I’m flabbergasted.

Schools are still failing to prepare youngsters for life in the world of work. For some it will be work but for others careers, vocations, learning  or life fulfilling roles in arts or in so many other areas.

So why can’t students and school children start their first contacts with businesses in the right way? This failure to imbue essential etiquette is damaging their early prospects. Things don’t change much. In a previous career in the hotel industry, and I admit pre email and digital corresponding, too many job applications or work experience requests were sent on tatty bits of paper and badly written. Today computers don’t display poor handwriting (mine’s bad) but they can still display poor expression or lack of thought in the request being made.

From a S4 school child at a leading girl’s school in Edinburgh, St Thomas of Aquins RC High School, and an HND student studying photography at Stevenson’s College Edinburgh, I received work experience email requests from each of them starting with Hi. Another favourite in the past has been Hi there. My name is not ‘there’.

There were no proper sign offs – even if they had used the schools addresses instead of their own home ones. No contact telephone numbers – eh? No mobile??? Nothing in their short requests about having looked at my web sites (even if they hadn’t), or any about specific photography interests. I made polite suggestions to the school girl when I replied asking about how long she was looking for. Her reply came back still with no contact details and not even a little acknowledgment that I had taken a moment to help her in communicating for a potential placement.

I accept this is only two that have come to me from 100’s making requests to businesses. The text they used will of course have been sent to many other photographers and students will argue that they have to email out to lots of people in the hope of a possible placement. But I’m sad to say it is two students that I am not interested in offering work experience to.

To balance this I have had contact from students with well constructed emails, that appear to be personal to my business and where they have even included a link to their photography. Great! As a sole photographer I can’t offer a full weeks work experience but I have been able to have such students with me for certain shoots.

Those who can stand out from the crowd with marginally more effort and care have a better chance of reward.