How to find a workplace experience

Workplace experiences can help you make informed decisions for a fulfilling work and life.

Participating in a variety of experiences will increase your understanding of the workplace and give a sneak peek of what your future could look like.

What to think about before you look for a workplace experience

It’s important to know what you can offer your potential employer or workplace. Everyone has unique qualities, and if you can identify what your value proposition and strengths are early on, you will be able to develop and leverage these for success.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What can you contribute to a workplace? For example, are you really organised? Confident with public speaking? Great with computers?

It’s important to make sure that your CV, LinkedIn profile and elevator pitch are in tip-top shape, and CDES has the tools to help. To check out the schedule of workshops and resources, Login to MyCDES.

Steps to take to find a workplace experience

1. Understand what you are looking for. Identify the types of industries and workplaces you would like to approach for workplace experiences or internships, and why. Check out our events and workshops and attend all that interest you. Exposing yourself to a wide variety of organisations will help you see the opportunities available and identify key organisations you’d like to target. Upcoming events and workshop speakers will be listed on MyCDES.

2. Do your research and approach organisations. Investigate each organisation you are interested in to understand their core business and their values. This will help you to plan an individualised approach to this company. Find the names and contact info for staff of organisations you're interested in and ask for details of any opportunities available. Keep a thorough record of what you are doing using an Excel spreadsheet to track and log who you've approached, the date, their response, and any follow up action.

3. Be proactive. You don't need to wait for an opportunity or position to be advertised – call, email, use social media or approach a business in person. This shows initiative and drive if done professionally and appropriately. Access your own networks too – think about who you, your family and friends know who might be able to support you or provide introductions. Personalise your approach by finding out the name of the person you are targeting, a simple search of their website should tell you that!

4. Get organised. Have any required documentation ready and an 'elevator pitch' or statement of what you wish to achieve through the experience.

5. Follow up with a thank-you email as soon as you meet someone or secure an opportunity. If you apply for a workplace experience, but aren’t successful, ask for feedback. Always express gratitude for the opportunity to apply and try to incorporate any comments or suggestions into future applications. The worst thing they can say is ‘no’ - and then you can move on to find something else. If unsuccessful, you can review your approach and seek support from CDES or your faculty.

6. Make an impression. If you are successful, make sure you find out as much information as possible about where to go and what to do: ask who you will report to and where you need to go on the first day, for example. Remember, always go the extra mile. Don’t be nervous: most people have been in your shoes before and want to help! 

Still looking for a workplace experience? You can also think about:

  • Checking MyCDES for opportunities
  • Attending CDES events and expos
  • Searching on other job boards
  • Looking at employer websites for opportunities or approaching them directly
  • Using your personal networks
  • Leveraging your LinkedIn profile

Tap into resources and support

We are here to support you in your journey toward meaningful work. You can:

  • Create a profile on MyCDES
  • Visit MyCDES regularly to check out our helpful resources 
  • Attend a CDES workshop on personal branding, CV basics and LinkedIn 
  • Download a Workplace Diary. This is a resource created by CDES to help you make the most of your workplace experiences. It has activities for you to complete, forms to help you keep track of contact information as you build your networks, and lots of space for notes. If you're undertaking a workplace experience through CDES, we will supply you with this. If you've organised your own workplace experience, you can download the Workplace Diary from the MyCDES resources section.