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London is one of the most popular cities in the world for students from the UK and abroad to try to find work experience. Once you come to London however, what can you expect? Is there anything you need to know or special preparation you need to make?
Choosing the UK capital as the place to do your internship or paid work experience placement means you will have access to some of the most exciting attractions and night life in the world, as well as work experience opportunities in almost any industry you can imagine.
To help any students or graduates looking to find work experience in London, we have created a guide to everything you need to know to find the perfect placement.
If you don’t already live in London, choosing the right accommodation can be very important for making your time on work experience as enjoyable as possible. Travelling from one part of London to another can take a long time, so, if you can, it is best to try to find accommodation close to the place where you will be working.
If there is no accommodation available near your company, or the accommodation in the area is too expensive for you, look at the transport links to your place of work and use this to find other suitable areas to live.
For instance; say you were doing work experience with a bank in Canary Wharf but couldn’t afford to live there (not many people can!), Canary Wharf has a station on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), so you could look for other areas on the DLR which are in your price range. This would mean you would not have to use more than one type of public transport to get to work (e.g train, tube, bus etc) and therefore your commute would be quicker and less expensive.
If you are from outside the UK, a good way to immerse yourself in the British culture (and practise your English skills) is to live with a host family. Host family accommodation in London is also usually cheaper than renting a room privately and meals can be included as part of the package.
Finally, certain types of work experience can offer accommodation as part of the job. This is a common arrangement in hotels or pubs for example. If you are looking for an arrangement like this, it is very important you ask about it when you are contacting the employer or the agency setting up your work experience. Don’t assume that this will be offered and then find yourself disappointed when it is not!
Twin can arrange homestay or private rental accommodation for you during your work experience placement.
If you are arriving in London by aeroplane, you will need a transfer to get from the airport to your accommodation. London has four main passenger airports; Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted, and train or bus transfers are available from each of them into the centre of London.
The webpages listing the transport options to and from each airport are here:
If you are new to the city and not confident of finding your way from the airport to where you will be living, Twin can arrange to collect you at the airport and take you to your accommodation.
If English is not your first language, it can be useful to take a few English lessons before you start your work placement to make sure you can communicate effectively with your potential colleagues.
The vocabulary used at work can be very different from the words you would use when talking to your friends. A short refresher course on business English could help you feel more confident about getting the most out of your work experience placement and give you a better chance of impressing your employer!
Twin can arrange pre-work experience English lessons at an English level that suits you.
Having a good CV is crucial to landing a good work experience or internship placement. It’s important to list any qualification or skills on your CV that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
Of course the purpose of doing work experience is just that; to get experience, so don’t worry if your experience is a little bare. Employers looking to take on work experience candidates will be most receptive to a good attitude and a willingness to learn.
Even so, you still want your CV to get noticed, so think hard about what you have accomplished to date and you may find some things to list on your CV which will impress your next boss!
Did you ever work in a bar, supermarket or shop? You could mention on your CV about how this taught you the value of good customer service.
Have you done any freelance work in the area you want to get experience in? Even if it is only as much as creating a blog or drawing a few designs in your spare time, anything you have done can count and will be worth mentioning.
More detailed advice on building a great CV can be found here
Twin also have a free CV builder service to help you format your CV in a way that employers respond to, try it out here!
A lot of work experience placements in London will only offer you small expenses payments to cover things like transport or lunch costs. For this reason, it is important to budget how you will make your money last through the placement.
Choosing the right accommodation (as mentioned above) can help, and lots of money saving tips are available from this government’s independent money advice service.
The good news is, even if you have very little money to spend during your time on work experience, there are lots of free things to see and do in London. Why not go to the national gallery or the science museum? If neither of those grabs you then try a picnic in Richmond park or walk along the south bank of the Thames, which often has street performers doing amazing things for free.
Time Out magazine has the best listings for free events in London here
Geography of your industry
This one is much less important than it used to be, but certain industries are still largely located in particular areas of London. For instance, if you are interested in creative work or media internships, you might well find yourself based in Shoreditch, or for a finance internship Canary Wharf. Taking this into account can help you plan where you want to live and start budgeting money accordingly.
Back up plan
Even if you have followed all the advice above, sometimes things can go wrong with your work experience placement or internship, so it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan in case this happens to you.
If you create a brilliant CV which lets employers know how wonderful you would be, but you still can’t get the work experience placement you want, maybe you need to consider your application from another angle?
You could apply for a slightly less competitive placement and then try to switch jobs once you are in the company and you have a chance to give a good impression to the right people.
Another good tip is to try applying for work experience with smaller companies as they will often have more need for enthusiastic staff and you might get more responsibility during your placement than you would at a big firm.
Twin Group has been placing students and graduates from all over the world in work experience placements in London since 1993. We have the contacts and the experience to find you work experience in the industry you want to enter.
Call us on 020 8297 1132 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see what we can offer you!
Posted by Peter Fox
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