As part of our job, we run a lot of online events. Even before the global pandemic, the team were busy putting together the finishing touches to a new style of work experience day, one where students can show up and learn from the comfort of their living room.
This all sped up a little with the arrival of Covid-19. A few months in, and our online events are now in full swing. Whilst we still believe that in-office work experience is incredibly powerful, the humble online event has captured our imagination.
A recent online work experience day with Clifford Chance, attended by 50 students
Benefits of online events
Online events have kept up the momentum with work experience during a hugely difficult period for young people, when exams, finishing school and enjoying the company of friends have all been removed.
They act as a positive reminder of our human ability to remain agile and we have seen them bring co-workers together to volunteer, surprise themselves and celebrate the impact they have had on students' experiences of lockdown.
In a generation where technology is ingrained into the everyday lives of younger generations, online events have also become a great way to speak to students in a dialogue that suits them best.
I enjoyed the talking in small groups as it was like a real interview with other people you didn't know but more relaxed. Also enjoyed the polls as they made the session interactive - student from a June workshop
Platforms, such as our preference, Zoom, have allowed work experience days to run interactively, meaning that not only are students getting the chance to learn, they are doing so together, collectively. Sometimes it’s those little interactions, so at risk of being lost during our current pandemic, that are saved through group activities online.
And whether or not you agree with us, one things for sure: the new normal won’t be like the old normal, our habits have moved on and so must we.
So, as well as creating the perfect setting to learn about careers, safely and in numbers, we’ve noticed a further reason to justify our thinking.
Cold spot recruitment
There's a huge conundrum for many early careers teams. You can almost hear the meetings: ‘we’ve excelled in inner city talent, close to the offices and within distance to travel, but how on earth do we reach lost talent in remote areas?’
Online events, when used wisely, could be the answer. We’ve all hesitated to run these in the past, partly due to a very understandable unease of using technology (who hasn’t had the fright of realising they aren’t on mute?) but also due to a deep-rooted uncertainty that value may be lost.
Our feedback and results at Uptree have suggested otherwise. In fact, online events can work as a wonderful way to boost student engagement across the country. It sounds simple, but it’s so easily overlooked.
With many of us leading more-privileged lives, we start to forget that the cost of travel, helping to care for younger siblings, or being unable to book a train or bus ticket in advance are all real barriers for some young people opting out of work experience day.
We all strive to improve social mobility, and to live in a world where advantage isn’t based on how much your parents earn, or whereabouts they choose to live. But this is a reality facing thousands of young people.
Online events provide an opportunity to ensure that those from cold-spot areas, or from disadvantaged backgrounds, do not need to go to remarkable lengths to meet with a business professional before they leave school. At Uptree, this is paramount to our interest in creating online sessions alongside our wonderful partners.
There is still work to be done, but if a positive from this extraordinary year is the evolution of a new style of work experience, one that can be followed up or used alongside in-person settings, then we think we might just be on the way to designing a perfect early careers agenda.
If you would like to learn more about our online events and the work that we do, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org