“My work experience at the National Portrait Gallery”

My work experience at the National Portrait Gallery
An S4SNextGen student’s perspective

This Autumn, hundreds of state schools students across the UK took part in S4SNextGen work experience placements at top firms from finance to TV production, tech to think tanks and legal to automotive. Here is a student’s perspective from Alika, Year 11, Clapton Girls Academy on her experience at the National Portrait Gallery.

My name is Alika and I’m in year 11. I recently completed a work experience placement at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), through Speakers for Schools’, S4SNextGen programme

Before this experience, I had never actually considered working in a gallery, but I wanted to get as much work experience in different places and I thought that this would be perfect. I was really surprised by the variety of careers available at NPG. I learnt about jobs that I didn’t even know existed before doing my placement – who knew frame making was a job within the gallery? It was really interesting to see how passionate everyone was about their profession and I liked that the environment was open and welcoming.

I loved that my placement was varied; from handling original photographs to organising and setting up audio visual for a talk. One of my favourite tasks was working with families for the “Big Draw” event. It really helped me improve my social skills and I was able to stay active and on my feet throughout the day. Participating in a CV writing and interviewing workshop also helped me hone these skills, making me feel more prepared when it comes to applying for jobs in the future.

From this experience, I’ve come to know that it’s okay to be unsure about your school subjects, and to pursue the things that you enjoy. You can combine computer science and the creativity of art (an NPG staff member expertly combined the two!). It also made me realise that you don’t have to follow a ‘set path’ and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do 10 years down the line.

Moreover, working in the gallery has been very useful in opening my mind to new career options. Before my placement, I wouldn’t have considered a job at the NPG. Yet, I was sad to see the week end because I loved how inclusive and interesting it was. Without S4SNextGen, I think it would’ve been much harder to access an opportunity like this.

I think that work experience is very crucial in learning more about the different types of places you can work but also in expanding your skills such as communication, organisation and teamwork. Getting work experience can help young people figure out what path they might want to follow and give them the confidence to get ‘out there’ and apply for prestigious organisations like the NPG in the future. I’d really like to thank the NPG and S4SNextGen for this opportunity, as without it I don’t I’d be thinking so much about my future career.

Powered by Speakers for Schools, S4SNextGen is a national work experience programme and portal connecting state school students with placements at prestigious organisations across the country. Since establishing in 2017, S4SNextGen has helped over 800 students into placements at top employers.
Find out more about S4SNextGen on Twitter and LinkedIn