How Esher Sixth Form College Provided Nearly 500 Students with a Modern Alternative to Work Experience

Learn how Esher Sixth Firm College provided nearly 500 students with an alternative to work experience, hit the Gatsby benchmarks, and won a major industry award – all in the midst of the pandemic. 

The Challenge

Securing an alternative to work experience for hundreds of students

'The Internship' was created as a solution to tackle a common struggle faced by Career Leaders and Work Experience Coordinators in the UK and abroad. These professionals often find themselves overwhelmed with the task of securing work experience placements for a significant number of students, sometimes in the hundreds.

One person who was intimately familiar with this struggle was Cat Jayne Elmes, Work Experience and Alumni Coordinator at Esher Sixth Form College. Faced with providing hundreds of students with work experience during the pandemic, she and her colleagues were in need of an effective solution.


"’The Internship’ is a brilliant opportunity. Not only to get a meaningful work experience, [but also] to hit those Gatsby Benchmarks.“ 

– Cat Jayne Elmes, Work Experience and Alumni Coordinator



The Solution

A one-stop solution to ensure an alternative to work experience for hundreds of students

Through the implementation of ‘The Internship’, Esher Sixth Form College was able to offer a comprehensive solution for work experience, helping their students gain real-world skills.

In its inaugural year, the programme attracted hundreds of students who could enrol virtually and benefit from high-quality work experience. Today, the programme has evolved to cater to remote and in-person participation, ensuring accessibility for all students.

It provided opportunities not only for students who lacked personal connections to workplaces, but also for those with diverse interests who were eager to gain experience in a modern environment. Through this programme, students could engage in activities such as fundraising, website development, and concept design, all while tackling real-life business challenges.

For the staff at Esher, 'The Internship' meant much-needed relief from the stress of scrambling to find work experience for a large number of students within a tight deadline. Instead, they were able to address the entire problem all at once. This saved an immense amount of time and effort and prevented numerous students from missing out on valuable work experience altogether.

The Results

More than 1,000 students enrolled in alternative work experience

Since its establishment at Esher Sixth Form College in 2021, 'The Internship' has successfully offered more than 1,000 students an upgraded alternative to work experience. The programme has become a regular solution for the college, attracting hundreds of students each year and featuring inspiring guest speakers from renowned companies like Meta.

As a result, students have been provided with a contemporary introduction to the world of work while the Career Coordinators have been able to find a solution for hundreds of students efficiently. Through streamlined health and safety checks, 'The Internship' has reduced the need to coordinate with multiple workplaces throughout the term, significantly diminishing the administrative burden. 

Upon completion of 'The Internship', students were awarded their own personalised certificate and a comprehensive portfolio of their work. These credentials have been showcased on resumes and LinkedIn profiles, demonstrating their practical skills and professional development.



'They will learn about pinpointing problems, generating ideas, and developing a product while developing key employability skills, which is brilliant.'

Hear what Cat Jayne Elmes and a couple of students had to say ahead of the 2023 programme!




Find out more about the programme here.


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