Careers advice

Inspiration & support

Our dedicated Careers Department offers bespoke support to each individual student.

Led by two specialist careers advisers, our Careers Department works closely with students from Year 5 in Junior School, through to Sixth Form.

Junior School

ISA Awards FinalistFrom an early age, our message is very clear - all future paths are 'for girls' - even sectors in which women are currently still under-represented (e.g. STEM). With our youngest girls, we begin by ensuring they meet and are inspired by women succeeding in all walks of life - from policewomen and engineers to authors, astronauts and scientists.

Senior School

In Senior School, we connect academic subjects to real-world careers, for example, our annual Year 8 trip to Cadbury’s World explores workplace marketing and manufacturing in action. We also continually enhance and expand employability skills – from enterprise, communication and creativity to leadership, risk-taking and resilience through opportunities including:

  • Enterprise, Employability and Financial Awareness workshops
  • Arts Award
  • Outdoor Adventure Days
  • Youth STEMM Award
  • Leadership, Enterprise and Scholars programme
  • D of E Awards
  • Careers Fair (with over 40 local employers)

As students prepare to make decisions about post-16 options and future career paths, we provide individual advice and support. Using Kudos software, students develop a personalised career plan, to inform their choices. Our support includes:

  • A Level subject seminars
  • Alumnae and Prefect Q&A session
  • Year 11 careers day with support from employers on CV writing, interview techniques, decision-making, university options and apprenticeships
  • Taster experiences linked to subject-specialist mentors at leading universities
  • Careers focused tutorials
  • One-to-one advice for each student (and their parents)

Career support at The Sixth

At The Sixth we offer tailored guidance as each student shapes their future path. Whether preparing for university, further education, an apprenticeship or employment, we offer resources and expertise including:

  • Information evening to enable students to leverage the opportunities available in Years 12 and 13
  • Questionnaire to inform work placements
  • CV support
  • 1:1 careers interview with an independent advisor to create an action plan
  • UCAS day
  • Learning Lunches with Alumnae and local employers
  • Tutor sessions
  • Mock interviews
  • Guidance on Oxbridge, International Universities, Apprenticeship or Gap Year scheme applications
  • Gap Year presentations (Frontier, Gap 360)
  • Apprenticeship presentations (BDO Accountancy, Lloyds Bank)

Our Careers Department has excellent links with:

  • Prestigious universities
  • Specialist Further Education establishments, including Art Colleges
  • Organisations offering highly-regarded Apprenticeships

Through these connections, we are able to encourage our girls to aim high in whichever route they choose.

Work placements

In Year 12, all students undertake at least one work placement to gain valuable skills and to inform their decision-making.

"It was genuinely one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I saw ward rounds, surgeries, attended haemophilia clinics and physiotherapy. I saw the labs and histology departments, and I learned more about medicine in that week than in my entire life. I realised I want to pursue medicine more than anything. The experience was like a sneak peek into what things could turn out to be.
Reem, Work experience at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Employers often comment on the impressive focus and can-do attitude of our students. In the past, girls have gained open invitations to return, offers of work, or made long-lasting contributions to products or services.

Our Cambridge location allows us to forge connections with many employers, across the East, as well as in London. We offer placements in dynamic small businesses through to world-leading organisations. Examples of some of our placement employers include Mott MacDonald, the Babraham Institute, Purcell Architects, Cheffins Fine Art, SOS Children's VillagesMicrosoft Research, the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University.

Placements span diverse sectors, including:

  • Accountancy
  • Architecture
  • Archiving and curating
  • Charity work
  • Computer science
  • Finance and banking
  • HR
  • Law
  • Marketing and PR
  • Media, including Sky TV, BBC, local radio and newspapers
  • Medicine, nursing, therapies and healthcare sciences
  • Psychology research
  • Publishing
  • Surveying

"I joined Tees Law on work experience and spent time with the Family and Residential Conveyancing teams. It was a really great experience, and everyone was so lovely. The tasks were example scenarios with questions on how you would respond or advise a client. There was lots of research involved, which I really enjoyed!
Amelie, Work experience with Tees Law


As one of the first schools in the UK to become an InvestIN Partner School we offer priority access to a range of immersive career experiences, for students aged 15 to 18.

InvestIN provides unique insights into key professions, including investment banking, medicine, business, law, architecture, politics, journalism, engineering, psychology and computer science. InvestIN’s popular 1-day to 5-day programmes use interactive role play, seminars, case studies and Q&A sessions to deliver a 360-degree career experience.

More about InvestIN

Explore our current Careers Programme

Each Year includes initiatives led by our Careers Department, in conjunction with specific curriculum activities.

Year 7

Career Department Activities Curriculum Activities

Enterprise Skills Programme

Bright Futures delivers the Enterprise Programme in an impartial manner that helps to encourage the students to fulfil their potential. Students receive access to accurate and up-to-date careers information.

