Get ahead with careers sessions: Ideas for NCW, work experience & more

Plan sessions for National Careers Week and beyond – see examples of meaningful employer encounters in schools across the country, and find out how to replicate these while meeting Gatsby Benchmarks.

New to Inspiring the Future? We’re a free service connecting UK state schools and colleges with inspiring role models from the world of work. You can create in-person and virtual activities to connect with local volunteers, or those further afield. Sign up here – it’s free and it takes just a couple of minutes.

Career insights

Career insights talks are a versatile way to explore the world of work with students. A school in Hertfordshire is inviting two volunteers to speak about how they use languages in the workplace, supporting students to explore the value of different subjects before choosing their GCSE options. In Tyneside, students will have the chance to quiz volunteers on their various routes to success with a Q&A session on key skills and advice for their 16-year-old self. A school in Wimbledon is organising a series of live talks from volunteers across sectors, as well as short pre-recorded videos that can be used flexibly according to schedules.

Consider planning insights talks around upcoming awareness days, such as International Women’s Day and World Maths Day. There are thousands of volunteers in a wide range of jobs on Inspiring the Future, ready and waiting for your invite.

Meets Gatsby Benchmark 5: Encounters with employers. If subject-focused, you can also meet Gatsby Benchmark 4: Linking curriculum learning to careers.

Plan a similar activity:

  1. Log into your portal or sign up, click ‘Manage Opportunities’ on your homepage, then ‘Create New Opportunity & Invite’.
  2. Input the details about your activity – the aims of the session, number of volunteers required, whether it’s virtual or in-person, year groups taking part. It’s good to include as much info as possible in activity descriptions so volunteers know what to expect, including school background and student needs.
  3. Click ‘Save and find volunteers’ at the bottom right of the page
  4. You can now invite volunteers by using the map for local role models, or by selecting ‘Virtual volunteers’ and clicking on the ‘List’ view. You can tailor invites to your students’ interests and future career ambitions by searching by sector, relevant subjects and job title to narrow your search.
  5. Keep an eye on replies from volunteers, and get in touch with those who accept your invitation to give them any additional information before your activity.

Work experience

In preparation for summer work experience, schools and colleges are seeking employers who can support students to gain insight into the workplace in sectors of interest. A college has invited volunteers to host science students over a 2-week period, with the opportunity tailored to the employer’s availability and a choice of an in-person, virtual or blended experience. In London, a school is looking for volunteers across sectors to provide their students with 2-5 days of work experience, with their invitation focusing on students’ ambition and willingness to work hard, and the impact this would have on their aspirations.

Meets Gatsby Benchmark 6: Experiences of workplaces

Plan a similar activity:

  • Follow the steps above to ‘Save and find volunteers’
  • Allow for employers’ flexibility, and consider non-traditional approaches to work experience, such as virtual tasks
  • Share information about your students’ aims and how much they will get out of work experience – it’s a bigger commitment for employers than a careers talk, so they may want to know more before accepting your invitation.
  • You can also access our guide to virtual experiences of the workplace to get started

Mock interviews

Students can gain valuable interview experience with volunteers from different sectors through these 1:1 sessions. Whether taking place virtually or in-person, mock interviews are a brilliant way for older pupils to find out about the kinds of questions they may be asked in job interviews or further education interviews and practice in a friendly, supportive environment. Schools in Kirklees, Leeds and Buckinghamshire have organised 10-20 minute interviews for their students, with written feedback provided by the volunteers on each student’s answers and approach.

Meets Gatsby Benchmark 3: Meeting the needs of each pupil

Plan a similar activity:

  • Follow the steps above to ‘Save and find volunteers’
  • Search by ‘Recruitment skills’ under ‘Other Specialist Topics’ to find volunteers who can share their knowledge with students
  • Ask students to share their CVs with volunteers beforehand to allow volunteers to prepare for the interview and help students get as much as possible out of the session

Need support planning your activity? You can book a free planning call with our team – feel free to get in touch.


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