutor or a mentor is a longer-term approach to building key skills and knowledge, and will support personal and professional growth. Considering people you already know who may be able to guide you is a good first step. You should also put some time into networking; use LinkedIn and similar tools to get in contact with like-minded people, and don't be afraid to ask others for help and advice.

InvestIN programmes

We offer unique work experience opportunities in a variety of fields, helping teenagers take their first step towards their dream role. These immersive, life-changing career programmes for ages 12 to 18 involve meeting distinguished professionals, expert coaching, hands-on experience and more. Opportunities include:

View our full range of programmes for 15-18 year olds, or contact us to find out more.

Virtual work experience opportunities

Some companies offer virtual placements, allowing you to work remotely using a laptop or computer. Virtual placements mean you're not limited to your local area, while still helping you develop key industry knowledge. Search online for opportunities related to your desired field.


Volunteering is a good way to test out different career choices and see what different roles are like. Volunteering opportunities can be less formal than placements and internships. Search online for companies that offer volunteering roles for teenagers interested, or approach companies directly and ask them for opportunities to help.

You can also come up with more innovative volunteering ideas. Examples for specific industries include:

  • Animal care: Volunteer to do some dog walking or pet sitting
  • Sciences: Become a science ambassador or leading science-related clubs in school
  • Teaching: Help out at after school clubs or look for similar opportunities outside of school, such as Brownies or Scouts
  • Sports: Help out at a local team
  • Social care: Visit homes for the elderly as a befriender

Personal projects

Learning while doing is one of the most effective methods of developing skills in a given field, making personal projects a fantastic way to build knowledge and experience. Think about what you can do related to your desired role. If you want to become a journalist, make your own newspaper; if you want to become an entrepreneur, create a product; if you want to become a fashion designer, design your own clothing line.

Your work will provide invaluable knowledge and experience, and is certain to impress potential employers in the future.

Part-time work

Teenagers should look for part-time roles where they’ll build skills that will complement their desired career. For instance, part-time roles in animal care will help develop skills that overlap with those required to be a successful vet. If you consider what you’ll need to perform your desired role well, it’ll inform how you choose a part-time position

Charity work

Charitable organisations are often looking for volunteers, so be sure to look for opportunities online.

How to find work experience for teenagers

Let’s look at some key ways teenagers can look for work experience.

Careers advisors

Careers advisors are useful resources when looking for work experience. Set up a meeting online, over the phone or in person and explain what you’re interested in. They’ll be able to explain the various routes and opportunities open to you, offering guidance and new ideas. Careers advisors are well-informed, and can alert you to opportunities you didn’t know were available, so they’re always worth talking to.


Building a network of industry professionals is one of the best ways to keep up-to-date and alert to any opportunities that arise. Your pool of knowledge widens as your network grows, giving you insights and ideas that you may not have otherwise discovered. Attend events, use LinkedIn and other resources, and join relevant groups, Be sure to prioritise actions that will grow your network and reap the rewards of the opportunities a larger network brings.

Ask people in the industry

Contact people working in the industry you’re interested in and ask them for help or advice. People are often willing to help if they recognise you’re passionate about something, and the worst thing that can happen is you don’t get a reply. 

Email companies

As above, email companies you’re interested in working for directly and offer to help. Being proactive can make you stand out, and even if you’re not accepted in a position right away, a company you’ve reached out to is more likely to think of you in the future should a relevant opportunity arise.

Learn more about how to stand out to employers.

Ask teachers

Ask teachers in your school or college if they know of any contacts or opportunities available. They may know people from university or professional courses that will be able to help you. Your school may also have local contacts who can be of use.

Attend events

Attend as many events related to your field as you can. These can be conferences, conventions, group meet-ups, and so on. Events are great because they put you in contact with like-minded people, immerse you in the field or industry, and help you keep up-to-date with industry news.

Benefits of work experience

Key benefits of work experience include:

Build networks

You'll meet like-minded people and build a network of professionals and employers, which you can utilise in your future career.

