What is a work placement?
A work placement is a short-term arrangement which allows individuals to learn and gain experience about a specific job or industry. Work experience is an essential aspect of a CV and for students or young people (or for those wanting to change their career path) this can be difficult when applying for your first job. By participating in a work placement for a limited time within a company, it allows you to observe and learn hands-on, job specific skills and be educated on the career path from individuals already in the workplace.
What are the benefits of a work placement?
There are many ways in which work placement can be beneficial, but the main ones are to increase employability and get a greater understanding around a particular career. Other benefits include:
- Get a greater understanding of the skills required for a particular job
- Determine what you like (or dislike) about a specific job or career path
- Broaden knowledge on the job roles (which some may have not been considered)
- Increase skills and understanding of individuals strengths and weaknesses
- Gain useful experience for CV and provide references
- Help understand employers’ expectations within a workplace
- Give insight into day-to-day business processes of a working environment
How to get the most out of your work placement?
To get the most out of your work placement it is best to have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the limited time you might have. This might mean creating a list of questions to ask during the placement or even having specific goals you want to achieve before the placement is finished.
By interacting with the employees of the company and asking questions you will get a better understanding how best to progress in your career. Questions you may want to ask the company employees could be around your current career goals, how they progressed in their career, what are the possible career paths and what lessons they have learnt during their journey.
During your work placement it is advised to keep a record/diary of any work that you participate in or get to observe. By keeping a record you will have details of situations you have faced and skills or knowledge you have learnt.
Once you have completed the placement, take some time to reflect on your experience. Consider what you have learnt, what you are proud of, the most enjoyable aspect and those that were challenging.
Not only is being able to reflect a good skill to have (especially in a work environment) to be able to learn from your experience, but it will also help identify the transferrable skills which can be added to your CV or used to discuss your experience during an interview.
Other tips to ensure you get the most out of your work placement include:
- Use your initiative, offer to help, and get involved. However, also remember and have an understanding that depending on the nature of the company, there may also be activities which you are not able to perform yourself.
- Be organised, listen carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The company will be aware that you are on a work placement and may never have come across any of the activities they are showing you. By asking questions it will show that you actively listening, proactive and invested.
- Research the company before requesting the work placement – ensure that you will get the learning experience you are after. You may not be able to get a work placement in the specific organisation you would like to work for in the future, but it is important to find a suitable company in a relevant field where you are able to learn the transferable skills you may require.
What does work placement look like at Test Labs?
Work placement at Test Labs will consist of being able to shadow our team and participate in activities in a laboratory setting covering chemistry, microbiology, and material science. If there is an area of the laboratory that you are more interested in, we can tailor your experience with this focus in mind.
At the start of the work placement, Test Labs will provide an induction to help you understand the nature of the business, show you around the facility and introduce you to the team. As part of this, we will provide you with an induction pack which will include a timetable of the activities during your time with us along with the health and safety requirements for the company. Once we have done this and ensure you understand the procedures in place for your safety, we will hand you over to one of the team to get started.
As part of this experience, not only will you be able to shadow the team performing current studies, but we will also take the time to give you hands-on participation for you to gain transferrable and fundamental laboratory skills including pipetting, dilutions, titrations, calibrations, using a microscope and streaking plates. During your work placement we want to ensure you get the best experience, so we will give you the opportunity to be exposed to a range of individuals from lab analysts all the way to management. This will allow you to get answers for questions around a career in science from different perspectives as well as give insight into day-to-day business processes.
How do I start my work experience at Test Labs?
Once you have determined that Test Labs offers the type of experience you are after, you need to then decide which area of the laboratory you would like to focus on. The unique aspect of our laboratory is that chemistry, microbiology and material science is all under one roof so you will have the opportunity to experience all aspects as they do overlap, but by knowing which direction you would like to take your career we can design a specific programme and ensure you are supervised by a member of the team with the most amount of knowledge in that field.
Then you need to know when and for how long you would like the work placement to be. Due to the nature of being in the laboratory, there are a lot of safety aspects to consider before allowing you to participate in activities. As a result, we offer work placements which are a minimum of 2 consecutive weeks. This allows us to ensure that you have enough time to fully take in the experience and not limited the amount of exposure in the laboratory.
Lastly, you will need to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org providing us with as much detail as you can regarding what you would like to get out of the placement. Within this email you will need to include the following information:
- Information about yourself such as your name, school, and school year
- When you would like your placement to take place
- How long you would like the placement to be
- Which area of the laboratory you would like to focus on
You can learn more from other students that have completed their work placements at Test Labs.
See our research and testing facilities
We are fully equipped to perform a wide variety of microbiology tests using bacteria, yeast, fungi, and bacterial spores.
We have built state of the art Test Chambers – all with a stainless steel interior and equipped with a wide range of sensors.
Our chemistry lab is fully equipped to perform a wide variety of tests, that supports formulation and materials development.