Work experience in the time of COVID

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Written by Sarah Ashworth, Careers Consultant at The Careers Service

Getting work experience, whether related or unrelated to your degree and future aspirations, can be valuable in attracting the attention of future employers.

Emma Pollard, Principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) says: “Employers believe that work experience – including voluntary work and other university activities, as well as conventional employment – helps graduates develop the skills they require and thus helps them to perform better and ‘hit the ground running’ once recruited.”

With WFH and COVID restrictions, how possible is it to get work experience right now?

The graduate careers site Prospects currently has over 250 opportunities advertised. These range from online taster sessions (TeachFirst), through to summer 2021 placements (Lloyd’s Banking), to full-on placement years (GlaxoSmithKline). This is just one of the online placement advertisers. We’ve curated a full list for you to make things easier.

Many employers are looking for virtual ways to bring work experience to life for their future recruits (that’s you!). One way in which this is happening is through sites like Forage. This site brings together virtual experience programmes, from brand-name employers, offering you the chance to develop your skills during a virtual experience.

Volunteering is also a tried and tested way to build experience. Check out the Volunteering Hub for a whole range of COVID-secure and remote volunteering opportunities.

Finally, you may have a great idea for work experience, but as it is unpaid you are wondering how to fund it. Check out the work experience bursary* that aims to help you do just that.

*(Amount and eligibility for bursary is subject to terms and conditions – see website for details)

Oh, and if you can’t find exactly what you want to do (or it’s not currently a possibility) – employers we’ve spoken to understand that it’s a difficult time to secure work experience, but they will still want to know what meaningful activities you chose to do instead! 

To get inspired, have a look at our on demand online workshops.

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