From Education to Employment: The importance of work experience!

Why should young people go on work experience?

This blog is brought to you by Gena MacLean, our Programme Coordinator, here Gena explains how by doing work experience in school helped her move onto further education and employment.

Why should young people go on work experience?

The answer is simply that whilst gaining good grades at school is an excellent achievement, employers also value and want to know that you have some knowledge of what is expected in a workplace environment. Employers will expect you to be punctual, honest, be able to work to tight deadlines and can work successfully as part of a team. Work experience is also highly valuable for a young person when deciding on a suitable career path and demonstrates that the individual has been keen enough to find out what it would be like to work in a particular sector before applying for a job, apprenticeship or higher education course.

What was my work experience like?

I highly recommend that young people go on work experience before applying to a higher education course or job opportunity. I found this process highly useful when I was keen to gain a place on a midwifery training course. Through being proactive and arranging my own work experience on the maternity ward at the Belford Hospital, I learned a lot about what the role of a midwife entailed and through helping the midwives with their clinics and general duties learned about the importance and value of teamwork, planning, attention to detail and always maintaining confidentiality.

In total I spent two weeks with the midwives at the Belford Hospital, helping on the ward every day after school and shadowing the team enough to make the decision that I was going to apply for the direct entry midwifery course at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. The work experience I had arranged was highly valuable as I could sell myself better in my UCAS application form, stating that I had worked with the midwifery team helping to take blood pressures, pulses, temperatures and participate at patient clinics. A few weeks later I was happy to receive an invitation to an interview at the University!

What were the benefits of me going on work experience?

I had always known that midwifery was highly competitive to get into and that there would be lots of young people applying for one of the 13 places on the course. Work experience therefore helped to strengthen my application as employers and course providers like that young people have had work experience before applying for such opportunities. It demonstrates that candidates are interested enough to try and gain some form of meaningful work exposure before applying for vocational opportunities. It can also be the general perception that individuals that know what is involved are more likely to stay working in that sector.

I found that work experience at the Belford Hospital and advice from the midwives gave me a lot to talk about at my interview. I felt confident and knowledgeable about the role of a midwife after working closely with the hospital team. Also, to my absolute delight, I found out a few weeks later that I had secured one of the thirteen places on the course out of 800 applicants!

During my training, I successfully managed to help deliver 12 babies and participate in lots of team activities which helped to save lives and ensure a happy outcome for both mother and baby!

If you would like to find out more information about becoming involved in our work experience programme, please visit
Alternatively contact the DYW West Highland team on: / 01397 705 765 / Facebook / Twitter or call in and see us in the office at 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6DH