Engineering – Boost your Personal Statement

What to do when work experience isn’t an option

So you’re considering studying engineering at university and you were hoping to get some relevant work experience to give you that added extra to include in your UCAS personal statement.  Finding a placement in engineering can be challenging at the best of times, let alone in the current situation but don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do instead!

Here are some alternatives you may wish to consider to help bolster your engineering personal statement.

Virtual Work Experience

Virtual Work Experience or VWEX has become a bit of a buzzword of late.  If you’re interested in something design and technology based, The Placed Digital Academy, is offering a 10-week programme for students aged 14 to 18 which includes the opportunity to take part in design activities and online workshops, all geared towards the built environment.  SEO London are also offering a range of insight days and virtual opportunities in Engineering and Technology.  Students will need to register and meet certain criteria such as having achieved GCSE Maths and English Language at grade 6, so check them out.  Alternatively,  Barclays Life Skills is also offering virtual work experience with Freeformers, a UK-based digital transformation agency.  Although this is not engineering, you will learn about some useful skills required for the working environment as it’s a company that helps organisations embrace technology and digital products.  Additionally, the organisation Speakers for Schools offers virtual work experience and there are some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) opportunities available, although you may need to live in certain London boroughs to access these.  You can find out more about them by talking to someone from your school in the first instance.

Volunteering for a cause is another way of gaining “work” experience.  Help from Home is an online community that offers micro-volunteering opportunities where you can participate in short activities which do not require the normal time commitment of regular volunteering.  You may take a short survey giving your opinion about an environmental issue or play an online computer game for 30 minutes, but by doing so, you will be contributing to scientific research in a very short space of time.  These are all transferable skills, as engineers always have to test things out and consider environmental and sustainability factors before undertaking big projects.

Virtual Tours

Some companies are giving virtual tours of their workplaces and this is extremely beneficial for a subject such as engineering.  The company icanbea is currently offering this for Morgan Sindall, a construction company. This is useful for wannabe civil or structural engineers as not only do you learn about the built environment, but also the other professionals you could be potentially working with in your future career.  If your interests lie more with computer or software engineering, there’s a virtual tour of BT too.  For an insight into electricity and nuclear engineering, the company EDF Energy are also offering virtual tours where you can learn about nuclear power, low carbon nuclear generation, health and safety as well as their planned future projects and developments.  It may not be traditional work experience but it’s still enabling you to “access” workplaces – so investigate any others that might be out there.

Learning Online

There are many online learning opportunities available and the information you can glean from these will enhance your personal statement.  You can check out a free pre-recorded online lecture through Gresham College or try researching individual science and engineering organisations such as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).  This one in particular supports scientists and engineers worldwide and they have a number of free events available on Eventbrite where you can learn about particle physics.  Two forthcoming event titles are Exploring inside atoms to understand the universe and Lasers, Chocolate and the Moon, which includes a home experiment.  If you’ve missed these events, look out for others too!

The online learning platform FutureLearn also has a collection of free courses in engineering offered by universities from all over the world and the Open University offers free online courses in Science, Maths and Technology.  You will need to commit some time to completing these but it will be worth it in the end as it will enhance your knowledge – don’t forget to keep a record of what you’re learning so that when you do write your personal statement, you can refer back to your notes.

And finally, check out online learning from the Stemettes, an organisation that promotes and supports females and non-binary students into STEM careers. Here you can access online tutorials and events covering Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and much more.

These are just some of the opportunities currently on offer, so be proactive and keep an eye out for others!

For further advice on your personal statement, email:

*Always be cautious and check any online forum or employer with your teacher or people at home first, as your safety is paramount!


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