Read about Brooklyn's week at Elenberg Fraser in The Age

Boundless placed Year 10 student Brooklyn with global architecture firm Elenberg Fraser

"It was an experience that I never thought I would have", says Brooklyn. 

"I learnt how to use different computer programs, and learnt the basics of architecture. It was also good because I got to go around the work place and look at all the projects being worked on".

"I felt included in the workplace, and I had so much fun!". 

Read more about Brooklyn in the following story in The Age, published on 8 August 2015. You can read the original article at this link.

 

Students without connections struggle to find work experience

August 8, 2015

Henrietta Cook, Education Reporter at The Age

The rejections and unanswered emails seemed endless.

Brooklyn Anderson, 16, spent every night for five months emailing law and architecture firms in the hope of securing work experience.

No one in the Mill Park Secondary College student's family worked in law or architecture, or knew people in these fields, so finding a way in was tricky.

"It was pretty upsetting," the year 10 student said.

"I was told they were full, they didn't offer work experience and sometimes I got no response."

Work experience is often the first thing listed on a CV, and can set students up for a rewarding career.

But if your family lacks connections, securing meaningful work experience can be impossible.

A handful of programs are working with students from disadvantaged schools to help them line up work experience.

Boundless Foundation , a not-for-profit started by a Teach for Australia alumna and a lawyer, organised a week-long placement for Brooklyn at architecture firm Elenberg Frase.

"It was the first time I had been in an office environment, " Brooklyn said. "It was great to see what architects did."

Mill Park Secondary College teacher Sonia Loudon established the program with Cameron Winnett last year after becoming "sick and tired" of bright students doing work experience at fast food chains and supermarkets because "they couldn't find anything else".

Although many businesses offered work experience, it was often available only to students known to colleagues. 

The program, which works with a handful of state schools in disadvantaged areas, has placed 40 students this year.

"We saw an opportunity to use our connections to vouch for these really great students in workplaces they wouldn't otherwise have access to," Ms Loudon said.

She said research by consulting firm Urbis showed that only about 46 per cent of students can access work experience during high school.

Ms Loudon said work experience gave students confidence, opportunities and clarity in what their future career might hold.

Youth Connect helps young people at risk of disengaging, those with disabilities and those from Koori backgrounds secure placements, work experience and school-based apprenticeships.

Chief executive Danny Schwartz said schools often lacked the time and resources to foster relationships with businesses.

Taking on work experience students was good for business, Mr Schwartz said.

"Lots of young people will go to work on for that employer because the employer can see they are keen."

Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said work in some industries might not immediately lend itself to a work experience opportunity, and many small businesses were time and resource poor. But he encouraged all businesses to look at providing work experience.

"Secondary school students undertake many successful and highly educational placements with Victorian employers every year. These placements improve students' work readiness and assist them to make informed career choices."

Tips for securing work experience:

  • speak to you school's career counsellor
  • prepare a CV 
  • Be persistent. Phone, then email, then follow-up.  Remain polite.
  • Share information about yourself that explains why you're interested. This could include your school subjects, hobbies, part-time job and career aspirations. 
  • Find a way in. Does a friend, family member or neighbour work in a profession you are interested in? Ask if they can help set up work experience.