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 18 March 2018 (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 from December 2017 for the 2018 intake.

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. Most of the deadlines for applications are in December 2017. Also currently advertising a Markets Insight Game.

BDO – Insight Days- Ipswich 21 November, Birmingham 28 November, London 12 December.

BlackRock – applications are now open for the EMEA spring insight programme offering an overview of the investment management industry and the opportunity to be fast tracked to the summer programme. Application deadline on 3 December 2017.

BNP Paribas – one week spring insight programme in the London office offering an insight into Global Markets. Also offer Discovery Days each year.

Citi Group – Spring insight programme in London. The closing date is 12 January 2018.

Credit Suisse – currently advertising their 2018 Insights including Winter and Spring. No closing date available.

Deloitte – Spring into Deloitte, a two day residential course covering areas including tax, leadership or career choices at Deloitte. Applications open in November 2017 and close on 31 December 2017 so apply November for the April 2018 programmes.

Deutsche Bank – db Discover offers a range of ‘Spring into’ programmes covering areas including IT, global banking, IB, corporate finance etc. Deadline in January 2018.

EY – offers two Discover EY two day programmes in April 2018 in audit and tax aimed at first year students. Limited places so apply early, and application closes on 30 November 2017.

Goldman Sachs – two week spring internship program aimed at first years and covering different divisions. The closing date is 3 January 2018.

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 14 January 2018.

ICAP – one week industry insight in summer 2018 in either London or New York.

JP Morgan – different week-long events covering areas including markets, asset management, investment banking, technology and risk. The closing date is 26 November 2017.

KPMG – offer two to five day insight programmes or weeks. No dates available yet.

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 10 December 2017. There’s also a four day Technology programme with a closing date of 7 January 2018. 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 two week Women’s Immersion. Opportunity to be fast-tracked. The closing date is 14 January 2018.

PwC – two day Talent Academy in Assurance or Tax, as well as a three day Tech Academy and a three day Women in Tech placement. Applications close on 1 December 2017.

Rothschild – first year spring insight in Global Advisory Spring Insight. Closing date is 31 December 2017.

RBS – insight days and Dine & Discover events. 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 2018.

UBS – Talent Lab, a three day programme to learn about key business areas, strategy, culture and values. The closing date for the London programme is 31 January 2018.

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 29 January 2018.

Siemens – three month summer internship scheme for first years studying business.

Unilever – two day spring 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 three month internships open to 1st year students. Applications close on 29 December 2017.

Diversity programmes

SEO London – first year programmes and support for first year ethnic minority undergraduates keen to learn more about investment banking, corporate law or professional services. 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.