If you want a career in this exciting industry, here’s everything you need to know about gaining work experience in year 10.
Overview of technology
What is technology?
We live in an age where technology is a seamless part of all of our lives.
Most of us use technology in multiple ways on a daily basis and don’t think twice about it.
Think about the devices you use. Everything from smartphones to laptops and tablets, smart TVs and even the contactless bank cards you use.
All of these devices have rapidly gone from being brand new to being things we take for granted. Take the original iPhone for example.
The iconic first version of the device was released by US tech giant Apple in 2007. That’s less than ten years ago, yet it seems like the gadget has already been around forever.
The rapid development and improvement of technology is also something we’ve come to expect. Again, using the iPhone as an example.
Despite only having existed for about a decade there have been seven different generations of the iPhone. This is with multiple different versions of the phone existing in each of those generations.
— Next Tech Girls (@NextTechGirls) November 11, 2016
This is only one product released by one company. But it’s an example and development / release cycle that’s become synonymous with the entire technology industry.
Tech is a sector that is growing at such a rapid rate. It’s quite difficult to fully summarise all of the different areas and companies that fall under the banner of ‘tech’.
This is because you can look at it in two different ways.
There are those organisations that are tech-based, meaning that they are primarily technology companies. The most famous examples being the likes of Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, etc.
Then there are those organisations that are not primarily focused on technology, such as banks and retailers, but which have huge tech departments in order to modernise their processes and cope with demands.
Careers in tech
As already mentioned, the technology sector is expanding at a tremendous rate. With the release of new technologies comes the need for people who understand them and can use them.
Many of the tech job market roles that exist now simply didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Charlene Laidley: “Dream BIG. Ask more of yourself than anyone would ever expect of you.”
Below are career paths in tech that you could expect to work in in the next few years.
- Software engineer: essentially every piece of modern technology you use relies on software in order to function. The term software refers to the systems and programmes that exist within a piece of hardware (such as a phone or PC). Software engineers are the ones who plan, design and create these systems.
- Systems analyst: while many organisations have IT systems in place, it doesn’t mean they’re always as efficient as they can be. This is where systems analysts come in. These professionals look into a company’s IT infrastructure and processes, and work out how they can be improved in order to maximise efficiency.
- Technical support: while systems analysts may look at an organisation’s overall IT infrastructure and work out how to improve its overall effectiveness, technical support analysts are more likely to look after a business’s day-to-day IT operations and individual technical issues, to make sure that team members can work unhindered.
- Information technology (IT) / technical consultant: there’s a lot of demand for people with technical knowledge and great business skills who can provide companies with expert advice. Consultants often spend time working with clients to complete a specific project, which could include making the existing systems and processes more efficient, or overhauling the systems completely and implementing new technology.
- Web developer: many companies need a strong online presence to help them stand out from the competition and provide their customers with a great, intuitive experience. Web developers / designers help them to do this by creating websites that look good, work well, are easy to use, and provide all the content that users require.
- Cyber security specialist: with more and more people using the internet for things like banking and buying products, there’s also been a significant increase in cybercrime and digital attacks that are designed to steal people’s valuable information. Cyber security professionals help companies to avoid these damaging attacks and protect their customers’ details.
- Data scientist: the amount of data that exists is growing quickly, with 90% of the data that exists globally today having been created in just the last few years. This growth is only going to continue. Data scientists are tasked with analysing this huge amount of data and using it to help governments and businesses make informed decisions.
The future of science and technology
The problem with the technology industry is that it’s difficult to predict what path it will take. Of course, predicting anything that’s going to happen in the future is largely impossible. It’s more or less a complete guessing game.
But tech is especially hard to predict, simply because it moves so quickly and is constantly changing and developing. There’s currently a lot of work being done on robotics, virtual reality, the internet of things (IoT) and machine learning.
These are the areas expected to grow and further revolutionise society. Anyone with skills, knowledge and experience in these areas will be in demand in the coming years. Don’t be surprised if you see jobs for the likes of machine learning specialist, virtual reality engineer and IoT architect.
What’s a technology internship?
Work experience in IT is a period of time that you can spend working at a company and gaining experience of what it’s like to be part of a professional organisation. They are intended to act as sort of ‘taster’, so that you can see what the world of work is like and try your hand at different things.
It’s a good idea to start gaining year 10 work experience as soon as you are able to, before you finish school, so that you can begin to develop the mindset and skills that are required in order to succeed in your career.
