Here at Uptree, we love this time of year! It’s when we get in touch with hundreds of young people across the UK as part of our summer campaign to learn more about the routes our students are choosing to take this September.
Whether it’s joining an Uptree partner apprenticeship or job role, or pursuing academia, we are proud to say that our students are both ambitious and talented. Our team has loved hearing about their achievements and also their resilience over what is undoubtedly a daunting time to be entering the world of work.
We quickly realised that our outreach has served a secondary purpose, as our calls have given the young people in our network an inclusive space to chat to us about the work experience days they’ve attended, as well as the practical skills and advice that they have found the most valuable.
We’re really committed to making sure our students' voices are heard and what better way to do this than to share some of our conversations. So, for this week’s blog, here’s a little less from us, and a lot more from our network on what they think makes a work experience day so awesome.
What stood out to you on the day as being really great and why?
Student led-feedback on standout moments will help you to shape your future events. Themes from our network included a need for social experiences and active learning, a friendly atmosphere with relatable volunteers, and requests to be treated professionally as young adults.
Here is more in their own words:
The friendly atmosphere on the event when I was first greeted, I felt welcomed as everyone was really nice to me and this really calmed my nerves. If they weren’t so friendly, I don’t think I would have been as interested.
They gave us a chance to work on a real-life example, we had a few products that we had to mix together to create another product, then we presented it back to the group and we had to try to sell it… that was really cool.
The interactive game we played as a group; it really broke the ice with everyone.
Lots of time to ask questions at the end, because I had a question I really wanted to ask, and they gave me the chance to ask it.
I loved hearing about information on the company as a whole but they also included the different departments that I didn’t even know about and might not think about initially so that was really good.
I thought the way we learnt about what to do in interviews was helpful and the STAR technique isn’t something I had learnt about at school, it really clicked with me’.
What really stood out was they treated us like adults whereas a lot of the other events I’ve attended have treated us like children still.
What one thing would you like to have seen more of?
Our research has shown that students will continue to push for work experience that focuses on a variety of different job roles and networking opportunities.
We’re also increasingly seeing young people request information about a company’s culture - if you haven’t included this to date it might be something to think about:
Shadowing and learning about different job roles and what people do day to day, as much of this as possible really as that’s the main reason I attended.
More networking with different people as this was the most useful.
More interactive games and activities as the session we did was really fun, and it was a chance to meet other people with similar interests too.
I wish there was more information on the mental health side of things and what the companies do for wellbeing.
More time for questions at the end as I started to think of lots more questions that I wanted to ask just as the day was ending.
If you could design an activity for a work experience day what would it be?
What better way to reflect than to ask our network how they’d design their own insight day!
Bringing young people together for a social experience, matching them to mentors and focusing on diversity are all ideas that students put forward:
I would always want to know about the different stages in the business, having little stalls about the different pathways and departments. Understanding about specific jobs and not just the company overview.
I would design activities where people could contribute, a lot of the time you’re observing but you can't do anything yourself, so activities help to make it more interesting. Chatting amongst groups and getting to know other students a little better is also something I would include; it can be hard to concentrate when you are just listening to somebody talk.
An interactive activity with games, so I could get to know people as I went to another event and got to know what people were doing through fun games and talking to other students. Sharing advice with them really helped.
Activities that weren't actually related to the work the company do aren’t as good, I’d like to find out what they did and why they did it, I would choose something that shows how the jobs within the business are done and not exercises that aren’t as relevant.
A game such as 'a day in a life of a certain job role in that company' would be great.
I think I would design a game where we acted as the role we want to do at the company and they gave us fake situations and some activities we could work on that were based on real life examples, that would be really good.
Probably a poll or voting quiz - asking questions can be easier sometimes in this way, especially online.
Have a wide variety of speakers from all different routes and roles to give the most information.
Some food for thought
Whilst a lot of the above isn’t new, and the comments are by no means exhaustive, we think it’s a great opportunity to reflect on our students' opinions as a way to continually challenge our own assumptions on what should and shouldn’t be included in a great careers event.
Real life examples, interactivity and giving young people autonomy to contribute to your day as adults will build the cornerstones for creating a community of interested future candidates. There is also huge benefit for students who connect with people at similar stages in their careers, and with volunteers who are working in their dream jobs.
We are partnered with a wide range of forward-thinking employers who are committed to supporting generations of future talent through outstanding learning experiences.
A work experience day should only be the first step in building an incredible career, and we’re here to guide you and your students through this exciting stage and beyond. It’s the best way to build long-term success for all involved.
If you would like to hear some more about the work that we do, or to discuss new approaches for your careers outreach or events, then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com