In this week’s #MyNextSteps blog, we talk about meaningful work experience. #MyNextSteps is our events and blog campaign, offering current King’s students and recent graduates relevant, reassuring and friendly advice to navigate the next steps of your career journey during Covid-19.
What does meaningful work experience mean to you? An image that might come to mind is being all suited and booted striding off to a 10 week paid internship in the city. For some, this kind of opportunity is viewed as the gold standard but for the vast majority, this will also not be the reality. This picture does not marry with the values and career expectations of everyone, and most of you may also not yet be clear about what your summer will hold. So let’s focus on reality – something inclusive for all King’s students.
Start your work experience with King’s Edge this summer
Get your notebook out – because this opportunity is so exciting, you don’t want to miss it! King’s Edge is a new programme running throughout spring/summer 2021 with inclusive work experience opportunities for all students to take part in. It’s a brand new work experience and self-development programme literally for every King’s student to take part in.
King’s Edge invites students on a journey of exciting initiatives and events, providing you with the opportunity to develop specialist and transferrable skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and digital skills.The programme of extracurricular initiatives includes internships and volunteering opportunities, language courses, community organising, creative skills, wellbeing and much more. You will also benefit from King’s connections and networking opportunities to not only develop your employability but feel connected with other students and the wider King’s community.
Whether you’ve got something lined up this summer, or you are currently looking for ideas, King’s Edge is here for you.
Frequently asked questions about work experience – the summer edition
1) I want to find out about work and what I enjoy. Where should I go to?
Excellent idea! The virtual work experience platform Forage provides custom, self-paced experience programmes with companies like Deloitte, GE and Accenture. They take less than 10 hours to complete, are open to all and free of charge. By taking part in a simulated project you will gain a taste of performing the tasks required for that role and organisation. There are a number of internship or short term work opportunities advertised on Careers Connect and sites like W4MP and Charity Jobs. Many are still remote meaning that they are accessible to those not currently based in London.
2) I want to gain experience in a particular area, and I’m from an underrepresented background
King’s Internships run two programs that open up paid internship opportunities to those from underrepresented backgrounds. Register on the KEATS page for opportunities this summer. There are a number of other external schemes which have similar aims such as the Windsor Fellowship, Creative Access, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and Change 100. Some individual employers such as the Civil Service’s Diversity internships and Black Talent in Business at PWC offer similarly targeted opportunities.
3) I need to earn money! How do I find work experience?
Yes, this is a pretty important reason for getting work experience over the summer! Many students will spend the summer working as delivery drivers, supermarket workers, in family businesses shops and bars. And believe us when we say these are valuable experiences for your future!
Employers always tell us that they highly value this kind of work experience. Think of it this way: no one is cutting you a break, you’re being a self-starter. You are telling employers that you can show up, get stuck in, get the job done and as an added bonus you will likely gain communication, teamwork and time management skills at the same time.
4) I need to gain experience in skills like team management and project planning
Developing your skills beyond your academic experience might be your next priority – and that’s fantastic! There are loads of ways you can achieve this through King’s LinkedIn learning courses and various extra-curricular activities.
Volunteering can also be a useful way to gain work experience that will boost your skills. King’s Insights projects are running its own virtual internship program with Practera that allows 2nd and 3rd years to participate in a 2-week group project. Look at this blog post to see how a recent participant feels the programme developed her skills!
5) I want to build my network – how can I utilise work experience for this?
A traditional internship is as much about building your network as the other tangible outputs. This is harder in the virtual environment where there is much less opportunity for casual introductions and conversations. Ideally in a virtual internship, you will be given regular online meetings with your supervisor. Ask them to connect you with others in the organisation who could give you useful insights or advice, or perhaps pair you with a mentor.
Quick tips for virtual networking: Turn your camera on in meetings (blur your background if you would prefer). Make sure to introduce yourself to those you have not met, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make the most of any virtual networking opportunities offered and fully engage with the social media channels the organisation uses such as slack.
It’s all valuable – so focus on what’s meaningful for you right now
Any work experience that develops your skills and self-awareness will move you a step, or a leap forward. Employers understand and appreciate that an organised scheme isn’t a possibility for all. The resilience, flexibility and determination required to make a situation work for you are admired by all.
Written by Fiona Richardson, Careers Consultant at King’s Careers & Employability
Edited by Laura Pätäri