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London Intern 23 | Work experience and mentoring for 16-18 year olds

Maddie Brindley-Slater
23 August 2023

What was London Intern 23?

In the Spring of 2023, Kantar, IBM, Hays, Efficio and Wiseup Networks partnered to provide a mentoring and work experience programme for 25 sixth form students from South Bank University Academy in London.

London Intern 23’s mission was to provide unprecedented insight to the world of work for 16-18 year olds without barriers to entry. Through the power of mentoring and hands-on work experience, the programme aimed to increase industry knowledge, provide insight into the social norms of the workplace, challenge perceived correlations between socio-economic background and career prospects, develop critical employability skills, establish a young person’s first professional network and ultimately improve the confidence and ambition of the next generation.

How did it work?

On the mentoring and work experience programme, each student had the opportunity to take part in:

  • One-to-one mentoring sessions with a mentor from one of the participating companies
  • 1 week of work experience at the office’s of their mentor’s company
  • Workshops delivered by Kantar, IBM, Hays and Efficio on all things procurement and employability

Wiseup Networks provided mentorship training for members of staff at Kantar, IBM, Hays and Efficio to prepare them for supporting 16-17 year old mentees in the one-to-one sessions.

A total of 82 hours of one-to-one mentoring, both in-person and virtually, took place over the programme – giving the opportunity for students to create trust and rapport with the first ever contact in their professional network.

In the middle of the mentoring sessions, the students visited their mentor’s company for a curated week of hands-on activity; shadowing members of staff, attending talks by senior leaders, taking part in workshops from all 4 of the participating companies, giving presentations and networking.


What did we find?

Before the programme, despite many of the students studying Business A levels and BTECs, there was a clear perception amongst the group that certain career paths and companies were not something they could aspire to because of their socio-economic background and self-confidence.

Following the programme:

  • 94% of the students felt more confident about starting their career
  • When asked what their mentor helped them with most, the students touched on the following themes:
    • Gave greater awareness of their real career options
    • Prepared them for starting their career
    • Helped them make new professional contacts
    • Identified their strengths and developed new skills

When asked what they enjoyed most about the programme, the students highlighted:

  • Being made to feel at ease about their career
  • It highlighted entry routes into industry
  • Creating relationships with professionals
  • Listening to talks from members of staff
  • Developing workplace skills

Each student created their first LinkedIn profile on the programme, and across the group they amassed:

  • 435 connections
  • 248 engagement activities on their posts (reactions and comments)

Most notably, the students were asked to give feedback on the programme and a selection of their answers demonstrate the transformative experience they went through:

“My mentor has helped me understand that the field of work is not as intimidating as I thought.”

“They helped me improve as a person and opened my eyes towards life and the world.”

“I felt very comfortable with my mentor, like we can talk about anything and I don’t feel nervous. She really helps me explore my options and ask any questions I want.”

“I’m more certain of what sector I would like to go into. I was also uncertain about my path after sixth form, but she has helped me educate myself in all paths.”

“The mentoring was very helpful in terms of increasing my knowledge in the tech industry and upskilling me in several areas.”


What’s next?

As the name of the programme suggests, London Intern 23 is not the end. Preparations have begun for London Intern 24, where we are doubling the number of students to support 50 young people from several schools in London.

If you’re interested in joining us on this journey, whether it be this year or in the future – please get in touch!

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