For many students, the summer vacation is a time to take a break from their studies, relax a little and maybe take a holiday. Not so for a group of students from London South East Colleges’ Business BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma based at Orpington. For six whole weeks, Nour, Julia, Matthew and Tatyana donned their business suits and headed to work with some of the capital’s largest employers.

All four are members of the Career Ready programme that links employers with schools and colleges to open up the world of work to young people. It offers them employer engagement, a paid internship and professional mentoring to help develop real insight into a range of careers in the business, commercial and financial sectors.

Nour, 19 from Orpington, went to work at Citibank in their 42-story HQ in Canary Wharf and was given the opportunity to look after ‘platinum’ personal and corporate clients in the client facilitation service. She said: “I worked on a project to update client databases, take part in the planning of client events and was placed in a number of other ‘taster’ roles in their marketing, HR and legal departments. The weeks flew by and I learnt such a lot about the workings of a major international bank and the financial services it offers.”

Julia, 17 from Catford, spent her internship with Aviva Insurance in London Bridge. Her first two weeks were spent in the group risk office and the remainder of her time in the finance service. She said: “I was put to work on a major research project they were carrying out into their competitors in both Europe and Asia. From the start, I really felt like I was engaging in important, meaningful work and I was given lots of training. All of the people I worked alongside gave me lots of support and helped me to understand everything I was exposed to.”

Matthew, 18 from Bromley, went to work with Citi Private Bank’s discretionary team. They deal primarily with clients who bank over £25 million. He said: “I don’t know why but I thought I’d probably spend my first day photocopying or filing. I couldn’t believe it when I was asked to take part in research into political and financial instability in various countries and how that could affect their clients’ interests. I also carried out portfolio reviews and prepared PowerPoint presentations. I loved the whole experience and have come away much more knowledgeable about the sector I would like to work in once I have graduated from university.”

Tatyana, 17 from Dulwich, did her internship at Travelodge, Southwark. She took part in reception duties, taking bookings and payments, customer service, quality checking and general hotel management. Her employers were so impressed with her attitude and abilities that she has been asked to stay on a part-time basis. She said: “It was just the best experience I could have had and I was made to feel so comfortable by the staff who looked after me. Career Ready has been a brilliant programme and has given me confidence and optimism about my future. I would recommend it to anyone.”

Business tutor, Janet McDowell, prepared her students well for their roles over the summer. She said: “Career Ready puts students right into the heart of a functioning business environment and provides high levels of support and training for up to six weeks. It is a ‘must’ for any young person serious about their future in the world of business. It is more than just a work experience; it provides each student with their own personal mentor who provides one-to-one advice and access to lots of networking opportunities.”


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