Work experience and insight programmes for first years

Although a substantial number of work experience opportunities require students to be in their penultimate and final years of study, there are still a range of methods by which first year students can engage in activities to gain and develop key employability skills.

Your first year at university is an exciting opportunity for you to explore your career options and get a head start in determining your career route, and there is no better way than gaining hands-on experience.

Careers Network provides a range of resources and guidance to help you, as a first year student, engage in work experience. You can:

  • Get involved in volunteering to help gain practical experience in an occupational setting
  • Create your own work experience by approaching a company and building a relationship directly
  • Undertake part time work using the Job Zone (for external part time work) and Worklink (for campus based part time work) to gain and develop your employability skills
  • Job shadow a professional in the industry you want to work in
  • Find a structured internships during your summer vacation period using Careers Connect (use our step-by-step guide (PDF - 678KB) to find out how to gain access to the system)
  • Apply for campus based internships through our Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme (opens in the spring term) and for international summer internships through the Global Challenge programme

Insight programmes

What is an insight programme?

In recent years an increasing number of companies have constructed insight programmes. Insight programmes are primarily designed for first year undergraduate students. They aim to give an insight into the organisation and how they operate ‘behind-the-scenes’, providing students with an overview of the work undertaken within the company. In some of the larger organisations Insight programmes are delivered as part of an employment package and can sometimes lead to being fast tracked on to a summer internship programme within the organisation at the end of your second year.

What do they consist of?

Insight programmes are highly interactive sessions. Although delivery methods vary depending on the size and type of the organisation most programmes consist of some or all of the below activities:

  • Ice breaker and team-building exercises
  • Workshops / scenario based tasks
  • Introduction and awareness building exercises for the organisation
  • Staff presentations from senior managers
  • Site tours
  • Employability presentations / workshops
  • Networking lunches / sessions

How long can they last?

Insight programmes can vary in duration. Some organisations deliver insight days, while others run a more structured lengthier programme lasting between 1 and 2 weeks.

When do they run?

The majority of lengthier insight programmes run during the Easter period (sometimes dubbed as "Spring Week"), however, they can also be delivered during the summer vacation period and autumn term (this is dependent on the size and type of organisation). For spring insight programmes applications tend to open during the autumn term.

How can I find insight programmes?

You can search for insight programmes using our Careers Connect online vacancy database.

Additionally here you can find a small selection of available positions (PDF - 189KB).