Guest blog: work experience from both sides of the desk | Westminster Kingsway College

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Guest blog: work experience from both sides of the desk

Thursday 11 April 2019

 

During the February half-term holidays, many of our students took up work placement opportunities, to gain new skills and experience the world of work.  For some, it will prove to be vital experience for their CVs.

One of our students, Victoria Freitas Tineo (studying Business), spent a week at the leading London think-tank Centre for London. The week was lined-up by Victoria and Wendy Breakell from Westminster Kingsway College, working with an organisation called S4S: NextGen.  Both Victoria and Jonathan Tuck (Senior Operations Officer at Centre for London) have written about her week, in this special guest blog:

Jonathan

At Centre for London, we value the development of essential, transferable skills and experiences. Hosting our second work experience placement in February 2019 gave us a chance to curate a thorough and rewarding placement for a London-based student, Victoria Freitas Tineo.

When shortlisting applications via S4S: NextGen (run as part of Speakers for Schools), we actively prioritised selecting students based on specific criteria. These were their previous work experience, existing access to work experience through connections, and overall student need. We felt that the opportunity would be of more overall value to those who wouldn’t normally have access to work experience through their existing connections.

We wanted to introduce Victoria to the organisation, our values and priorities, and our way of working as early as possible during the week – Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank, and we develop new solutions to London’s critical challenges, advocating for a fair and prosperous global city. A lot of our work, through our research and events programme, tries to solve London’s big challenges and think about how we can make our city better. Victoria was inducted into our programme through meetings with various team members, who gave her an insight into our current priorities. During her placement, this was the imminent release of our new report, Culture Club: Social mobility in the creative and cultural industries.

The team were keen to involve Victoria in helping with the preparation for the report launch on 28 February, so she could experience the logistics involved with event planning. Victoria was tasked with searching for photos to use in the event presentation, with guidance from our communications and design team, and collating and organising them for our internal image library. She also helped to identify potential event attendees and was able to explain why, and how their interests might align with the themes of our report. In addition, she helped with uploading our report to our website and quickly learned how to use our website management system. These tasks tested her data and prospecting skills and was useful to our team in their preparation for the report launch.

As well as desk-based tasks, we wanted Victoria to leave the week with some new knowledge. She had the chance to drop in to our internal coaching session; learning valuable skills in communication and peer support. Our research team gave her an introduction to data manipulation using Excel – downloading data, picking out key themes and trends, and then working on how best to present this visually. Victoria also gained a useful insight into the process and stages of recruitment at Centre for London, including advertising, shortlisting, and interviews. She had the chance to look at some example CVs and their formatting, and learnt about easy mistakes to avoid, as well as how best to present her experiences, when tailoring applications to a job profile.

The week culminated for Victoria with presenting a research proposal, assisted by some of our team members. Presenting in front of different audiences is a key skill that will prove invaluable in developing confidence, cooperation and communication.

Centre for London was pleased that Victoria had the opportunity to join us for the week, as well as attending our report launch the following week. It was a pleasure hosting her as our work experience student in February. Think tanks like Centre for London are ideal places to undertake work experience because we have a unique perspective into current and relevant policy challenges. We believe experiences here can help shape both an analytical and creative approach to tasks.

Victoria

The work experience was just brilliant. Wendy who helps the Business course students with her links to the real world of work and employers, connected me to S4S [the company offering the placement]. She wrote the reference that I needed and I was offered the placement. I was thrilled to get it.

I learnt so much during my week at the Centre for London. I met all the team and they gave me training every day on a new skill to help develop my skills for a career. I learnt Excel which is proving to be useful in my studies as well as in a future junior job.

They took time to help me to complete tasks and my communication and confidence in myself have really improved.

“I think this placement will really help me with my UCAS application”

I enjoyed working in a professional environment and it has helped me to think about working in a company like this in a future. I am intending to study International Relations at university and I think this placement will really help me with my UCAS application.

I would like to thank everyone at the company and at the college for their support.

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