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Work Experience Education (WEE)

Development of "non-cognitive" skills (soft skills) play an important part in college and career success. Non-cognitive factors featured in WEE include motivation, time management, perseverance, and self-regulation.

Students will develop ready-to-work attitudes/interview skills; financial literacy; knowledge of workplace safety and rights as workers; business operations; how to read an earnings statement and know what payroll deductions to expect; career decision making; making a career goal plan and much more.

The WEE is a course of study which may be established by the governing board of any school district or charter school, or other specified local educational agency (LEA) in accordance with the provisions of the California Education Code Section 51760 and the California Code of Regulations (CCR) , Title 5, Section 10070-75. Each LEA that elects to conduct a WEE program must submit a Secondary District plan for WEE to the California Department of Education for approval.

The operational plan of the WEE program combines an on-the-job component with related classroom instruction designed to maximize the value of on-the-job experiences. Students' success in WEE programs depends on the quality of classroom instruction, effective collaboration between employers and the WEE coordinators, and the degree of involvement by the students and their parents or legal guardians.

The WEE program is an integrated educational process that: (1) helps students to choose a career path based on their interests and aptitudes; (2) prepares them for college and career success; and (3) affords students the opportunity to learn to work with others in ways that are successful and rewarding. The WEE program connects inputs from teachers, counselors, students, parents, and employers to achieve the following purposes:

Program Types

The WEE includes both paid and non-paid experiences. The LEA may offer one or more of the following types of WEE programs authorized by the CCR, Title 5, Section 10071:

Exploratory Work Experience Education (EWEE)

The objective of EWEE is to provide career guidance to students and ascertain their interests and aptitudes for specific careers through opportunities to observe and sample a variety of conditions of work. The EWEE includes a combination of job observations and related classroom instruction in WEE. The student may be required to perform non-paid work activities while exploring the occupation on a limited, periodic, and sampling basis. The length of exploratory assignment may vary, depending on the aptitude of the student, the occupation being explored, the facilities of the work station, and the job classification. Students may not participate in EWEE programs if pay is received for similar work at the same work station or a similar job during hours when not assigned to the EWEE program. (The student cannot replace a paid employee.) The LEA must provide Workers' Compensation Insurance for the student. Students enrolled in EWEE may be as young as 12 years of age. Students participating in EWEE do not need a work permit.

General Work Experience Education (GWEE)

The purpose of GWEE is to provide students with opportunities for applying the basic skills of reading, writing, and computation through a combination of supervised employment in any occupational field and related classroom instruction. Students participating in GWEE typically require a work permit. (Visit Work Permits for Students to learn more about work permits.)

Career Technical Work Experience Education (CTWEE)

The intent of CTWEE is to reinforce and extend vocational learning opportunities for students through a combination of related classroom instruction and supervised paid employment. The CTWEE is to develop and refine occupational competencies necessary to acquire paid employment to adapt to the employment environment, and to advance in an occupation. Students enrolled in CTWEE must have a worksite placement or employment that is related to a previous or concurrently enrolled Career Technical Education course of study.

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Work experience in school leads to salary uplift in the workplace.

Work experience is linked to a salary uplift among employees (Pic: Getty Creative)

Students who complete work experience placements while at school get higher salaries once they enter the workforce, according to new research.

Work placements are also linked to a lower chance of being unemployed or unable to get on a training program after leaving school.

Now campaigners in the U.K. are calling for work experience to be made mandatory so all students can benefit, regardless of their background.

Students who complete a work experience placement while at school benefit from an uplift of around 3.4% on their annual salary, according to research commissioned by U.K. social mobility charity Speakers for Schools .

This equates to an additional £1,088 ($1,182) a year, with two placements seeing a 6.8% uplift, or around £2,200 ($2,390) a year.

Work experience also reduced the chances that young people would be unemployed and not in a training program when they left school from 11% to 7%.

