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Work experience

where/how to do Work experience
group of learners on work placement in the lab
© Wellcome Connecting Science

For students considering a career in science, work placement and insight can be a really valuable experience, offering a taste of what it could be like to work in a particular field. So how can we help and encourage our students to find and take part in work experience?

There are a number of different schemes that can support students to gain work experience. We’ve outlined some UK-based schemes:

Nuffield Research Placements

This is a UK based scheme where talented year 12 (or equivalent) students have the opportunity to carry out a short research project alongside researchers and industry professionals. This scheme particularly prioritises students from low-income backgrounds and those who are the first in their immediate family to attend university.

In2Science UK

This is another UK organisation that supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds to finding high quality opportunities to gain insight into STEM careers.

Virtual work experience schemes

Following the pandemic, more organisations have adopted a virtual or hybrid approach to work experience. There are some real advantages to this. Most are free and as they are online travel isn’t an issue. Not all virtual work experience takes the same form, they can vary from provider to provider. Some are open to everyone and provide a platform for students to discover more about the job, view pre-recorded videos on what it’s like to work with the organisation, go on virtual tours and possibly take part in some live Q&A sessions. Others may require your student to go through an application process and offer regular online meetings with a supervisor, individual project work, networking sessions, training opportunities and video tutorials.

Virtual work experience providers from the UK include:

Speakers For schools – Springpod

Work shadowing or observations

Not all organisations, universities and hospitals have official work experience programmes but may still offer students the opportunity to undertake a day or two of work shadowing or observations. Different organisations may have different application procedures but the best way to find out is to check their websites or email the department you are interested in. Stress to students that there is no harm in asking an organisation for work shadowing, “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. If you don’t get a response the first time, be persistent and ask again.

Do you know of any work experience schemes in your region? What experience do you have of this?

© Wellcome Connecting Science
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