While on internships in IT companies, you’ll be treated in the same way as any other employee would be, and you’ll be expected to act professionally and contribute towards the company’s projects.
How long do work experience opportunities in London last?
As internships in IT companies are designed to provide you with ‘work experience’ and normally take place while you’re still at school or in education, they generally take the form of one or two week year 10 work experience placements.
This gives you enough time to take part in various projects, meet a lot of different team members and also probably spend time working in different departments too, giving you as much exposure as possible to the working environment.
— Next Tech Girls (@NextTechGirls) November 8, 2016
The reason why they only last for a week or two is so that they can fit around your studies but still offer you a real insight into what it’s like to work for a professional organisation.
However, it’s also possible to take part in work shadowing programmes, which may only last for a few days. Really it all depends on the organisation that’s offering the year 10 work experience placements.
What will you be doing on student work experience in London?
There’s not really one definitive answer for what you’ll be doing on year 10 work experience placements, as it all depends on which company you work for and what the company does. For example, Georgiana, one of our previous Next Tech Girls, spent time working at Virgin Money in their IT security and social media teams. You can see her video here.
“The experience definitely makes me look forward to a future in IT, especially since I am part of the Next Tech Girls experience. This is a programme designed to introduce more females in the IT work industry by giving more young girls a chance to explore the vast world of technology and acquire a better understanding of the benefits involved.” Georgiana, Next Tech Girl at Virgin Money (2016)
What are the benefits of internships in IT companies
There are many benefits that stem from completing work experience in IT for 16 year olds, regardless of how long the experience itself is. One of the main benefits is that you get relevant experience, which can be included on your CV, showing potential future employers that you have spent time working in a real, professional environment.
The reason why employers like to see this is because it shows that you have an idea of what to do and how to act in a working environment. This means that it’s less of a risk for them to hire you.
Another of the benefits of completing tech experience is that it helps you to develop, both personally and professionally. Spending time working on different projects will give you the chance to learn new skills. You’ll also meet new people and learn from them.
Being part of a working atmosphere, even if it’s only for a relatively short amount of time, will benefit you. It gives you exposure to the world of work – something that’s very different from an educational environment.
By spending time around new people and working with them, you also get to build a network of industry contacts. These people can offer you valuable advice and insights that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find out about. There’s no doubt that IT work experience in London can increase your chances of getting hired in technology.
Shauna Jones: “You can do anything regardless of your background if you are passionate and ambitious enough.”
Where to find internships in technology
We are working with a lot of different companies in order to help them develop their IT work experience in London for 16 year olds and make them as good as they can be. You can see some of our supporters on our How to Support page, while we have also listed a few of the employers offering year 10 work experience placements below:
Companies that offer work experience placements
- Financial Times
- Department for Work & Pensions
- Aberdeen Asset Management
- Virgin Money
- Centrica Connected Homes
This list will only continue to grow.
Make sure you keep an eye out for opportunities with the UK’s top employers and how to apply.
Why should you do work experience in IT?
It’s becoming more and more important to have some kind of work experience in the bag before you leave education. Whether that’s school, sixth form or university. The reason for this is because there’s so much competition for entry-level and graduate jobs now. Employers get bombarded with hundreds of competing CVs that are shouting for attention.
Anything that can help you stand out from the crowd and show that you have relevant skills and experience will be hugely helpful for your chances of success.
It’s a really good idea to get involved in work experience for 14 – 19 year olds as soon as you can. This will instantly give you an advantage over other students who aren’t doing work experience in year 10.
Computer science internships
What is computer science?
Computer science is a somewhat vague-sounding term. But it’s an absolutely crucial part of modern technology and the advances being made in computing. It’s also an extremely broad area. It’s only likely to become broader still as technology is increasingly used in all areas of society.
For many people, the way they use technology on a daily basis is largely superficial. By which we mean it is only used on a surface-level. People may use phone apps for work or entertainment and they may use a laptop for browsing.
While they may understand how to use technological devices, they may not necessarily understand how the technology itself works. Computer scientists, on the other hand, will have an understanding of how it functions and the processes behind it.
— Next Tech Girls (@NextTechGirls) November 4, 2016
They will have knowledge about how the programming languages work, how the device interacts with other connected devices and the wider internet, and the theoretical thinking behind the technology and software.
This could include every step involved in actually creating computing systems. Such as identifying problems and opportunities, planning and design, development, testing, delivery and use.