“Work experience is a fundamental right for students of all backgrounds, not just those attending prestigious schools or lucky enough to have parental connections,” said Andrew Law, chair of the board of trustees at Speakers for Schools.

“Young people should be able to learn about multiple types of jobs across different sectors before leaving school.

“It is hugely important for building aspiration, essential skills and helping determine future careers, but also for employers who regularly cite skills and knowledge gaps in entry-level candidates.”

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Work experience also has an impact on soft skills, with a third of young people saying it improved their communication and problem-solving skills.

And 31% of young people who did work experience while at school said it improved their confidence and self-belief.

Researchers took into account gender, geography, type of school and whether students were eligible for free school meals, from a sample of 700 young people aged 18-30 around the U.K., to try to eliminate the influence of socio-economic factors.

The increasing use of work experience and internships by employers as part of their recruitment process has been seen as a barrier to young people from underprivileged backgrounds, who may not have the time or resources to take on an unpaid or low-paid placement.

There are also concerns that students at state-funded schools do not have the same range of work experience opportunities as their peers at private, fee-paying schools.

Now, Speakers for Schools is calling for all students to be given the chance to take part in meaningful work experience, and for schools to be funded to enable them to achieve that.

Existing guidance in the U.K., known as the Gatsby Benchmarks, are that by the age of 16 students should have at least one experience of a workplace, in addition to any part-time job they have, with a second by the age of 18.

But these can include work visits and work shadowing, as well as meaningful work experience.

Speakers for Schools is calling for work experience to be mandatory, to ensure “all state-educated young people have the same employment opportunities as their privately educated peers, which could prove hugely important for social mobility,” according to Andrew Law.

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School work experience

Get hands-on experience and kick-start your career with school work experience programmes.

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Employers are very keen on work experience – or rather, they’re keen on what it gives you: the confidence and practical skills you need to succeed in the workplace. Whether or not you’re planning to go to university, getting good work experience while you are at school will stand you in good stead when it comes to getting hired.

If you want to apply to an apprenticeship, your work experience will make you a much stronger candidate; if you plan to get a degree, you can draw on it when applying for internships and other placements. It will also give you a better feel for what you do and don’t enjoy and the career choices you want to make.

You have probably done work experience arranged through your school, possibly more than once. However, what employers mean by the term can be broader than you might think. All sorts of activities can help to develop the qualities you need at work.

Here are some examples of the range of ways you can gain work experience:

Using your work experience to get you a job

It’s important to understand how employers see work experience, as otherwise you can miss out on telling them about things you’ve done that would impress them and help you to land a job or a place on an apprenticeship. You can use your work experience to present yourself as a strong candidate by giving examples of when you've used the skills employers look for, whether that's communication, teamwork or problem solving, to name just three of the top skills that employers want.

Use your initiative to boost your work experience

You can contact reputable employers directly to see if you can arrange a few days’ work experience for yourself. This is known as a speculative application.

Do you have an idea what you would like to do in the long term? If you are considering one or two particular careers, whether it’s journalism, engineering or medicine, this will help you to narrow down your search and decide where to apply.

Talk to family members, friends and contacts, look at your local newspaper and do an internet search for suitable employers in your local area.

Once you know where you want to apply, you need to get in touch to find out whether the employer you are interested in offers this kind of opportunity and how to apply. Make contact by phone or email to say that you are interested in coming in for a few days’ work experience and to ask if there’s any preferred way of applying.

Some organisations have application forms for work experience applicants; if this is not the case, ask if you could send in a CV and covering letter. Find out who to send it to and check how to spell the person’s name and what title you should use (Mr, Mrs or Ms, or some other form of address such as Dr, for example).

You should always send your CV with a short covering letter (no more than one side of A4) stating briefly why you would like to do work experience with this particular organisation and suggesting dates when you are available. You can also highlight any relevant skills or experience or go into detail about something mentioned briefly on your CV that would be likely to be of interest to the employer.

