Two sixth formers at Rivers Academy West London have been confirmed places on competitive virtual work placements at BP and AutoTrader, commencing next month. 

Vignesh Iyer, 18, an Oxford University hopeful and Amy Lee, 17, a Diana Award recipient, are delighted to be taking part in the initiatives as they seek to expand their experience and industry-based knowledge. 

The placements are in conjunction with Teach First with the aim to provide young people from a variety of backgrounds experience working with high-profile organisations to improve social mobility. 

The pupils were both pleasantly surprised to learn that they would be paid for their virtual work experience sessions. 

Anna Robinson, Deputy Director of Post 16 at Rivers and a Teach First participant, said: “They [Teach First] want to improve social inequality, and address educational disadvantage across the country. 

“They provide windows of opportunities to students from all backgrounds, to ensure equal access to experience and the ability to acquire new skills” Anna added.

Objectives of the programme: 

  • To give pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds a better understanding of the jobs market and the different routes into careers through high-quality work experience.
  • To give pupils an opportunity to learn from professional role models who can play a mentoring role during their work experience.
  • To build pupils’ employability skills alongside softer skills such as communication, teamwork, confidence and self-esteem.
  • To increase pupils’ future employability and enhance their university applications.


Amy will be working with AutoTrader, and as an aspiring Project Manager, she is very excited to get an insight into key areas that exist in a digital business, including careers and opportunities, marketing, technology, and using data to support customers. 

She will be busy attending informative talks, workshops and a final project, which she will present back to her mentors. 

Amy was inspired by her business teacher at Rivers Academy, and hopes to pursue a successful business-related career in the future. 

She said: “I loved business at GCSE because of my business teacher, Mrs Nagra.

“Her husband had a business and she told us a lot of personal experiences from him and what his life had been like, and the versatility of his role. 

“He isn’t just doing admin, but also meeting with clients, planning projects, and seeing new people. That is something that really appeals to me!” she added.

This isn’t the first work experience that Amy will complete, as she also completed a placement in project management for the NHS in Ashford, Surrey, when she was in Year 11 and studying for her GCSEs. 

For this AutoTrader placement, the company asked for a focus on the importance of learning to work virtually in the future, which is something that Amy feels impassioned about. 

Amy said: “We live in a rapidly developing society which is exposed to constant change and the need for adaptation of services, products and lifestyles.

“Working virtually enables all members of society to expand their outreach and gain a wider contact base, socially and professionally, which can give people a larger amount of opportunities presented to them” she added. 

Vignesh, who hopes to study at the University of Oxford from this September, applied to the BP work placement as it lies closer to his own interests and career ambitions. 

He said: “I will be studying Chemistry at university, and BP focusses a lot on petrochemicals. But also, I am interested in the world of banking and the relationship between petrochemicals and the global financial system, where BP have a huge influence.

“My interests match that of the organisation, so I’m really happy I got accepted” Vignesh added. 

The most appealing part of completing work experience that is virtual, is the amount of variety that the programme can consist of, as the individual is not bound to one specific department of team within an organisation. 

Across the week, Vignesh will participate in a range of insightful activities such as talks from different speakers, career talks, speed networking, quizzes, group work and a research project, and will attain a well-rounded impression of what working at an organisation the size of BP is like.