Enjoying this blog post?

Join the Grand newsletter for more content like this!

Here’s why I wish I did work experience when I was in high school

Work experience for high school students isn’t what it used to be. 

If you’re a teenager right now you are in luck. At the touch of a button you can access industry mentors, gain exposure to different industries and find relevant work experience. The trick is just knowing where to look 👀

We asked one of our amazing mentors and a Grandshake team member to share some wisdom from their career journey and why they wish they had the opportunity to do work experience while in high school and how it might have shaped their career 👩 💻

“It would have really changed my life” 

We only know the jobs we see, and many young people get limited exposure to the huge range of professional careers that are available, especially if they live in a rural area or are 'first in family' to go to uni,” says University of Sydney Associate Professor and Grandshake mentor Alana Mann.

“If I could have experienced other workplaces it would have really changed my life.”

Alana says she grew up in a small town where there were not a lot of options for work placements or the opportunity to explore different careers.

“I did my work experience at a local pharmacy, and it just made me realise I didn't want to clean shelves all my life,” she told us. 

Alana loved English, Geography and History at school and decided to become a high school teacher 🍎 She wanted to travel and knew she could teach overseas 🌎

While in the UK she made an accidental jump into Publishing and many years later has come full circle, back to her roots teaching Media at the University of Sydney.  

“I still love teaching but it is just one of many things I get to do… now my research takes me all around the world and I get to write books as well as read them,” she says.

If you think back to when humans believed the world was flat, it was just because we hadn’t sailed far enough to make the unknown familiar ⛵

The same can happen with careers. If you’re only exposed to certain industries and career options, how can you know what else is out there and what careers you could be passionate about? 

 “There are new roles being created daily as technology, and society, evolves in response to challenges like Covid and climate change,” says Alana. 
“If you can get a taste of a wide variety of careers, go for it!”

“I think it would have saved me a lot of time”

“If I had been able to do work experience in high school I think it would have saved me a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” says Grandshake’s Product Manager Madeleine Thompson.

While Maddy says she’s super grateful for all the experience she’s gained in her early career in film and content production, she wishes she had the opportunity to do Virtual Work Experience while still in high school 🏫

“It would have definitely helped me make some tough decisions.”

Before switching careers to become a Product Manager at Grandshake, Maddy went on quite a journey to discover her career passion. She originally studied an undergraduate degree in Entertainment Industries, switching to Film Studies after her first year. 

She’s not alone there either. Almost half of all first-year university students switch courses after the first year. It’s fine to discover what you do and don’t like this way, but because of it people like Maddy are paying off an extra year of student fees. 

After working in film production, videography and content production for a few years Maddy felt it was time for another change 🍃

“By doing and experiencing these Virtual Work Experiences you can figure out what your passions are, what you like and dislike are, and it will help you make decisions on what you want to pursue before you even leave high school,” Maddy says.


So, are you feeling unsure about your future career? Take a look at Grandshake’s FREE Virtual Work Experiences and start discovering what you like and don’t like, uncover your secret passions along the way and get to know industries you have no exposure to.

Read more

All Articles

Grandshake and Junior Engineers partner to Upskill future digital leaders

Grandshake and Junior Engineers, a one-stop shop for the industry to support young talent development from school to employment.


Advice for school leavers: as the world finds a new normal, here's what to do in 2022

Use your 2022 to find your feet, experience new things, uncover your passion and set goals for the future


10 tips to find a job or career you actually like after high school

It takes time, energy and effort to find the career for you. Here are tips on how to find a job you love.

Career guidance