Take a step towards your career

Completing work experience can be the first step towards your dream career. You'll build knowledge and skills that will help you in your future role, and gain insights about the industry that will support you in interviews.

Grow confidence

You'll grow in confidence as you build skills and knowledge, tackling real-life challenges in a working environment.

Find your passion

You can use your work experience as a research project to glean insights about what you like in a particular role or industry. Framed this way, even a placement or internship you don't enjoy is valuable, as it tells you what you don't want to do. This will all be helpful when planning your future.

View our guide on finding your future career.

Improve employability

Employers will often look for work experience, so having experience relevant to your role will improve your employability.

To learn about general employability skills, view our helpful guide.

Build soft skills

In addition to building industry relevant skills and knowledge, work experience will also help you develop soft skills like communication and teamwork skills.

What does work experience involve?

Whether it's an internship, a placement, or a less formal arrangement, the idea behind work experience is to get a feel for the particular field or role, the tasks involved, and working life in general. It's an opportunity for teenagers to ask questions, see what they like or dislike, discover what skills they'll need to do well and more. There are a few ways you can make the most of your work experience, both during and after its completion. Let’s look at these in more detail:

During your work experience

  • Be professional: Make sure you turn up on time, dress accordingly, follow the rules and perform tasks as requested 
  • Be enthusiastic: Make an effort to show interest and enthusiasm – it'll help you get the most out of the experience
  • Be curious: Ask questions about anything you're not sure on; this is your opportunity to indulge your curiosity and find out as much as you can from industry insiders
  • Write a diary: At the end of each day, make a note of the tasks you completed and what you've learnt; not only will this help you remember key information, but it'll also highlight areas of interest that you can pursue the next day, or after the completion of the experience
  • Ask for feedback: Ask your supervisor for feedback to see how you can improve – these insights will have value far beyond your time doing work experience
  • Get to know people: Be friendly and make an effort to get to know others – this is the start of your professional network
  • Be proactive: Offer to help wherever you can; you may not realise it at the time, but the impression you make here could land you a role in the future

After your work experience

  • Build contacts: Take down the contact details of those in your new professional network, as they can be valuable down the line
  • Say thank you: Say thank you to everyone who's helped you throughout your time in work experience. Do this in person to as many people as you can, but email those where it's not possible. Also, send a courtesy email to your supervisor after you've left to thank them and let them know you're open to future opportunities, if this is the case
  • Reflect: Reflect on what you've learnt and come up with some related actions. These may be to pursue similar opportunities, to develop work on feedback you’ve been given from someone you’ve spoken to during your work experience, and so on

Get ahead with InvestIN

We offer students an unmissable opportunity to experience their dream career before they've even left school, giving them invaluable insights and a professional network that will help them succeed. All our programmes are designed to help teenagers get a head start in their desired industry, helping them learn key skills and grow in confidence. We offer a range of unique experiences, including:

InvestIN features as an official activity provider on the UCAS application form, and almost 80% of our surveyed alumni who referenced InvestIN on their application form received a place at their first-choice university.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.


How do I get work experience during my GCSEs?

First, speak to a teacher for the subject most related to the field you'd like to pursue a career in. They may have relevant contacts who can help you. Your school may also be in contact with local employers who can assist you. 

Outside of school, you can search online, contact employers directly, look for volunteering opportunities or complete personal projects related to your field of interest. All of these will look good to potential employers once you've completed your GCSEs.

Can year 11s do work experience?

It's common for students in Year 11 to complete work experience. Sometimes this is organised by the school in term-time, while summer holidays are the perfect time for students to look for their own opportunities.

What companies offer work experience to 16-year-olds?

There are a range of companies who offer work experience to 16-year-olds, including

  • BBC
  • EY
  • British Airways
  • InvestIN
  • Met Office
  • Lockheed Martin
  • The Broads Authority
  • UK Research & Innovation
  • Macintyre Hudson
  • Penguin Random House

Look out on their websites or contact them online.


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