At Bubble we’re always banging on about how important work experience is because it gives you some great commercial hands-on experience and it gives you the chance to get an insight into what your industry is all about.

Now, we’ve blogged before about how you can get work experience in the digital sector – but we’ve never actually blogged before about how you can actually approach companies regarding possible work experience placements at their business… so today I thought I’d change that.

You see, approaching companies for work experience can be tricky… particularly if you’re not overly confident and you don’t really have many contacts within your chosen industry. So what do you do?

1. Research:

OK, so I thought I’d start with an obvious one – research. Before you approach any company, it’s worth doing your research. Look into how large the company is, which departments they have within their business, their location – and if they have any content on work experience placements or internships on their website. It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the company’s social media presence – and do a bit of stalking on LinkedIn to see who the key employees are within the business. You can then use all this info in step two:

first job2. Create A Contact Plan:

Just like a full-time job application, the best applications for work experience are innovative and super-relevant. Look at all the information you’ve gathered about the company – and ask yourself which method you think they’d prefer you contacting them on. Are they heavily into social media? Do they have a contact form on their website? Is their phone number listed?

Most companies will probably have at least three different ways you can contact them – so I’d urge you to pick two and create a two-step plan – for instance, you could choose to reach out to them first via social media, and then choose to follow up with an email. Remember to keep your emails/tweets polite and professional – and be sure to personalise them eg. with the social media manager’s name – if you’ve already got that info.

3. Create An Application:

OK, so you’re only enquiring about work experience – but you still need to create some kind of application which you can send over to act as a kind of back-up for your enquiry. In addition to considering what the company could do for you if they gave you a placement, think about what you could bring to them. Do you have great existing knowledge of one of their key clients? Are you skilled in one of the key areas of their business eg. graphic design?

Be sure to include these points in your cover letter – and if you feel it would help, send over examples of your work with your enquiry – remember, you don’t want to give them a reason to say no!

4. Take A Chance:

Just like with job applications, sometimes it’s worth taking a bit of a chance when it comes to contacting companies about work experience – because it really is all about standing out from the crowd. Put yourself in the company’s position, and think about what you’d like to see from someone applying for work experience. Would it be a CV which was mocked to mimic the design of your site? Or a cover letter made up of 140 character tweets? It’s all about thinking outside the box… and this is the point at which you really can be the most creative – as long as it’s relevant to the industry that is! For example, a creative application might not go down too well in the financial industry!

5. Chase Up:

If you don’t hear back from the company you’ve contacted, it’s important to chase up. It could be that they never received your enquiry or they did and forgot to apply (remember, some companies are extremely busy!) – after a few weeks, if you’ve not heard back, feel free to send another email or give them a call. At this point, I’d say it’s best not to mention anything publicly on Twitter because the company could see it as your attempt into shaming them into a response – but by all means, if you can keep it private with a DM, go for it.

Chasing up should show the company that you’re serious and committed to a placement at their company – and it should help to demonstrate that you didn’t just contact them for the sake of it!

6. Get Feedback:

Just like a job application, it’s important to try and get some feedback if you do get the dreaded ‘no’. Try and find out why they said no in this instance – and if there’s anything you could have done differently. Also be sure to ask if there’s anything you could do to make them reconsider you in the future – eg. if there’s anything you need to add to your CV. Even if you don’t get this particular company to change their mind, the feedback they give should help with future enquiries.