This is why there’s no one single definition of what a computer scientist is. They work in so many diverse areas.
People in computer science careers can work on everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to cyber security. Or software engineering to machine learning.
The knowledge and skills that computer scientists have will always be relevant. The need for computer scientists will always exist now that technology is part of all of our lives.
Why should you do computer science work experience?
There are good reasons why you should study a computer science degree or gain experience relevant to computer science. As alluded to above, this is an area that is only going to continue growing as time goes by.
The tech sector already supports more than 1.5m jobs in the UK alone and contributes billions to the country’s economy. However, it’s also clear that a skills gap currently exists in the technology market, with demand already outstripping supply. This gap is expected to grow.
As reported in ComputerWeekly.com, IT “is currently suffering from a lack of skilled workers, with the number of unfilled digital jobs in Europe forecasted to reach 756,000 by 2020”.
Those in the industry are worried by the impact that a shortage of skilled professionals could have on their businesses. It also means there’s a great opportunity for you to develop a future career in technology.
“According to recent statistics, the UK’s thriving digital industry is now worth £161bn to the economy and supports more than 1.5m jobs. What’s more, the UK has the largest digital economy as a percentage of GDP in the G20, with expected growth of 15% next year.” We Are The City (2016)
If you have the right skills and attitude – skills that employers desperately want – then there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to walk into a job in the coming years.
The skills you’ll gain from working in computer science are not just relevant to careers in technology though. By taking part in an internship in IT companies, you’ll also gain wider business skills.
The vast majority of professionals working now are expected to have some kind of digital knowledge and expertise. There isn’t really such a thing as a ‘non-tech’ role anymore, regardless of which sector you work in.
What can I do with computer science / information technology (IT) experience?
Examples of computer science careers
Careers that you can go into after gaining work experience in IT include:
- Game developer
- User experience (UX) analyst
- Business analyst
- Database administrator
- Computer programmer
- Frontend developer / backend developer
Among many others.
Game development – according to Newzoo, the global video games market will be worth a whopping $99.6bn in 2016. It’s predicted that the industry’s value will continue to grow in the next few years and become more lucrative. Companies are likely to pursue growth and expand their teams capitalise on consumer demand, leading to the creation of jobs. People with computer science experience would be well-placed to fill these roles and work in the sector.
— DWP Digital (@DWPDigital) November 15, 2016
User experience analyst – user experience, commonly known as UX, is another one of those areas that is relatively new within the digital sphere. While the World Wide Web has existed since 1989, for many years the websites themselves were basic and much more primitive and simplistic than what we have now, and what we’ve become used to. It’s only really been since the mid to late 2000s that website design and usability has become an area of major focus. This is because internet and browsing technology has advanced a lot since the early WWW days, and so many more sites exist that are competing for your attention. UX analysts combine analytical and design skills, in order to provide website users with a seamless experience that helps them find what they need to easily.
Business analyst – business analysis is more of a consultative than strictly technical area, but there’s no doubt that the role has changed a lot during the digital era. For instance, analysing data will always have been a major aspect of this role, but now that data collection and storage capabilities have advanced greatly, analysts need to be better at understanding data and vast amounts of information than ever before. Other aspects of this role that require good technical understanding and awareness include the ability to identify problem areas and plan and create technical solutions that increase efficiency.
Database administrator – as already discussed, in many ways the digital era is also the data era. The vast majority of companies – the largest, but also the smallest – need to store information about their clients and customers in an easily-accessible way, which is why many now use databases to do so. This has led to the emergence of the database administrator, a role that requires solid technical knowledge. Database administrators are trusted with the important task of ensuring that an organisation’s database works efficiently, is secure from cyber-attacks and hacking, and is scalable as more information is stored.
Computer programmer / frontend developer / backend developer – in many ways, programming is the bedrock on which technology is built. Without programmers and developers, the industry simply wouldn’t be what it is today. Programmers use computer code, otherwise known as coding languages, to ‘write’ programmes and scripts that allow software and hardware to work properly. Writing code is similar to a scientific process, in that it is often a case of hypothesising a result, experimentation and trial and error. It’s this principle that largely underpins the idea of computer science – understanding computer systems and networks at a deep level in order to use the technology effectively.
Are you a woman in tech?
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We hope you found this guide on IT work experience opportunities in London useful. Remember to check out our other guides too for more advice on year 10 work experience in IT. Thanks for reading!