Our most successful internship projects here at ADC College - for example when students stay in touch with friends in London or arrange to return to their placement company for a summer job - depend on a few different things. Firstly, it’s important that our team at ADC deliver placements that match your students’ field of study, level of English and past experience, and secondly, that the participants are well prepared and have received information about the programme in advance. None of the previous points matter, however, if the students are unmotivated or reluctant to engage, which means this is one of the most important factors in the whole process of planning a work experience project abroad.
But where to start? We understand that energy and resources tend to be drained by the many other practicalities of putting together a mobility project. We therefore suggest implementing a few structural changes to your planning that will greatly enhance the value of your students’ time in London.
1. Inform your students about the opportunity
Before selecting students who are particularly motivated, it is a good idea to have an information day at school about the programme. This gives you the opportunity to discuss cultural diversity and the joys of travelling somewhere new and learning about a new country from the inside. The positive professional aspects are also important to include, such as how this can improve your students’ chances of securing a job after graduation or what it means for their development as independent-minded individuals. Some students worry about simple arrangements, such as “Where will I live?”, “Can I live with a friend?” or “How do I use public transport?” If you’re unsure about answering these kind of questions, you could ask your students to write their queries down a week or so before, so that you have time to talk to us or do research ahead of the seminar.
2. Select students on account of motivation rather than grades.
When you select students who will participate in the programme, make sure you look at their level of motivation and ability to adapt to new environments, rather than their grades or level of English. A student who is excited about going to a different country will most likely make much more of the experience than someone who feels forced or obliged to take part. A student with excellent English grades is not necessarily more qualified than someone who has a part time job and is passionate about developing in their field. A good way to handle the selection process is by asking your students to write an application letter, where they outline 1. Why they would like to participate, 2. What makes them a good candidate and 3. What they think this experience will bring to their lives. If the group is smaller than 10 people, you might want to consider interviewing the students who would like to take part.
3. Engage teachers and parents in the project.
It’s difficult to carry the expectations of a project like this on your shoulders alone. Why not involve others? What are your students’ strengths and weaknesses? Perhaps they have plenty of practical experience, while their English level or cultural knowledge is on the low side. If so, you might want to engage an English teacher and schedule lessons focussed on London or British culture. If your students have plenty of theoretical knowledge, but little experience of work, you might want to involve vocational teachers and discuss how an office or work environment is dependent on collaboration and communication and how the British job market differs from your country’s. Giving your students practical exercises or group assignments will help demonstrate your points. If a student shows less engagement, involving their parents might be necessary to help them take it more seriously or get over their pre-project nerves.
4. Let your students shape the project.
Your students are more likely to look forward to the trip if they feel involved. So why not let them suggest excursions around London? Would they like to watch a musical or play? Would they rather visit The National Portrait Gallery or British Museum? If you are restrained by costs, there are plenty of free alternatives to choose from.
5. Long term goals.
The practical organisation of a work experience project can sometimes overshadow its goals. Remind your students how valuable an experience like this is and get them thinking about how it can improve their future chances or inspire them as individuals. Suggest that they choose a personal assignment, like the projects we have outlined in this article, which might inspire them to think more comprehensively about their lives and futures and the choices they make along the way. Perhaps they are interested in travelling and meeting new people. Perhaps they are already en route to becoming a chef or hairdresser and would like to learn new skills in an environment that differs from their own. Or perhaps they are busy being teenagers/young adults and are looking forward to going away with their friends. It doesn't matter where they are in their lives, as long as they stay curious and excited about what lies ahead.
Would you like to participate in our Internship Programme? Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send us a message.