Where can I get chemistry-related work experience?
It can be hard to get chemistry-related work experience, especially in labs but companies and universities really like students who have the enthusiasm and drive to hunt for a relevant position. Below are some ideas to support your search:
You should keep in mind that it is likely you will not be doing any vital or important tasks during your work experience. Work experience is a great learning experience, and your efforts and interest will not go unnoticed by potential employers and referees for your CV. It is also a good idea to maintain contact with the people you’ve met even after you leave. This can be via email, phone or social media. They may have future job vacancies or be able to help you in some other way.
Whilst the majority of employers will follow employment law, it’s important to be aware of your own rights when it comes to work experience, placements or internships.
The Royal Society of Chemistry does not provide work experience or shadowing opportunities. However, your nearest Royal Society of Chemistry Local Section (of which there are 35 throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland) may be able to offer advice on how to find placements in your area.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many work experience schemes have been paused or shortened but many new virtual work experience opportunities are appearing. Learning more about the world of work and the skills needed has never been more important.
Below are a few places where you can access virtual work experiences. Also doing a regular internet search for ‘virtual work experience’ will also help discover new schemes as they become established:
It is sometimes easier to ask for work shadowing opportunities, rather than hands-on work experience. Work shadowing is usually a shorter experience where someone shows you what they do rather than you doing the work. This is still a good opportunity as it allows you to experience the workplace and ask questions about what their day is like, who they work with and why they enjoy their job. Even if a company are not able to offer work experience, you can still ask if you can speak with someone outside of the lab so they can answer your questions.
Source: SolStock / E+ / Getty Images
If you aren’t able to find a suitable chemistry-related work experience, placement or shadowing there are alternatives such as volunteering or other science related work that can still provide practical skills and allow you to explore other futures. Consider volunteering at your local science festival or science centre to see what they offer. The British Science Association offer a variety of roles for volunteers as well as one week’s work experience at their offices for low-income individuals. If you’re interested in science communication then volunteering and work experience is very important. The social mobility fund (SMF) aims to support young people from low-income backgrounds through specific advice, guidance and by arranging paid internships with companies like EDF Energy and Rolls Royce.