A group of Space Studio West London pupils have attended a jam-packed week of virtual work experience, and have revealed the most helpful tips that they have learned. 

Suvarunika Thirumaran and Andomski Rodrigues, both in Year 12, participated in the week-long event, and were pleasantly surprised with the range of things covered and lessons learned from it. 

The programme was organised by Young Professionals UK, and the agenda included talks by massive companies such as: EY, Capgemini, RAF, NHS, Rolls-Royce, Browne Jacobson LLP, CIMA and PwC.

Suvarunika explained: “It has been a book of adventures, and every page was different!

“Every speaker that we had, had a totally different input about the world of work.

“It was such a unique experience and it has taught me so many different skills, as well as insights into different industries and career paths I had never considered before!” she added.

Dan Miller, the CEO of Young Professionals UK, founded the company when he was just 17 years old, and continues to inspire young people. 

He said: “I wanted to give back to young people and make sure they got really good opportunities. 

“Rather than being shoved down the university route, we are ensuring that they are being shown alternative route paths to getting into a career, whilst exposing them to some of the biggest brands on the planet.

“On the virtual work experience, students are coached on how to get jobs, we were conducting psychometric tests and digital interview prep, lots of cool things to help them through the process” he added.

The sessions were each an hour long, and ran from 9am until 4pm every day for a week. 

In addition to learning new things like practicing psychometric tests with CIMA and discovering the world of ‘side hustles’, Suvarunika and Andomski offered three key upshots that will help their professional development. 

Their top tips from the sessions:

1. Personal branding: Highlight key things about yourself that are unique to you.

Suvarunika said: “Before, I would always list things about myself, all of my achievements, but all that does is mention the things that I have done, the events I have attended, and not the person that I am.

“I want to be judged on the person that I am, not the things that I have done.

“In the future, I will be noting that I am also a passionate writer, and that I have completed my first story and had poems published. Picking up on the things that are unique to me, and not just general tick-boxes.”

2. Apprenticeships: Research all of your options for when you leave school.

As somebody who has always considered going to university after finishing A Levels, the virtual work experience was really helpful for Suvarunika for highlighting the benefits of non-university options, such as apprenticeships.

She said: “Space Studio has always encouraged us to look at both universities and apprenticeships, and that was cemented this week.

“The session leaders were helpful at validating my points on apprenticeships, so that I am now able to relay those points to family members who may have a negative view on them. 

“Also, being able to speak with people who are currently completing apprenticeships was a really insightful exercise that allowed us to gain a better understanding of them” she added.

3. Social media: Making the most of your digital footprint.

Another top tip that came from the virtual work experience for Andomski was to use the ever-growing power of social media to establish an online brand and network with professionals for guidance, advice and experience. 

He said: “Use online platforms like LinkedIn to demonstrate your portfolio, all of your accolades and achievements, so that employers can easily see all of the great things that you have done.

“Then, eventually, jobs will come to you rather than you going to jobs!” 

Both Andomski and Suvarunika had organised work experience sessions this year, but both were unfortunately cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

For this reason, Steph Lee, Careers Lead at Space Studio, believes that the Virtual Work Experience organised by Young Professionals was of particular significance this year, and was a productive use of the pupils’ time. 

She said: “With lockdown, this is an ideal opportunity for the students to gain some skills and learn some things that they can include on their personal statement and CV’s.

“In this scheme, there are professional people from all sorts of industries, giving up their time to help young people. 

“If they’re not able to go and complete work experience in person, why not attend a virtual session like this, jam-packed with skills and insights!” she added.

Dan Miller agrees, and has been impressed with the success of conducting this work experience week through a virtual format. 

He said: “After speaking with careers advisors from around the country, it transpired that lots of students had lost work experience placements due to COVID-19. 

“We wanted to ensure that we had a wide range of businesses so that the 4,500 students that took part could get a better understanding of different sectors. Rather than going to 20 individual events, they were able to sign in virtually and get access to the expertise of so many different people.”

Because of the success of this project, Dan Miller and Young Professionals UK aim to continue with virtual initiatives in the future. 

He said: “We will keep going back into schools when we can, but we would definitely like to keep doing things virtually, including some different virtual events lined up over the summer period!” 

At Space Studio, Steph Lee and the rest of the team actively seek opportunities such as these, and encourage the pupils to take as many of them as possible. 

Being careers-focussed and working closely with employers and industry is just one of the core values that underpin the Space Studio West London curriculum. You can read more about it here.