10 top tips for success on virtual work experience

The world has changed dramatically with rapid changes in technology impacting how we work and study but also creating exciting opportunities to gain virtual work experience.

More and more students are now taking advantage of online placements to further develop their skills with employers and deepen their knowledge for their future careers.

Since COVID, companies are increasingly offering hybrid working with employees wanting more flexibility and bosses realising the benefits of a less tired and more productive workforce. However, the aftermath of the pandemic and the current economic climate have also made it more challenging for businesses to prioritise in-person work experience in some sectors.

Springpod works with Capital City College Group (CCCG) to offer virtual work placements and other enrichment opportunities to students. It has around 400,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide gaining online experience with top employers including Siemens, Deloitte, Airbus, Fujitsu, Barclays and the NHS.

Students from City and Islington College (CANDI), which is part of CCCG, recently completed an employability workshop with Springpod to help them prepare for work. Upon completion, 94 per cent rated their awareness of employability skills as good or excellent and 90 per cent felt confident about finding a job in the future.

Advantages to virtual placements include not being restricted to working for companies close to you, enabling students to gain much broader experience and save money on travel costs. They are also beneficial to those who may find it difficult to attend in-person placements due to a disability or health reasons.

While there are many benefits to in-person work placements, students should also consider gaining online experience, or combine both, so they leave college with a CV that stands out to employers.

Here’s our top 10 tips on making the most of virtual work placements:

  • Start building up your virtual experience now. Why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and try various careers? Find out what Springpod offer here.
  • Check the deadlines for applications and dates of the placement, and make sure you have all the equipment you need in advance so you’re ready to work. 
  • Virtual experiences are a safe way to try out new areas and develop new skills without having to adjust to a new environment and meet new people.
  • Practice your communication skills by asking questions in online meetings. Typing in an online chat can be a less intimidating way to find out what you need to know.
  • Take the opportunity to really connect with employers who may have job opportunities in the future. It can be really impressive if you refer back to your experience in job applications. 
  • Ensure everyone at home is aware of times when you need to focus and make sure you plan breaks, including a lunch break, as you would if you were at work.
  • Think about what you want to learn from the experience. Reflect on your own skills and think about whether or not this career is right for you.
  • With more employers now offering hybrid working, virtual placements offer the chance to become proficient using applications such as Teams and Zoom.
  • Keep notes on what you have learned so you can add the experience to your CV and refer back to them when you are completing UCAS and job applications.
  • Overall, be professional and enthusiastic in your approach and make the most of these valuable opportunities.

Find out more about Work Experience and Volunteering here.

Want to be a doctor? Here’s our top 10 tips for medical work experience

Many of our students taking A Levels in Biology and Chemistry at City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College have ambitions to work as doctors or in medicine.

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), work placements are an essential step to securing a place at any UK medical school with institutions looking for students with a range of healthcare experience.

Here’s our top 10 tips on how to gain work placements and make the most of the experience:

  1. You can get placements in a range of healthcare settings from GP practices to hospitals and even internationally. Bear in mind a lot of people will be looking to gain similar experience, so apply early for as many opportunities as possible to make sure you get a good placement.
  2. Get in touch with GP practice managers and explain who you are and ask them about placements and how they can help you gain experience. If you can’t shadow a doctor, look to other healthcare professionals, such as pharmacists and physiotherapists.
  3. Make the most of your contacts, such as relatives, friends and neighbours, who work in hospitals or other parts of the healthcare sector.
  4. Speak to your teachers and careers advisers who can help you find placements. At CCCG, we work with dozens of employers in healthcare to provide opportunities for our students to gain experience and learn from those working in the sector, as well as support with UCAS applications.
  5. Look at opportunities for experience at medical schools like Brighton and Sussex Medical School, which offers a six-week virtual work experience programme. While not designed to completely replace in-person placements in the real world, this course gives an insight into medicine and being a doctor. The course introduces students to the NHS and different medical roles including the key skills needed to work in those areas and challenges they face.
  6. The BMA does not encourage healthcare professionals to charge students for placements, although there may be instances where you could be asked to cover costs such as administration. Don’t be afraid to ask if there are any costs you need to pay.
  7. Dress smartly when on your placement, explain what you would like to gain from the experience and what you would like to learn while you are there. Ask questions with enthusiasm to a diverse mix of staff to give you a great insight into healthcare.
  8. Talk politely to patients and remember that confidentiality is important and under no circumstances discuss their issues outside the organisation where you are on placement. Don’t take it personally if a patient wishes to be seen without a student present.
  9. Keep a diary of what you did and saw each day, which can help solidify what you learn and be an important reference tool when you come to writing your UCAS personal statement and preparing for medical school interviews.
  10. Finally, here’s a list of other organisations that can help with finding work placements:

Apply now for A Levels at City and Islington College here and Westminster Kingsway College here.

