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It’s All About Experience

It was announced yesterday that from 2015, GCSEs will move from coursework to exams and will be graded from 8 to 1, rather than A* to G. The pass mark will be pushed higher, and module content will change quite dramatically. The changes have come about after concerns that the current GCSE examinations were not challenging enough for the most able students. However, as the ASCL head teachers’ union has pointed out: “Simply making exams harder does not guarantee higher standards or mean that students will be prepared for a job…” Hear, hear.

There seem to have been so many “latest best ideas” in primary and secondary education. We’ve just recently recorded our summer edition of Law on the Move in which we discussed the Government’s proposal to increase the school leaving age. From the start of the next academic year (2013/14),young people will be required to continue working until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. From summer 2015, this will be raised to their 18th birthday.

Work experience really is valuable, both for the individual and for the employing company. The individual gets an insight into the world of work and a particular career, whereas the organisation gets an opportunity to vet the individual to see if they would make a suitable long-term candidate whilst utilising another pair of hands. We’re often called into local schools to advise pupils on how to make the most of their year 10 work experience and it’s surprising how many plan not to enjoy the opportunity or make the most of it.

Internships are a little different, and tend to be more structured whilst lasting longer than a typical week or two week stint of work experience. However the process of applying for either can be daunting, competitive and quite gruesome. Unsurprisingly it puts a lot of people off.

If you’re currently looking for an internship, then it might be worth bearing in mind the following tips:

  • focus on specific organisations that you’re really interested in and tailor your application to the job;
  • research the company thoroughly and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of their values and culture;
  • dress appropriately for the interview and be wary of body language;
  • be prepared to have a go at everything you’re asked to do;
  • don’t be afraid of rejection; ask for feedback and learn from your mistakes.

Internships or a work experience placement can be an invaluable opportunity. It’s about getting out there and taking on as much practical experience as possible to enhance your CV and future career prospects. Schools will soon be finishing for summer with students having six weeks of leisure time at their fingertips. It makes sense to make the most of it, given that education alone no longer cuts it. Employers want to see practical experience and a hunger to learn outside of school subjects.

We’re currently looking for an intern to work with us for a couple of months this summer. If HR is a profession you’re interested in or you would just like some practical experience of the world of work, then feel free to email me at for more information.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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