How I got my dream work experience gig: Georgie's UN story
17 year-old Georgie reveals how she's bagged herself an impressive work experience stint at the UN. Can you learn some tips to pick up work experience?
You've got some great work experience lined up. Can you share any tips for applying to placements?
Don't allow yourself to get into the mindset of 'this company will never let someone like me work with them'.
I say this because that's how my whole work experience story started.
One of my amazing teachers recommended I apply for work experience at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. I initially ruled it out as I expected the capability of students applying to be so high that it would be extremely unlikely that I would get a place. Why set myself up to fail, right?
Because I wanted to learn about a career in law, I applied to several different firms asking if they had any work experience placements. However, I wasn't successful with any of them.
This further solidified my thinking that if a firm in my own small town didn't want me, I'd have zero chance trying for the UN.
So, how did you end up getting your dream UN work experience?In August, I saw that YouTuber Eve Bennett was on the same work experience placement at the UN that my teacher suggested.
Honestly, it looked so amazing and she was gaining insight into all of the things I want to learn about. Plus, she was getting to travel to a beautiful city and make new friends.
In that moment, I felt so foolish for not applying. That could have been me in Geneva, learning and developing all of these new skills that would benefit me in the future. It was my own negative outlook that had stopped me, not the company saying ‘no.’
Did you apply there and then? Was it difficult?Yes, that night I found the work experience placement online, and I applied straight away. It was quite complicated as I had to print lots of pages off, write a mini-personal statement about myself and post it.
I soon heard back that I had secured a place for a study trip in August 2018 – I was ecstatic!
What was it about the UN that stood out?As part of my placement, I'll be gaining insight into the UN and the human rights field as a whole – in the future, it's an area I'd like to work in. My dream job would be with an international charity dealing in world issues of some kind.
Plus, going abroad for this placement will hopefully help me become more independent, which will be essential for when I go to university.
I am nervous to catch a plane by myself for the first time, though!
How else do you think this UN placement will help with your university plans?Cambridge is one of my university goals (to study theology), so having something like this on my application will, hopefully, help me stand out against others.
Any work experience you have that's related to the degree you're applying to would be impressive on your personal statement. It can also be a good talking point in an interview to break the ice.
- Applying to Cambridge or Oxford? Explore our Oxbridge advice
What would you say to a student who doesn't know where to start?I understand that finding work experience can seem scary. You might be tempted to go down the easy route, such as going back to your primary school for a week because you know your teachers there.
However, looking further afield for work experience is one of the most effective ways to narrow down your career choices! It can either confirm that this is something you want to do, or teach you that the career you have dreamed of is actually not at all what you expected.
Whether you're a Year 12 or 13 student picking up extra things for your university application, or you're a super-organised GCSE student beginning to think about your future, work experience is really useful.
Where can students look for work experience opportunities?The best way to find work experience that's unique and suited to you is simple: research, research, research! This step is really easy – just Google and see what comes up.
For example, for work experience and summer schemes in the legal area, I found a site called All About Law.
I would highly recommend applying to as many different placements as you can. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
Any final tips?Don't get discouraged! Apply for every single work experience placement you see that you think you'll benefit from, even if it's not the exact area you're interested in.
You never know – you might even get your dream placement out of it, like I have.
About GeorgieGeorgie is a current Year 13 student, studying English literature, geography, religious studies and the Welsh Baccalaureate. Georgie is interested in world issues and wants to work with an international charity. She spends her free time reading, going to the gym and writing.
Want to share your work experience gig? We're always looking for student contributors to write blogs, film quick videos or snap some pics. Drop us a quick message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.