With Michaelmas Term now well underway many LSE students are already focusing on the holidays, exams and beyond! LSE Careers is open to all students of any year group and at any stage in your career. We’re always very happy to speak with first year students and have been seeing some of you over the past few weeks. Question topics include: When is a good time to start thinking about my future? What things can I be doing to make myself more employable? How do I find out about different career areas and what is going to suit me?

More and more employers are recognising the importance of enabling students find out first hand what they do and are engaging with students much earlier in their time at university. One way they do this is through spring weeks and insight programmes specifically for first year undergraduates. Banks and professional service firms have typically been the main source of these opportunities but law firms and other companies like Accenture, BP and Unilever are also now offering taster and discovery days. The Bank of England has gone one step further and is offering an internship programme specifically for first year students.

Do remember it’s only larger companies, and particularly those from the sectors mentioned here, that offer spring weeks and insight days. Employers in areas including marketing, media, charity and environmental work don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage with them or get work experience. You just need to go about looking for opportunities in a different way. There are some suggestions below.

What is a Spring Week or Insight Programme and what’s involved?

These are structured programmes lasting anything between 1-2 days to a week to give you an insight into different areas of a firm’s operation. This may be quite broad covering a range of areas, or be focused on one particular business line or division such as investment banking. Typically you’ll get the opportunity to listen and take part in presentations, skills seminars, interactive workshops, group activities and work shadowing. There are also likely to be some social events and networking opportunities where you can talk to recent graduates and interns about the work they do. As well as being an opportunity to find out more about a company and if the work will suit you, some are also used to identify talent and as a feeder to their internship programmes.

Later in this blog are a selection of opportunities across banking, professional services and industry which are open to first years. Some are also open to second years and master’s students too. Remember the list isn’t definitive and dates or details may change. It’s also very competitive and so we advise you to do your own research both into these opportunities and to identify other opportunities and work shadowing.

Our key advice is to apply as early as possible and don’t wait for deadlines. In most cases we have linked to a UK or Europe website but you may be able to apply for other regions of the world as well. Make sure to check company websites carefully for all the details.

Alternatives to Spring Weeks or Insight Programmes

If you’re not interested in the large organisations and sectors listed here, how do you go about getting work experience or finding out what a career here might involve? Many advertised internship schemes are primarily targeted at second year students, but as a keen first year it’s always worth asking the recruiter whether you’d be eligible to apply or if there are any alternative ways of getting some work experience, for example through work shadowing.

You also need to be aware that the vast majority of companies don’t advertise work experience opportunities. If there’s an organisation you’re interested in and there isn’t a careers section on their website then it’s definitely worth making a speculative application and seeing if you can arrange some work experience yourself. Come and speak to a careers consultant to discuss your strategy and the different ways you can get experience, and check out the LSE Careers website for advice on how to make speculative applications.

Banking and finance sectors

It’s important to know that some organisations welcome applications from students interested in working in these sectors even if they’re not undertaking a related degree.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch – week-long placements designed to increase your knowledge of the financial markets. You also take part in interactive case studies. The closing date is 7 January 2016 (for first years).

Bank of England – first year internships that run for six weeks giving you the opportunity to support a team on a specific project across all areas of the Bank, from procurement or HR to monetary policy and banking supervision. Apply by the end of January 2016.

Barclays – generally offer a week-long experience across a range of banking and markets areas. Spring Analyst Programme is now open for applications with opportunities including Front Office, Functions and Technology. The deadline for applications is 16 December 2016. Also currently advertising a Markets Insight Game.

BDO – Insight Days- Ipswich 24 October, Guildford 25 October.

BlackRock – applications are now open for the EMEA insight programme offering an overview of the investment management industry and the opportunity to be fast tracked to the summer programme.

BNP Paribas – one week spring insight programme in the London office offering an insight into Global Markets. The closing date is 30 November 2016. Also offer 2017 Discovery Days but these will open early 2017.

Citi Group – have previously offered two different one week spring programmes, no details currently available.

Credit Suisse – currently advertising their 2017 Insights including Winter and Spring. No closing date available.

Deloitte – Spring into Deloitte, a two day residential course covering areas including technology and tax. Applications open in November 2016 so apply November for the February 2017 programme.

Deutsche Bank – db Discover offers a range of ‘Spring into’ programmes covering areas including IT, global banking, IB, corporate finance etc. Deadline 15 January 2017.

EY – offers Intro EY open days and evenings, a four day Leadership Academy and a Discover EY two day programme in audit and tax aimed at first year students. 1 day programmes run in December. Limited places so apply early.

Goldman Sachs – two week spring internship program aimed at first years and covering different divisions. The closing date is 4 January 2017.

HSBC – spring insight four day event across global banking and markets, private banking and global asset management. Applications are now open and the closing date is 15 January 2017. Also applications are open for eight week summer internships for first years offering placements in retail banking and wealth management. The closing date is 28 February 2017 (latest).

ICAP – one week industry insight in June in either London or New York. The closing date is 27 February 2017.

JP Morgan – different week-long events covering areas including markets, asset management, investment banking, technology and risk. The closing date is 27 November 2016.

KPMG – offer a two day insight programme. If interested, then you need to join the KPMG Smart Network to hear about it.

Morgan Stanley – one week Spring Insight Programme gives an overview of the Institutional Securities Group (ISG), including investment banking, Global Capital Markets (GCM), sales and trading, equity research and real estate investing. The closing date is 12 December 2016. There’s also a Technology programme with a closing date of 8 January 2017. Open days and various diversity events are also open to first year students.

Nomura – four day explore Nomura insight programme giving an insight across Investment Banking, Global Markets and Corporate Infrastructure divisions. Also four day Discover Technology and two week Women’s Immersion. Opportunity to be fast-tracked. The closing date is 15 January 2017.

PwC – two day Talent Academy in Assurance or Tax. No closing deadlines given. Rolling recruitment.

Rothschild – first year spring insight in Global Advisory Spring Insight. Closing date is 25 December 2016.

RBS – female insight week. You can learn about career options with RBS, network with and shadow current graduates, and get involved in different sessions. Applications are now open.

Towers Watson – annual insight day held in April. Recommend submit applications as soon as possible.  Closing date given is 31 January 2017.

UBS – an opportunity to learn about key business areas, strategy, culture and values. The closing date for the London programme is 31 December 2016.

Other sectors

BP – offers several insight programmes including a range of Discovery Days, a Sales and Trading Discovery Weeks and shadowing programmes. Applications opened in September and close 30 January 2017.

Siemens – summer internship scheme for first years studying business.

Unilever – three day programme including a selection day for the summer and industrial programme placements. Programmes are in a range of business areas including financial management. Open to all degree disciplines. Applications open now.

Enterprise-Rent-a-Car – offer paid internships open to 1st year students.

Diversity programmes

SEO London – its first year fast-track scheme is for first year ethnic minority undergraduates keen to learn more about investment banking, corporate law and professional services. You also get the opportunity to be fast tracked for internships with partner firms. Open now.

Target graduate recruitment events – various insight days in areas including law, banking and technology. some of which are suitable for first year students. Examples include a day in the city, women in investment banking and city law.