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How do you choose the apprenticeship for you?

Not sure where to begin with choosing an apprenticeship? Our checklist of questions will help you research employers and decide where to apply.

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Top tips for apprenticeships: insights from school leavers

Current and recent apprentices share their best advice for choosing an employer, attending interviews, making a great first impression in the workplace and more.

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What are apprenticeships and school leaver programmes?

How do apprenticeships work and what are the different levels of apprenticeships you can do? Find out what you can expect from an apprenticeship.

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Ways to get work experience

There is a problem.

Look at the different ways to try out a career and see whether it's right for you. 

Opportunities for school and college students

From year 8, you should have the chance to take part in workplace experiences.

Speak to your school or college careers leader about workplace experience. 

If you're at college, your work placement team may also be able to help.

Courses that offer work experience

All T Levels and traineeships will include work experience. 

You may be able to do work experience as part of a vocational technical qualification (VTQ) and some degree courses. 

Work experience might be one day a week over a few months or full time for a few weeks. You may have a placement officer or tutor who can help you find work experience during your course.

Work shadowing

Work shadowing provides a chance to watch someone doing a job for a day or a few days. You could do this to find out about a job role. 

If you're in a job, you could use it to explore opportunities for personal development or a promotion. It gives you an idea of what a job involves, rather than hands-on experience.


Internships are paid periods of work experience lasting around 2 to 3 months in the summer. They're usually aimed at undergraduates and recent graduates. There are some opportunities for school leavers. 

You can get information from your university careers service. There may be internship schemes dedicated to students at your university.

Placement year

A placement year is a paid year in the workplace as part of a higher education course. You apply for these in the same way as graduate jobs. University careers services can help you to find opportunities relevant to your course.

Insight events

Insight events are usually organised by companies or careers organisations. You spend a day or a few days finding out about a specific sector such as:

Gap year and year abroad experience

Companies and charities may offer  gap year and work abroad experiences. You could also set this up for yourself.

Virtual work experience

Companies are starting to develop 'virtual' placements. You work remotely using digital technology, without having to go into the workplace.

You can also learn to deal with situations in the workplace without having to go out on a placement.  Accenture's Skills to Succeed Academy  and  Barclays Lifeskills can help you to develop these skills.

FutureLearn has a virtual work experience course for exploring the work of a vet. 

Search online for other online work experience, virtual internships and insight into work opportunities.

More ways to get work experience

You can also gain work experience if you:

Related content

How work experience can help you

How to find a virtual internship

How to write a CV

How to write a cover letter

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How to Gain Work Experience as a Student

school in work experience

There are many opportunties to gain experience on and off-campus that will help you test your career preference and build skills that employers seek.

Types of Experience

Employers value many different types of experiences when considering you for a job:

How Employers Find Candidates

Connecting to the right candidate happens in a variety of ways:

Recruiting and Networking Events

Direct and Online Outreach

Hidden Job Opportunities

Some employers only post opportunties on their websites and prefer that you do research to find them. Others don’t post the opportunities at all. You can find these “hidden” jobs by networking.

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How To Figure Out If Your Experience Counts As Work Experience (+ Examples)

Not all experience is created equal — but what counts as work experience and what doesn’t? This detailed guide will answer that question and more.

a year ago   •   10 min read

Entry level position … requires 3 years of experience.

If you’ve ever noticed a similar phrase on a job ad and seen red, you aren’t alone. Most jobs — even some entry-level positions — ask for at least some experience in a similar role. The problem is, it’s increasingly hard to tell what counts as ‘experience’ and what doesn’t. Is an internship work experience? Volunteering? Hobbies? The answer is, yes and no — here’s exactly what does count, what doesn’t, and how to tell the difference.

What counts as work experience (and what doesn’t)

Here’s a short list of things that can — but don’t necessarily — belong on your resume:

So, how do you work out what counts as work experience and whether to list it on your resume? Follow this simple rule of thumb: If it’s the most relevant experience you have, include it on your resume. If you have enough other experience to fill up a one-page resume, leave it off.

