work experience (in BrE)

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, the following replies in the WR threads are all by BrE speakers.

Work experience in BE means working somewhere (usually unpaid) in order to get experience of work. Intern(ship) is an American term.
Source: Talking about work experience

It sounds odd to me, I'm afraid, because here in the UK "work experience" is a scheme whereby pupils at secondary school spend a couple of weeks with a firm or organization to see what it would be like doing that type of job after they leave school.
Source: With an accumulation of work experience

  1. Work experience = a temporary job given to a student as part of their training to provide practical examples of what the work entails.
  2. Work experiences = things that happen at work.
Source: work experiences/ experience


If your American friend, who knows that you are seeking a job and wants to help you, suddenly asked "By the way, what work experience do you have?" while having a chat about something totally different, would you interpret this "work experience" as "internship" (in AmE)? If so, what phrase should the American friend use instead? Professional experience? Business experience? Both would sound too formal, I think.
 
  • analeeh

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    You could say 'what business experience do you have?', but that would mean something more specific - 'business' is not the same as 'work'.

    'Professional experience' would work, as would 'work experience'. I don't think there's any chance of anyone misunderstanding this as referring to the thing we do in secondary school. But I think we're most likely to just say 'what experience do you have?'
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    If your American friend, who knows that you are seeking a job and wants to help you, suddenly asked "By the way, what work experience do you have?" while having a chat about something totally different, would you interpret this "work experience" as "internship" (in AmE)?
    No, not at all. The question is asking about what work you have done. "Work experience" with the meaning in your quoted sentences cannot really be used with "have", and you would not use the present tense unless the person is currently doing work experience.

    "What work experience do you have?" is an ordinary question in English. If you want to ask about the other meaning of "work experience", you would ask "What work experience did you do?"
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks both for the replies.

    "Work experience" with the meaning in your quoted sentences cannot really be used with "have", and you would not use the present tense unless the person is currently doing work experience.
    :thumbsup:

    "What work experience do you have?" is an ordinary question in English.
    OK, so the phrase "work experience" has two meanings in BrE, and which one it means depends on which verb to use and in what context the phrase is used.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    My understanding of this phrase would depend on what I knew about the person - that is, the broader context. If I asked this question of someone who just graduated from a university and is looking for his or her first pemanent job, I would expect the reply to include what we call internships in the U.S. as well as part-time and summer positions. If this is a typical 40-year-old, whom I may know socially but not professionally, I would expect the reply to include only regular, full-time employment.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    If you want to ask about the other meaning of "work experience", you would ask "What work experience did you do?"
    Having read this again, I wonder if pupils at secondary school actually use the verb do and say, for example, "I'm going to do work experience next week". Would "I'm going to have work experience next week" be odd?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Having read this again, I wonder if pupils at secondary school actually use the verb do and say, for example, "I'm going to do work experience next week". Would "I'm going to have work experience next week" be odd?
    "I've got work experience next week", or "I'm going on work experience next week" would be more likely. The first treats it like a school subject ("I've got French after lunch"), while the second treats it like a holiday. With "do", the present continuous tense (for a planned activity in the near future) would make more sense: "I'm doing work experience next week".
    Would "I'm going to have work experience next week" be odd?
    Yes.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I did six weeks work experience (uncountable) with a company selling cars. – name/ proper noun (rarely capitalised)

    I have 10 years work experience (uncountable) in the scrap-metal trade = noun1 + noun2 = experience associated with work in the scrap-metal trade.

    I wrote a book about my work experiences (countable) = a number of individual experiences associated with my work.

    One work experience (countable) that I will never forget was when I was sent to Japan for a month. = a single incident associated with my work.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks both for the replies.

    Yes, I said "work experience" has two meanings in BrE, but it actually has three.

    And yes, the informal "I've got" would be more likely in that secondary school example.

    (Perhaps "I'm having work experience next week" wouldn't be be odd?)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    And yes, the informal "I've got" would be more likely in that secondary school example.

    (Perhaps "I'm having work experience next week" wouldn't be be odd?)
    Unlikely, I would have thought, just like "I'm having French first class after lunch" would be unlikely. "I've got" is often not interchangeable with "I have"/"I'm having".
     
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