Finding a work experience placement can be a vital first step on the road to getting that dream job. First things first, though, what options are there out there? There are a couple of main types of work experience: one is for 16-19 year olds which is unpaid and usually for 1 day up to 2 weeks and the second is usually a longer arrangement for older candidates (that can be paid or unpaid).
The first type of placement for school leavers offers you an insight into an industry; it’s a great way to see if it’s a sector or role you’d like to pursue. Lots of the best companies offer this type of work experience as, given that it’s for short periods and it is often more a shadowing role rather than actually carrying out work, it allows them to give this opportunity to a large number of students.
The second type of work placement is for candidates that may have some experience or are graduates. This usually assumes that there is a level of knowledge and therefore some work will be delegated to you. For this reason the placement is often longer, say, a month or even longer.
Here are some of the companies that offer the best work experience placements in the UK:
The BBC offers two-week placements in London and Salford for all ages mainly in three areas: International News, Vision and BBC Sport. There are other placements which usually involve research that are offered on a case-by-case basis.
The newspaper offers ‘insight days’ for over 18 year olds where candidates go for a day and learn about all about journalism through a presentation, a tour of the editorial floor, talks about career paths with professional journalists and a question and answer section.
International publishing house Penguin are based in central London and offer work experience for over 18 year olds in the form of a hands-on two-week placement. You can be placed in any one of their departments and assist that team with general office duties, responding to readers’ emails, attending meetings and manning the phones.
As the UK’s largest children’s charity Barnardo’s can give a great insight into what it’s like to work within the charity sector or as a social worker. They offer 12-week voluntary work placements in the spring, summer and autumn, either at their head offices, in children’s services or in their shops. The specific internships available are: Policy and Research intern, Events intern, Design intern, Fundraising intern, Retail intern and Marketing intern.
If you’re thinking of becoming a lawyer then this large solicitors practice is an ideal place to start. They offer legal work experience placements to 18 year olds for a week in any of their offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow or Edinburgh. You have to apply between September and February for the four weeks they offer during August and October.
You may not have heard of Covance but it one of the largest drug development companies. Because of its size and structure there are lots of different opportunities on offer all over the UK as well as at their head offices in Maidenhead. The placements take place during the summer and include the following (and more): Toxicology Lab Operations, Early Development, Animal Operations, Genetic & Molecular Toxicology, Environmental Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology, Data Management, Volunteer Recruitment, Finance, Human Resources and Admin.
These are just some of the larger companies that offer placements to young people wanting to gain experience and knowledge about their chosen career path. The information that you gain from these days, weeks or months is incomparable in terms of really getting to know what a job entails and being able to gain the knowledge on how to get there.
Like our pick of the best work experience placements, but looking for more tips and tricks? Check out our guide to how to get work experience.