Here are some top tips to help you research your ideal work placements and training opportunities:
Prepare and plan
Before you research or apply, think about what experiences you want and what your needs are. Your needs might cover things like: Does it need to be local? How far are you prepared to travel? Would you prefer payment as well as expenses covered? (By the way, a placement should at least cover your expenses or they're breaking the law!)
Think about what sort of work placements or training opportunities will benefit you and your future career. What's your ideal industry or job? Is there a company you've admired for a while? Who makes you excited, who could you imagine working for in ten years time if you dream big? What specific skills, experience or contacts would you love to gain? Dream big to plan small.
Follow and connect
Once you have your list, find companies in your desired industry online and connect to them. Find local businesses, charities, community organisations, small, medium and large companies. Make sure you follow your ideal companies as well as local, smaller companies you may not have considered.
Sign up to their newsletters, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check the news section of their sites for any work placements or training opportunities. Get connected to be the first to hear about opportunities. Be sure you're happy for them to see anything you've posted on your own social media sites.
Find industry Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups to join, such as for film runners or jewellery-makers. Search groups for a mention of work placements or training opportunities. If there are no recent mentions of opportunities, try posting a question to the group and see if anyone has any news or knowledge of any. Many opportunities are promoted via networks rather than advertised publicly, so these niche groups are a great place to ask.
Ask on Twitter. Use industry-related hashtags to gain visibility and put a call out to see if anyone can help you find opportunities or companies to contact. You'll be surprised at how happy people are to help.
Send speculative enquiries
Companies may not always advertise their work placements or training opportunities publicly. Sometimes it's worthwhile sending a speculative email with your CV and a passionate letter about why you'd like to work for them. Make sure you find a specific person to contact. If you're unsure, phone their mainline and ask who the best contact is.
In your email, introduce yourself, explain what experience you're looking for and showcase your skills, experiences and passions. For more advice on writing a speculative email check out this article: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/speculative-ap....
Take advantage of your own networks
Contact your friends, family, colleagues, university tutors and previous employers to ask if there's anything they can offer you. If they don't have an immediate opportunity, they may be able to give you the contact details for someone who does. You never know who is in your extended network.
Use free careers advice services
Universities and colleges will often have a careers service where they have access to a huge database of companies and alumni. Many libraries and Citizens Advice Bureaus will have a careers advice centre or access to a database that you can search. They're free, so take advantage of them!
Visit work placement and training opportunity fairs
Visit local careers and work experience fairs. Many universities host career days where you can meet local employers and there are often people from arts-related industries. It's a great chance to make new contacts, ask questions and get to know what businesses are out there. Google for local employment fairs or check college and university websites for news. Libraries are often a great source of knowledge for these kinds of events.
Sign up to industry news sites
There are plenty of websites that advertise work experience and training opportunities. Here's a list of online resources to help you. Why not sign up to a few and create a profile to received targeted emails about events and opportunities?
- Arts Jobs: http://www.artsjobs.org.uk/
- Creative Choices: https://ccskills.org.uk/careers
- Creative Society: http://www.thecreativesociety.co.uk/
- Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk
- Hive: https://app.hiive.co.uk/opportunities/
- Make happy: http://www.makehappy.co.uk/
There is an endless list of sites like this to help you so it's worth doing your own research for specific industry related sites.
So, there you have it. My advice is: be proactive, be brave and be professional. Whether you're connecting via Twitter or email, make sure you conduct yourself how you'd like to be seen in the workplace. And never be too afraid to ask!
Good luck finding your ideal work placement or training opportunity. Let me know if you find anything good in the comments below.