student life

How to start looking for work experience and job opportunities.

Written by Stepladder

A Step in the Right Direction’ : How to get a job – Don’t give up.

A Step in the Right Direction’ : How to get a job – Don’t give up.

A Stepladder Journey written by someone taking her first steps –

Everybody has to start somewhere. The first steps are always the hardest. Where do you look? Who do you talk to? Or even the question of what do I want to do?

‘As an employer, one of the biggest issues I see for young people is the difficulty in obtaining up to date information and knowledge of how an industry works and who is involved. I think education and industry needs to do more to share this information and potential candidates need to work harder to find it.’ Dan Howson. Stepladder

Firstly, some words of advice. Stick your fingers in all the pies. Anything that tickles your fancy for even 5 minutes, something that inspires you, something that you like the look of. Investigate, ask questions, research. Be proactive.

This is all very philosophical, but you don’t want to go through life thinking, what if? You want to go through life saying, I tried, I learnt, I did, I can. Apparently, the biggest regrets in life are the things you don’t do.

So a quick step by step summary on the key factors involved in a journey to gaining work experience.

Step 1: Communicating


Talking is so valuable. People have to listen if you talk to them. Stories are much more interesting to listen to and to see the persons expressions. Explaining who you are and what you want and asking the questions that are relevant to the experience you want to get. The more enthusiasm you demonstrate in your conversation the more people will feed off it and you will inspire them just as much as they/ their industry inspires you.


When you’re too scared to speak to someone face to face or pick up the telephone or leave a voicemail. It’s the more casual letter. Most communication happens over email – its convenient for both you and the company but it does involve waiting for replies. The best thing is that you can attach a CV then and there which, with the right chat in the email, people will look at. Keep the email short and sweet, demonstrating in about 5 sentences who you are, what you do now, what you want to do and why you think you will be valuable to the company and that you hope to hear from them soon.

Step 2: Write it down

Keep note of everyone you meet and every company you come across that looks like it might be for you. Even if you try sending an email or speaking to someone who works for them and they reply saying they don’t have anything available now – that doesn’t mean they wont next month, in 6 months or in a year. So just try, try and try again.

Step 3: Practice

I passed my driving test second time around. I think this was because I experienced the nerves and all the mistakes the first time round that I knew what was coming. This is the same with speaking to people about opportunities, taking part in interviews and how you approach the world of work. Edit your emails every time to say the right thing that sells you at your best relevant to that job or that company. Be creative – if your individual creativity comes across in your application or contact it already makes you different from the rest of the people who have been given structures and boring formats to follow.

Step 4: Prepare

Read about it, follow it on twitter, like it on facebook, read the news archives. Take some time to indulge in the company you are approaching. Preparation comes from the first contact you make with the person or company you are interested in too. Remember their names (see step 2)

Step 4: Don’t be disheartened!

Don’t be disheartened if you do get a no – or that the company you get in touch with don’t have any available positions. It just might not be the right time. They might not feel you are suitable at that time but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other companies you would be perfect to get involved with.

So now the next thing you want to do (or probably before I just spoke at you on how to approach getting work experience) is go on google, type in jobs in event production (for example). Write a list of the companies and start your rounds of emailing the 5 sentences, or phoning up and telling someone what you are looking for.

Don’t be afraid to make the first move. If the first company you approach doesn’t have anything for you they might know people that do that they work with. But that doesn’t mean just stop by approaching the first one. Go through the list, send out your CV and your 5 sentences to as many people as you can.

Don’t rush them though, quality is key. Make yourself quality. Be proactive. Don’t give up. Look for your dream job, just be realistic, you are going to have to start somewhere and work experience is the perfect place to gain valuable knowledge about the industries you want to get into so that you can say what you have done to take a few more steps to making a well respected living.

Finally, some words from a real pro:

‘There is nothing more encouraging than talking to or interviewing someone who has clearly thought about what it is they are going to say about themselves. What’s more impressive is knowledge of the company, individuals and competitors of the business you would like to join. 

As much effort needs to go into your interview technique as it does the content of your CV and do not be put off by this if you are not keen on interviews. Preparation breeds confidence and when you have something to say you will not get stuck. Think of yourself as an actor or comedian preparing for a show, much of their material is repeated over and over again and it just gets better with more practice and the odd adjustment.

Don’t be afraid of sounding like a stuck record and remember you are the only person who hears it time and time again. Be exited about the prospect of getting out there and convincing people they will be crazy not to employ you. This should be a rewarding exercise and not a daunting one. Practice it in the pub and at home and see the results for yourself in your next interview.’ Dan Howson Stepladder

If you need to talk to someone or want to ask someone about who you should speak to first or if you want a push in the right direction, get in touch with Stepladder Worldwide by emailing charlotte@stepladderworldwide.comand as it says in my profile ‘I promise to listen, care, share and do the best job I can to keep you inspired to find the right opportunities for you.’

Talk to you next month. And keep your eye out for Stepladder Worldwide people who are going through the same process as you, telling their story in the world of work in Kettle Magazine.


Stepladder Worldwide is an organisation who source opportunities for young people to gain experience in any desired field of work. For more info click here: