What Students Really Want from a Work Placement

We asked two of our recent work placement students to consider, “What do you really want
from your work placement?” They chose to write it as a blog to share with our community.

To make the most out of a work placement opportunity, it’s important to set yourself up for a successful week.

Things to Find Out Before Attending Your Work Placement

  • Dress Code: Know what is appropriate to wear to make a good impression.
  • Work Hours: Confirm your start and finish times to ensure punctuality.
  • Contact Person: Identify who to report to on your first day.
  • Company Culture: Understand the company’s values and work environment.
  • Tasks and Responsibilities: Get an idea of what tasks you will be expected to perform.
  • Facilities and Amenities: Find out about lunch areas or options nearby, bathrooms, and any other facilities.

What Your Host Employer Should Provide on the First Day

  • Orientation Session: A tour of the workplace and an introduction to the team.
  • Safety Briefing: Information on emergency procedures and safety protocols.
  • Workstation Setup: A designated space with the necessary tools and equipment.
  • Task Overview: Clear instructions and expectations for initial tasks.
  • Mentorship: A designated mentor or supervisor for guidance and support.
  • Company Policies: An overview of important policies and procedures.

Attending a work placement can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for students. A seamless transition from school to the workplace can significantly enhance the learning experience and provide valuable insights into the professional world. Here’s what students, especially those in Year 11-12 completing a vocational education and training (VET) course, truly want from their work placements.

1. Clear Expectations and Preparation

Students appreciate knowing what is expected of them before they start their placement. This includes a clear outline of daily responsibilities, the skills they will develop, and the overall goals of the placement. When students are well-prepared, they can transition smoothly and focus on making the most of their experience.

2. Supportive Environment

A supportive and welcoming environment is crucial. Students thrive when they feel valued and part of the team. A structured induction process that includes meeting colleagues, understanding the company culture, and receiving mentorship helps students settle in quickly. Knowing that they have someone to turn to with questions or concerns makes a big difference.

3. Hands-On Experience

Students want to apply what they’ve learned in their VET courses to real-world scenarios. Practical, hands-on tasks that challenge their skills and contribute to the organisation’s projects are highly valued. This kind of engagement helps them build confidence and competence in their chosen field.

4. Constructive Feedback

Students appreciate regular check-ins and feedback sessions where they can discuss their performance, ask questions, and receive guidance on how to improve. This ongoing communication helps them understand their strengths and areas for development.

5. Recognition and Opportunities

Recognition for their efforts, no matter how small, motivates students to perform better. Opportunities to learn new skills, participate in different projects, and advance to more challenging tasks can make the placement even more rewarding. Students want to feel that their time and efforts are contributing meaningfully to the organisation’s success.

By addressing these needs, host employers can create a positive and enriching experience for students, setting them up for future success in their careers. A well-structured work placement not only benefits the students but also helps organisations build a pipeline of skilled and motivated young workers for the future.

Written by students Sam and Jack from St John Bosco College.