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Work experience is any experience that a person gains while working in a specific field or occupation, but the expression is widely used to mean a type of volunteer work that is commonly intended for young people — often students — to get a feel for professional working environments. The American equivalent term is internship.
Though the placements are usually unpaid, travel and food expenses are sometimes covered, and at the end of the appointment, a character reference is usually provided. Trainees usually have the opportunity to network and make contacts among the working personnel, and put themselves forward for forthcoming opportunities for paid work.
Many employers in the more sought after professions (e.g. TV, politics, journalism) demand that every new entrant undergo a period of unpaid "work experience" before being able to get paid work.