The Importance of Work Experience: A Small Business View

The Importance of Work Experience: A Small Business View

Fifteen years have passed since I did my work experience and I remember it being a big deal at school. Everyone wanted to get the perfect placement, and everyone also seemed to know what they wanted to do for a job after they left school making it an easier task to look for a work experience placement.

I most definitely didn’t know what I wanted to do so found it even more difficult to choose my placements. I had two choices to make, my first being Stanley Security Solutions which at the time my dad was operations manager of the Exeter branch. He had worked there ever since I was little and when it was still known as Blick Communications. Maybe it was a premonition that one day he would have his own business and I would be working with him again.

My second placement was a week spent with Exeter City FC. Considering I had been a fan for most of my life and it was something I was passionate about I figured it would be an environment I would enjoy working in.

Looking back, I realise the decision wasn’t as critical for my future as I had thought at the time. It’s simply a brilliant opportunity to try out working life and being an adult for a couple of weeks and if you already know what field you’d like to go into after education you can gain experience working in that environment. If you have no idea what you want to do as in my case, choose a company you find interesting or that uses your favourite school subject well. The main piece of advice I would give is to not waste these weeks, ask lots of questions and gain as much experience as you can – even if that is to realise you don’t want to do the job you thought you did.

At MSL & DASL we have hosted many students over the past few years from local schools knowing the importance these weeks hold for students as well as the benefit it can have on small businesses like ours.

One of our current apprentices Amy Herbert first came to us in 2017, she was already interested in electronics from school and wanted to spend her work experience with us learning if her interest could translate into a career.

Fast forward two years and she is now in her second year of her apprenticeship with us spending one day a week at Exeter college.

With the success of Amy’s placement, we were pleased to have two more students join us this year; Ardal from Colyton Grammar and Jake from Isca. Both students already had a keen interest in electronics and were eager to learn. On gaining feedback from the students after their placements they both said they enjoyed their weeks, found it fun and educational and enjoyed being around the team.

As a small business we enjoyed having them here as it’s a chance to train and explain our processes allowing us to dissect how we do things ourselves. We also find younger minds are more likely to ask questions, testing the team on things they are doing and why they are doing them that way.

If you don’t already offer work experience placements, we would really encourage you to consider it – You may just find it as rewarding as we have.


See below for a little interview we did with Amy where she shares her thoughts on her work experience journey with MSL & DASL.


How do you think your work experience influenced your decision to continue working at MSL & DASL?

I applied for work experience at MSL & DASL because I had a small interest in electronics and thought it would be an interesting field of work to try. During the week it showed me that not only is DASL a very welcoming and friendly place to work but I also got to experience a lot of the things that could be made from the new skills I had learnt.


Why do you think work experience is important for people approaching their final years of school?

It’s an opportunity to be in a different environment and meet new people as well as learn new skills. You get to try out a potential career path to see if you find it enjoyable and speak to different companies that could turn into your future employer.   


When you look back at your work experience did you think you would end up being employed at MSL & DASL and on an apprenticeship?

Before my work experience week even began I came in to do a quick tour of the facilities and meet everyone and I knew straight away it was the sort of environment I would like to work in – I could see myself working well with the team and growing as a person. After the week had finished, I found I enjoyed all the work I was given as well as all the people I was working with. I hoped I made a good impression so that it could maybe lead on to a potential apprenticeship.


What do you like about being an apprentice?

Being an apprentice is very hard because every job given to you is something new and unknown however that is also the best bit as you are constantly learning new skills and being able to practice and perfect them. An apprenticeship is not only learning in the workplace but also a whole new experience at college with academic training as well as practical skills given. I have found doing an apprenticeship has given me the best of both worlds as I get to go straight into a working environment working closely with a small team but also still be in education for part of the week around lots of different people. 


What advice would you give to anyone who is approaching their work experience placements?

I think it is important to choose a suitable company based on something you are interested in. When going in for the first time make sure to have an open mind because it can be scary at first. Also, be honest with yourself. If the work did not seem interesting or enjoyable then maybe, it’s not the career path for you to take. You want to make sure you love the environment you are going into every day and can thrive from it.

Thanks to Amy for sharing her thoughts on her work experience and also to all the students that have spent time with us over the past few years 



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