Three activities: Reflection after work experience

Help your students reflect on what they've learned during their work experience, with the activities below. Suitable for use with Key Stage 3 or 4 students.
These activities can be used as standalone sessions, or as a selection of shorter activities during form time or PSHE lessons. 

1. Self-reflection (15 – 25 minutes)

Activity: If your students completed a diary during their placement, now is the time to revisit it. If they didn’t complete one, refresh their memories by asking them to fill out a  work experience diary (23.77 KB). (Five minutes)

Ask them to think about what they've learned. It could be the importance of teamwork and organisation skills. They may have learned something as simple as performing tasks such as answering the telephone in a professional manner. These are all useful skills which are important in the workplace. If they took pictures of their work experience, hey may like to look back on these too. (Five – 10 minutes)

You may need to guide them through this process by asking them leading questions, such as:

  • What have you learned?
  • Did you find anything difficult?
  • Has it made you think about what you would or wouldn't like to do in the future?
  • What did you enjoy the most?
  • What did you like the least?

Share one of your own experiences with them, as an example of how they can answer those questions.

Keisha Walker, Head of Careers and Employability at The Phoenix Academy in London believes:

It's a good idea for the teacher to give the students an example of their own work experience placement and the positive and negative aspects.

Afterwards, ask students to write a short summary with three key points they've learned from their work experience placement. (Five – 10 minutes)

2. Partnering (25 – 30 minutes)

An exercise to help students and their peers think about what they've learned from their different work experience placements.

Activity: Ask students to write down a challenge they overcame during their work experience. It could be based on how different they found work life from school or a problem-solving issue – such as how to work the photocopier, or take notes in a meeting. (Five minutes)

Next, ask students to pair up and share their experiences with one another. Encourage them to discuss how they could've approached this situation differently, and what they found surprising or interesting about work experience. (Five – 10 minutes)

Finally, ask each pair to share a learning with the class. (10 – 15 minutes)

3. Writing a thank you letter (30 minutes)

Activity: A great way of  strengthening pupils writing skills and continuing to foster good relationships with employers for future work experience opportunities is to ask your students to write them ‘thank you’ letters. 

Beware, some students may complain they didn’t learn much from their work experience placement, except for how to work the photocopier. 

It's an important exercise to help students reflect on what they've learned and will teach them how to compose a formal letter. You can even cover this as a cross-curriculum project with the English department at your school.

Ask students to:

  • use their work experience diary to help shape their letter, by looking back over what they've learned during their placement
  • put what they've learned into bullet points. This should help frame the letter
  • think about the ‘transferrable’ skills they have learned or seen in practice in the workplace. For example, learning the importance of communication in meetings