If you’re looking for a longer answer, let’s go into a little more detail about how to include each of these on your resume (and when to leave them off). You can also skip ahead to the most relevant section — using the table of contents on the right if you're on your desktop, or at the top if you're on your mobile!

Does volunteering count as work experience?

Volunteering is a pretty safe bet to include on your resume. Even though it’s not paid experience, most volunteer roles usually have similar requirements to traditional workplaces — things like requiring volunteers to be committed, on time, and perform their set tasks — which makes it one of the best things to include on your resume if you don’t have a lot of paid work experience.

Here's an example:

List volunteer work on your resume in the same way as traditional work experience

Do internships count as work experience?

Not exactly — most companies won’t count internships toward the number of years’ required experience, but this can depend on the company. Regardless, internships are still a great way to demonstrate accomplishments in a professional setting, especially if they’re in the same industry as the jobs you’re applying for.

Internships may not count as work experience, but they’re still a great way to show off your accomplishments if you’re just starting out

Does research count as work experience?

Post-graduate research definitely counts as work experience. If you held a graduate research assistant position, you can list that in your regular work experience section , including the employer, dates, and relevant accomplishments.

List graduate research in the work experience section of your resume

Undergraduate research doesn’t officially count as work experience, but you can still list in on your resume. Include your involvement in research projects in a projects, education, or publications section, depending on how you choose to format your resume.

Or here's an example of including a university project on your resume:

List your involvement in undergraduate university projects in a separate section of your resume

Does college count as work experience?

No. While the education section is an important part of your resume — especially if you’re still in school or have only recently graduated — it’s not the same thing as work experience. Regardless of how relevant it is, it would look naïve and out of touch to include things like coursework as part of your work experience. List these in your education section instead — if this is your most relevant experience, it can still go at the top of your resume.

If you’re a current student or recent graduate, list relevant coursework in the education section at the top of your resume

Do hobbies and activities count as work experience?

Generally, no — which doesn’t mean you can never list them on your resume. Private hobbies aren’t particularly relevant to most jobs, with some exceptions (for example, if you want to use your involvement in team sports to highlight your teamwork skills). More organized activities, like involvement in extracurricular clubs and organizations, are a better way to showcase accomplishments.

Use clubs and activities to highlight transferable skills

Do projects count as work experience?

Work experience, not necessarily. A valuable addition to your resume, yes. Personal or educational projects can be a great way of demonstrating how you’ve used your hard skills in action, which is far more persuasive than simply sticking them on a skills list at the end of your resume. If you can, link directly to a GitHub or portfolio so potential employers can judge your work for themselves.

When listing projects on your resume, list 1-2 key skills or accomplishments and include a link to your portfolio

Does babysitting count as work experience?

Yes! Especially if you’re still in school, part-time gigs like babysitting, retail, or food service are a great way to show that you have a good work ethic and some kind of experience.

Use babysitting or other part-time jobs to demonstrate work ethic and transferable skills

Does fast food count as sales experience?

Yes, if you can demonstrate relevant accomplishments. Again, use common sense when talking about part-time jobs — if a job posting calls for 5+ years’ experience as an account manager and you spent a summer as an assistant manager at a restaurant, you’ll look a bit out of touch if you try to try to claim it’s the same thing.

But if the ad simply asks for “sales experience,” you can absolutely list appropriate accomplishments from a part-time job.

school in work experience

What to do if you don’t have enough experience

The age-old conundrum: How do you get more experience if you need experience just to get a job? Here’s how to job search for an entry-level role without any experience:

Get more experience

It might sound glib, but the best thing to do if you don’t have any experience is to get some. Instead of waiting around for someone to hire you, why not take advantage of the gig economy and do it yourself? Create a freelance profile on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or Reddit and advertise your services directly. It might not exactly be your dream job, but it’ll get your foot in the door and allow you to list some actual work experience.

