One thing that many people report as being a challenging situation is how to find work experience in London. And indeed, in the past it was somewhat difficult to find such placements.
Thankfully things are a little different in the 21st century, with employers realizing the value to both themselves and those who take on the positions.
In fact, so much so, that many of the large employment companies have dedicated work experience programs to actively encourage talent to join them.
There are many different type of work experience to be found in London. In a lot of instances, such schemes are open to penultimate year undergraduates and graduates.
But in addition, many are open to those who are not students, and are looking for options to move into an apprenticeship.
The length of such schemes varies – from a couple of weeks through longer terms – and often with a possibility of full time employment or access to the company’s apprenticeship scheme at the end.
So let’s take a look at the different options there are for finding work experience in London.
Some of the best employment websites, such as Indeed, Monster and Total Jobs, have sections specifically for work experience opportunities. These might be listed as ‘work experience placements’, ‘internships or ‘traineeship programs’.
One advantage about using such employment websites for your work experience search is that once you’ve registered and uploaded your CV, then it’s simply a matter of producing a personalized cover letter for each placement you apply for.
Contacting employers directly
This is probably one of the best ways to seek out a work experience placement in London, but the first thing you need to do in this instance is to find out the name of the person you need to approach.
This is best done by telephone: politely phone the main switchboard (in a large company), and request the name of the person who would be in charge of work experience placements. You never know, you might even get to speak to them directly, so be prepared to utilize that time wisely.
The same applies with a smaller company – and in such a case you’re even more likely to get to talk to the person in charge.
Once you have the name of said person, follow this up with a letter. This doesn’t need to be a long letter, but it needs to show the person that you’re interested in their company, and state the reasons why you’d like to gain work experience with them. You’ll also need to send in your CV.
Of course, such employers know you’re looking for work experience, so they’re not going to expect your CV to be full of previous employment. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t put together an impressive CV. For instance, have you done any voluntary work? What about things you’ve done for charity, or have you had any positions of responsibility at school, college or university?
An exciting work experience opportunity is run each year by the BBC, where they run work experience programs. There are only 4 chances per year to be able to apply for such a program, and each of these windows is only open for 2 weeks. So if this is something you might be interested in, then be sure to get your application in at the right time.
Large supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s, offer 4 week work experience placements. Tesco offer summer internships that last for 10 weeks and for those who are successful during those weeks, it can offer a fast track placement into one of the company’s graduate programs.
Volunteering is not only a good way to gain some work experience, but it’s fun and you know that you’re doing some good as well. And it looks great on your CV. There are many ways to find volunteering work.
Charities are a good place to start – and you can choose from a variety of types of work, from helping out in a local charity shop, being a marshal for a charity event, helping out with the admin work on charity events, helping to fundraise etc. The list is endless.
The official UK Government website has an excellent section on volunteering. They list several online databases that UK volunteering opportunities are advertised. These include Do It, Volunteering England, Volunteering Matters and Join In.
Use social media
Professional’s website, Linkedin, is a great place to connect with people and companies who may be able to offer you work experience. Large (and small) companies also have Facebook profiles, and you never know what might be posted here.
A good tip regarding social media – potential employers are sure to look you up, so it’s time to ensure that your personal Facebook profile is something that you’d be proud for such people to see.
Sure, putting up dodgy photos of last Friday’s night out might be fun at the time, but in all honesty, this really can scupper your chances of being seen as a viable choice for a work experience (or any other type of employment) position.
Gaining work experience is a valuable way to discover if a career path is for you. And even if you gain a placement and decide that that particular industry is not for you, the time is most definitely not wasted. There are many skills that are transferable into virtually any work position: organization, people skills and communication are just a few that will stand you in good stead for any type of job.
One thing for any older people looking for work experience – don’t let the talk of students, graduates and young people put you off applying for work experience positions. Most companies are more than happy to take on older people in such roles and you might be looking for a career change or are coming back to the job market after a career break.
Whatever your personal situation, work experience can be a valuable tool to enhance your CV, give you up to date employment skills and even see you managing to secure a paid job in the process.