Tech savvy students volunteer at PC Pals community project

IT students from City and Islington College (CANDI) have been volunteering at a community project helping people learn and develop their digital skills.

A group of nine students have been sharing their tech knowledge at PC Pals sessions held at St Luke’s Community Centre in Central Street in south Islington.

The project started in 2009 and provides free weekly access to PCs and wi-fi and offers support and advice on using computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Students have been helping people to use Windows, Microsoft applications, social media, email, online shopping, mobile phone apps and other technical support.

Their voluntary work will form part of the work experience they are required to complete on their IT Level 2 Certificate and IT Level 3 Diploma courses.

John Garces, Business Engagement Manager at St Luke’s Community Centre, said: “The involvement and support from City and Islington College’s students has been amazing and so valuable.

“We have seen tangible changes in people who have come to us. After a few classes with the students, they feel more confident and are not afraid of using a computer. It’s learning basic things many of us take for granted that can make a huge difference to someone’s life.”

PC Pals runs every Wednesday from noon to 1pm.

Find out more about Computing and IT courses at CANDI and apply here.

Capital City College Group set to launch T Levels from September 2023

Capital City College Group (CCCG) will be offering T Levels across its three colleges from September 2023.

Five T Levels will be available at City and Islington College (CANDI), The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing)

What are T Levels?

T Levels are two-year technical courses taken as an alternative to A Levels, apprenticeships and other 16-19 courses.

A T Level is equivalent to three A levels and comprises a core component and an occupational specialism to give students skills for employment, higher education or apprenticeships.

Students spend 80 per cent of the course at college gaining the skills that employers need. The remaining 20 per cent is on industry placement where they put these skills into action.

They will spend at least 45 days in industry placements to enable them to gain valuable experience in the workplace and give employers an early sight of new talent in their industry.

Why choose a T Level

T Levels have been designed with leading employers and awarding bodies to give students the skills, knowledge and experience they need. More than 250 employers have been involved in their development to give students confidence they will take them to the next level.

What T Levels will be available?

The first T Level courses available at CCCG colleges are listed below with more expected to be added over coming months.

T LEVELOCCUPATIONAL SPECIALISMCOLLEGECENTRE
Digital Production, Design and DevelopmentDigital Production, Design and DevelopmentCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Digital Production, Design and DevelopmentDigital Production, Design and DevelopmentWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
Digital Support ServicesDigital SupportCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Digital Support ServicesDigital SupportWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
Education and ChildcareEarly Years EducatorCANDICentre for Business, Arts and Technology (including Health, Social and Childcare)
Education and ChildcareEarly Years EducatorCONELTottenham Centre
HealthSupporting the Adult Nursing TeamWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
HealthSupporting the Adult Nursing TeamCONELTottenham Centre
HealthSupporting the Mental Health TeamWestKingKing’s Cross Centre
HealthSupporting the Mental Health TeamCONELTottenham Centre
ScienceLaboratory SciencesCANDICentre for Applied Science

Entry requirements

Entry requirements are the same as for A Levels and many other Level 3 courses, which require five GCSEs at grades 9-4 including English and maths. At least a grade 4 in GCSE Science is also required for science and health related T Levels. 

Grading and certification

Students completing their T Level will receive a certificate which will show their overall grade shown as Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction*. 

The certificate will show A*-E grades for the core component, and Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction* for the occupational specialism. It will also confirm they have completed the industry placement and met any other mandatory requirements

Students who do not pass all elements of their T Level will get a T Level statement of achievement that will only show the elements they have completed.

Find our more information about T Levels at CCCG and apply here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Update

Updated: 28 July 2020

We are looking forward to our new and returning students joining us in September 2020. We are currently processing applications and welcoming new ones, so if you are looking to study with us, please browse our website and apply online today. We also have a range of free short courses that you can take part in online, over the summer.

Our Plans for September

The majority of our courses will be delivered from September 2020 in a mixed format – blending online lessons with face-to-face teaching.

We are taking every precaution possible to provide a safe learning environment for you in September 2020 throughout our college buildings, including installing hand sanitisation stations throughout the buildings, one-way systems, alternate timetables and 2 metre social distancing.

Enrolment will begin online from GCSE Results Day, 20 August 2020 – please check back in a few weeks for more information on how to enrol at WestKing. If you haven’t already applied to study with us, you can apply online today – it makes enrolling with us even quicker!

Results for Current Students

Most of our current students will receive their results by email this year, with certificates being issued in the autumn. If you studied A Levels, you will receive an overall grade for each subject, but you will not receive marks for individual papers, as these were not part of the grading process this year.

A paper copy of your results will also be sent to your home address in the week after results day. Details on appealing your results will be in the email along with your grades. Please ensure that all appeals are sent to the appropriate appeals email address along with your full personal details and attach a copy of your results.