Contact recent startups

Recently funded startups are more likely to take a chance on less experienced hires, since they’re an unknown quantity themselves. They often don’t have strict hiring processes in place, which makes it easier to get your foot in the door. You can then use that experience as a springboard to bigger and better opportunities — or you might decide you enjoy helping to build something from the ground up.

It’s a cliché for a reason: Who you know really is more important than what you know. Reach out to people in your chosen industry on LinkedIn to ask for an informational interview , ask people you know if they have any job leads or if they can connect you with people who might, use your college’s alumni network, and reach out directly to second or even third-degree connections for advice.

Focus your search on graduate schemes

Plenty of employers offer dedicated graduate schemes to target promising entry-level candidates. If you’re in an industry where graduate schemes are common (think fields like finance, management, law, marketing, and even retail), it’s worth searching for these in addition to applying directly for jobs.

An entry-level resume template

Here’s a sample entry-level resume template that looks impressive — without including any paid work experience:

Example of an entry-level resume listing volunteer work and activities to make up for a lack of paid experience

For more entry-level resume examples, check out our professional ATS resume templates .

Want your resume to look like this? Here’s how:

List accomplishments in bullet points

No matter what you choose to include on your resume, always list at least 1-3 relevant accomplishments in bullet point format. You should start each bullet point with an action verb ( led , organized, revamped, etc.), clearly state what you did, and include the result or some sort of measurable success.

Stick to relevant experience

If an experience a) isn’t directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, and b) doesn’t showcase any relevant skills or accomplishments, it doesn’t belong on your resume. The same rule applies if you already have enough other experience — entry-level resumes in particular shouldn’t be more than one page long, so don’t feel the need to include every single thing on your resume just to pad it out.

Highlight transferable skills

You don’t need experience to highlight transferable skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Soft skills like teamwork, communication, time management , and attention to detail are in demand no matter the industry or role, so choose accomplishments that illustrate them.

Find out if your resume shows the right experiences and skill sets

Upload your resume to the tool below to find out if you’ve chosen the right experiences and if you’ve showcased the right skill sets. The tool also scans your resume for mistakes and gives you personalised suggestions for improvement.

List key technical skills

If you have hard skills — things like proficiency with specific software, programming languages, hardware, or certifications — list them directly in a skills or additional information section. To get a feel for what technical skills are required, scan the job description and browse our database of top industry-specific hard skills and keywords .

If you want to find technical skills relevant to the job you’re applying to, use our hard skills and keywords tool below — it’ll give you a list of skills to include in your skills section .

Create appropriate section titles

Listing other types of experience on your resume doesn’t mean hiding the fact that it wasn’t official work experience. Especially if you’re a recent graduate or applying for an entry-level position, hiring managers understand that you may not have a lot of paid work experience.

Instead of trying to be sneaky about it, be upfront about what kind of experience it really was and let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Some appropriate section titles to use on your resume include:

Frequently asked questions

Should i apply for a job if i don’t have the required experience.

Regardless of whether or not your experience is official work experience: Yes.

Obviously, there’s some common sense involved; if a senior or mid-level position is asking for 7-10 years of work experience and you have maybe one, don’t apply. But if it’s an entry-level position asking for 1-3 years, or a job asking for 5 years and you have a solid 3 or 4, go ahead!

Job ads often exaggerate how much experience is really needed or describe their ideal candidate when they aren’t realistically expecting to hire someone who ticks every single box. If you have a reasonable level of experience and meet most of the criteria in the job description, go ahead and apply — you won’t look silly or out of touch, and you might even land the job.

Why do job ads ask for more experience than they need?

You should think of the requirements in a job posting more as more of a wish list: In the best possible situation, this is what the ideal candidate would look like. But hiring managers understand that the perfect candidate isn’t always out there, so any reasonable recruiter is going to expect people to apply who don’t meet every single criteria. Just make sure you can tell the difference between a ‘nice to have’ and a true ‘must have,’ like basic qualifications or key skills.

