career development / Coronavirus

10 ways to gain valuable experience despite the pandemic

Securing much-needed internships and work experience in order to boost your CV and chances of securing a graduate job have always been competitive. Lockdown 3 is making things a real challenge, so what can you do to get some much-needed experience despite COVID?

Most graduate recruiters will be understanding of the obstacles students are currently facing. According to a recent graduate labour market update by Prospect’s Charlie Ball, some recruiters do still hope to offer in-person internships over the summer. However the reality is that many won’t be in a position to do so for a while yet. You therefore need to explore alternative ways and means to acquire your experience.

The good news is that by broadening out your definition of what constitutes a valuable experience there are a variety ways you can enhance your employability. Here are a range of opportunities to suit your different needs and interests. It’s not an exhaustive list but it’s a good starting point and should make it easier to see that there are many things you can do despite the current constraints.

  1. The Warwick Internship Programme

Warwick Internship Programme (WIP) is a new Warwick funded programme exclusively for undergraduate students, developed in response to the current needs of our stakeholders, assisting:

  • Students to develop their employability and career progression
  • Internship hosts to develop their business.

WIP offers 6-week full-time equivalent opportunities, worked part or full time (or a combination). Internships are project-based and undertaken in a flexible, remote working or a Covid-secure environment.

2. The Warwick Advance Programme

WAP is open to UK/Home students with a Widening Participation background and will help you apply for a paid spring or summer internship with a graduate employer, in the UK or overseas.

3. Virtual Internships

Sometimes called ‘online internships’, ‘remote internships’ or ‘e-internships’ these are work experience programmes where you are not physically present at the job location and may have little or no face to face contact with the organisation they are conducting the internship with. These opportunities may be found advertised alongside more traditional work experience vacancies

4. International Virtual Internships and Virtual Simulation

TeamWork Provides virtual international internship experience, part-time for 4-weeks during July. It offers a flexible international skills preparation programme in May and involves collaboration with students from top universities around the world. It’s career enhancing, will build your CV and improve your employability skills.  The time commitment is 1-2 hours per week for 4 weeks in April/May and part-time for 4 weeks in July 2021.

Last summer and winter vacations, Bright Network provided 3-day Virtual Internships across a range of corporate sectors. Students made great use of these with over 3,000 opportunities being accessed by Warwick students and recent graduates. Students can complete more than 1 internship (many did) and students from any year may apply. The good news is that Bright Network will be offering Virtual Internships again this summer. Check out their website and register free to receive more information when the opportunities go live.

Forage (formally Inside Sherpa) host programmes from companies such as Deloitte, KPMG, Accenture, Grant Thornton, BCG, JP Morgan, GE, Linklaters, Pinsent Masons, White & Case. Both online programmes enable you to interact with virtual clients and colleagues in a way that replicates the day-to-day work of a company.

5. Undergraduate research placements

Research counts as work experience so why not consider applying for a paid summer research internship? Some academic departments also run their own schemes- so check what your Department may be offering. The Undergraduate Research Support Scheme enables undergraduate students to carry out an interdisciplinary summer research project. N.B. Applications close on Sunday February 28 2021, they will be advertised again for next academic year- so make a note for next year). Zooniverse has a wide range of online citizen science projects – from hunting for comets, to tagging penguins, to exploring the secret lives of artists through their notebooks.

6. Finding your own placement

If you find your own placement then we may be able to provide financial support through provision of a bursary

7. Volunteering

These comments from top graduate recruiters should offer reassurance of the value of volunteering as a viable alternative to work experience.

“Put aside preconceptions: volunteering is work experience with the added possibility that the act of choosing to be a volunteer can show even greater initiative and commitment”. (Senior Manager Executive Education, HSBC)

“It doesn’t matter if it’s paid or not but voluntary work would count just as much as paid work in our eyes” (Accenture)

A wide range of Volunteer opportunities are available both in person and online through the following organisations: Warwick Volunteers Volunteer online Do-It Any volunteering you have or are undertaking in response to the pandemic is also valuable.

8. Competitions & Challenges

Competitions and challenges are often Sector or company-specific so make sure that you are following them on your social media. Engaging in competitions will provide good evidence of motivation and proactivity.

9. Learning new things

Broadening your knowledge base can be beneficial. Many students go on to work in areas not directly related to their degree or where supplementary knowledge can be an advantage.

Free Online learning platforms

Learn a new language

Although not a specific requirement for every employer, languages are nonetheless highly valued and could be an impressive addition to your CV. 

Learn to code

The way we work and live continues to move forward at pace and often facilitated through technology, coding skills are increasingly valuable across most sectors

10. Online freelancing

One of the advantages of working virtually is that there are opportunities to match skills and talents with needs- so consider online freelancing. You might want to consider tuition for GCSE/’A’ level students wanting to give their subject skills and knowledge a boost for example.

So, what are you waiting for? Seize the day and make the most of the opportunities that are available!

See also these links for additional useful resources:

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