Results will have equal status at universities, colleges and employers and will be treated the same as in any other year.

If you’re looking for careers advice and guidance, or help with what to do next, use our live chat service to talk to one of our advisers.

Useful links

Thank you for your continued support and keep safe.

Roy O’Shaughnessy
Capital City College Group, Chief Executive

International Women’s Day 2020: Westminster Kingsway Hospitality students meet the Prime Minister

An all-female team of Westminster Kingsway College Hospitality and Culinary Arts students had an unforgettable experience on Thursday 5 March, when they had the chance to showcase their skills – as well as meet the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a galaxy of famous women – at Number 10 Downing Street.

Number 10 Downing Street

The students prepared and served delicious canapés and drinks to 110 guests at the Prime Minister’s reception to mark International Women’s Day (#IWD2020). At the reception were leading female figures from business, science, sport and other sectors, including double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, the founder of STEMettes Anne-Marie Imafidon, and Collette Roche, the chief operating officer at Manchester United Football Club. Also present were fifty secondary school girls from Year 9, who are due to make their GCSE choices.

In a panel discussion at the event, the Prime Minister and an all-female panel spoke about a range of issues, including the importance of inspiring the next generation of women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields, and the gender pay gap.

The International Women’s Day reception is an annual event at No. 10 and this is the first year that the college has had students working at it. The team of nine students and two members of staff worked with their colleagues at our Victoria Centre’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to overcome some logistical challenges before they faced the novel and high-pressure situation of serving hot food and drinks at one of the world’s most famous addresses.

As Hospitality Lecturer Lindsey Lamont explained: “No. 10 contacted us a few weeks ago asking us if we could provide the food and drinks – and the students to prepare and serve it – for their International Women’s Day reception.

“Because of the nature of the event, they wanted the team to be all-female. We also realised early on that we would need to pre-prepare the food at our Victoria Centre and transport it to Downing Street, for the team to assemble, cook and plate-up in the No. 10 kitchens – which none of us had used before.

“We are always finding ways to prepare our students for the workplaces they will be in when they graduate from the college, so we jumped at the challenge!”

On arrival at Number 10, the students worked in two teams. The kitchen team of culinary students were mentored and supported by Chef Lecturer Miranda Godfrey; they heated and plated the food, which had been made their fellow students at the Victoria Centre. Meanwhile, the front-of-house team of Hospitality students, led by Lindsey Lamont, served drinks and the canapés to the Prime Minister and his guests.

The canapés created and served were:

Savoury

  • Smoked Salmon Roulade
  • Chicken Skewers with a dip
  • Warm Mushroom Tart

Sweet

  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cremeaux
  • Baked Cheesecake
  • Baileys Choux Bun

One of our Professional Chef Diploma students told us: “It was amazing experience working at 10 Downing Street. There were women and girls from all walks of life and it was wonderful to be able to meet them.”

“I’d never been to Number 10 before and it was a great experience for me and the rest of the team”, explained another student. “Although I was busy working, I was able to chat to some of the guests. Quite a few of them asked me about my course and my ambitions for when I leave college.”

Also present was Boris Johnson’s fiancé Carrie Symonds, who is expecting the couple’s first baby in the summer. One of our students who is studying Hospitality and Events told us: “It was nice to see Boris and his fiancé together at the event and great to see her supporting International Women’s Day. Carrie spent time chatting to the schoolgirls, and after the event was over, Boris came to talk to us privately. He shook all our hands and said that he’d loved the food. The whole thing was a brilliant experience.”

Hospitality Lecturer, Lindsey Lamont summed up the event: “There was such a lovely atmosphere there. It really was buzzing at the event and it was fantastic that the Prime Minister took the time to meet us and the students afterwards. We were delighted to be able to give some of our students the opportunity to work at such a high-profile event – what a thing to have on your CV! – and we hope that No. 10 will be calling on us again in the future.”

Paul Jervis, Programme Manager for the Professional Chef Diploma courses at the college, said: “This was an amazing team effort, involving a lot of people. The students were fantastic and, as the people at No. 10 told me afterwards, were real ambassadors for the college.

“Supporting them was a big team of staff and students back at our Victoria Centre, who devised, prepared and created the dishes. A big thanks to Norman Fu and his students who prepared the savoury canapés, and to Sue Yeates and her students, who did the sweet ones. I’d also like to thank everyone who held the fort back at the college, while their colleagues worked at the event.

“Our location in the heart of London and our fantastic contacts in the industry, mean that we can offer our students a host of amazing career development opportunities – not just working at big events, but also doing work placements in Michelin-starred kitchens and the opportunity to work in the college’s own high-quality public restaurants, which are rated in the top 120 of London’s 19,000 restaurants on TripAdvisor. These opportunities are one of the things that sets us apart from other culinary schools and catering colleges.”