How do I find out how much experience is really needed?

The job ad is the most obvious way, but it isn’t the only way. Search LinkedIn for people with the same job title and look up the company on Glassdoor. This should give you a good idea of how much experience people in that role realistically need and whether the company routinely hires candidates with fewer qualifications than they’re asking for.

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Experience will help you get hired.

Lots of jobs require experience to get hired. A lot of people think "How can I get experience when I can't get a job?"

There are in fact ways to get experience when you've never had a job. The options below all help you develop your job skills, work know-how, contacts, and confidence. And having any of them on your resume can help you get hired.

“A jobs program helped me get an ID, and they helped me get a Social Security card and start my own bank account. They sent me to a job as an intern at a welding school for 8 weeks. Out of five of us that came, I was the only one who stayed with it. At my job I cut pipe, cut plate, they enrolled me in welding classes. I got four certificates. They helped me get back on my feet.”

See Stefan's story


An internship is a short-term job that may be paid or unpaid, that gives you experience in a real workplace. Internships can be at a company, a store, a school, a government office, or a nonprofit. To find one that's right for you, try the following:

Job shadowing

Job shadowing gives you the experience of following a person in their job for a few hours, a day, or a few days. Ask someone you or your family knows if you can observe them. You can also request a contact through a professional association or school program. Read stories of job shadowing to learn more.

Volunteer work

Volunteering is unpaid work. You can gain skills like writing, child care, teaching, coaching, fundraising, mentoring, sales, phone answering, organizing materials, construction, arts, and more. Call, email or stop in at a nonprofit or school you’d like to volunteer for, and ask about opportunities. Many provide training.

Work in your neighborhood

Did you realize you develop valuable work skills when you do small jobs for friends, family, or neighbors? You might try mowing lawns, raking leaves, doing other yard work, babysitting, taking care of pets, or helping an elderly person with chores. To get paying jobs, ask neighbors and family friends if they need help. List your services at school, put up signs on area bulletin boards, or post on a neighborhood services website.

School and community activities

Participating in clubs, sports, theater, music, dance, religious organizations, and other community activities can be fun and develop your skills. Include these on your resume. Find activities through school districts, community education, local arts groups, religious organizations, and the public library.

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  1. Work Experience Education (WEE)

    Work Experience Education (WEE) is a work-based learning course of study that offers internships and employment combined with instruction in

  2. Work Experience In School Leads To Salary Uplift In The Workplace

    Students who complete work experience placements while at school get higher salaries once they enter the workforce, according to new

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    School-based enterprise are generally unpaid work experiences. High School Internships: Internships provide structured, on-the-job work activities that.

  4. Work Experience

    WHAT IS WORK EXPERIENCE? · An elective course for juniors and seniors who have a part-time job. · A unique program that is designed to link the school curriculum

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    Formal work experience placement. · School leaver careers fairs and employer events. · Employers' insight days or weeks for school leavers. · Extracurricular

  6. In‐School Work Experience and the Returns to Schooling

    Moreover, every college graduate in my sample acquires some work experience prior to leaving school. In this article, I examine the implications of student

  7. Ways to get work experience

    Opportunities for school and college students · Courses that offer work experience · Work shadowing · Internships · Placement year · Insight events · Gap year and

  8. How to Gain Work Experience as a Student

    Types of Experience · Internships or jobs (on or off-campus) · Research positions · Volunteer work · Active participation in student clubs, residential life

  9. How To Figure Out If Your Experience Counts As Work Experience

    No. While the education section is an important part of your resume — especially if you're still in school or have only recently graduated — it's not the same

  10. Get work experience

    An internship is a short-term job that may be paid or unpaid, that gives you experience in a real workplace. Internships can be at a company, a store, a school