The Enterprise Programme covers the following objectives:

  • What does the term ‘Being enterprising’ really mean? and how is it relevant to everyone?
  • What is self-employment? and why is that a real option for men and women alike?
  • Enterprising skills - How are enterprising people driven? Why are some people are driven by money and some are driven by helping others? (Commercial and social enterprise)
  • Charity branding and the efforts businesses need to go to for recognition.
  • Box Clever - Multiple Intelligences - recognising that the perfect team at work is made up of people with complementary skills.
  • Makarapa - A social enterprise challenge that involves making a product and showcasing it.

This programme focuses students on employability skills and career self-employment options.

Year 7 Adventure Day - With sessions in raft building, kayaking and games, this Day strengthens employability skills such as teamwork, resilience, communication and problem solving.

Art - Students roleplay working in an interior design company, acting as both the client and the colourist.

English - Girls research charity marketing, with a focus on the role of writers and designers in creatitng promotional material to increase donations.

Arts Award Bronze - The Art Award enables students to build their art and leadership talents. Girls participate in art activities and events, exploring the work of inspiring artists and sharing their skills with others.

Year 8

Careers Department Activities Curriculum Activities

Motivate Employability Programme (Bright Futures)

Bright Futures delivers the Motivate Employability Programme in an impartial manner that helps to encourage the students to fulfil their potential. Students receive access to accurate and up-to-date careers information.

The Motivate Employability Programme covers the following objectives:

  • Management survey - What are business managers really looking for in the workplace.
  • 50 methods - Communication skills
  • Dragons Den - Verbal communication skills challenge, linked to the hit show ‘Dragons Den'
  • Tardis - Problem-solving, communication and team working challenges.
  • Tens - Practical challenge demonstrating that a problem can be solved in many ways.
  • Sir Darren’s Trading activity - Experience the thrill of running their own business and reacting to changing circumstances.

This builds on the year seven programme by consolidating employability skills and broadening awareness of a range of career options particularly those associated with enterprise and self-employment.

It teaches teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills. It helps the students maintain a positive, “can-do” attitude; it encourages their inner drive so they can believe they can “make it happen”.

Resilience/Team Building Afternoon – Students undertake a range of fun challenges, working together physically and mentally to achieve an objective. The main aim is to encourage girls to persevere to achieve their goals.

Cadbury World Trip – Students learn the history behind the Cadbury factory and Bournville village. The trip highlights how Cadbury manufactures popular products and explores 100 years of advertising and packaging design.

Art – Girls research different artist careers and write up biographies, critically analysing their work.

Computer Science – A visit to world-leading tech employer, Microsoft, encourages girls to consider a wide range of careers in the tech industry.

French Study and Activity Trip – This language trip increases spoken French skills and builds resilience and team work skills.

Mathematics – A visit to Bletchley Park highlights how World War II mathematicians played a critical role in ending the war.

Physics – Students study pioneering women in Physics to encourage participation in STEM careers.

Youth STEMM Award – The Youth STEMM Award goes beyond the curriculum, to broaden skills and enthuse students on the wealth of STEM careers.


Year 9

Careers Department Activities Curriculum Activities

St Mary’s Careers Directory

Students gain access to our bespoke directory of different careers, linked to each curriculum subject to support their GCSE choices.

Careers lessonsKudos Careers Programme

  • Lesson 1 – Self-analysis using Kudos to produce career opportunities based on likes and dislikes
  • Lesson 2 – Researching different career opportunities and labour market information
  • Lesson 3 – Developing financial awareness
  • Lesson 4 – Focusing on employability skills

GCSE guidance interviews

Year 9 students and their parents are offered a guidance interview with a member of the Senior Leadership Team to discuss GCSE choices and future plans. If students or parents would like more guidance, they are signposted to the Head of Careers or the National Careers Service.

Option process

  • An opportunity to access online careers advice software for all students
  • A meeting with form tutors to discuss option choices
  • Presentations on current and new option choices in assembly time
  • Guidance sent to parents outlining option choices
  • An opportunity for parents to discuss options at the Year 9 Parent Evening

Adventure Day   Students develop teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills, experience risk taking and increase their independence and confidence.

Art – Trip to the Royal Academy of Art.

Drama – Students have access to Digital Theatre Plus which includes live performances and industry interviews.

French – Language study and activity trip, which builds spoken French skills, as well as building resilience and teamwork skills.

Geography – Students consider careers in vulcanology and seismology.

History – A visit to Duxford Museum highlights how a collection is curated.

Mathematics – Exploring probability, such as calculating the odds of winning the lottery or pricing insurance contracts, builds real-life financial skills.

Music – Students study song-writing, linking with the music business and the recording/producing of popular music.

Religious Studies – Girls explore stewardship, in relation to working with the environment and climate. They also explore science and creation, highlighting the importance of scientific research and development.

Spanish – Girls study jobs, responsibilities and future plans.

Textiles – Students explore the career of British Fashion Designer Stella McCartney.

Science Fair Trip

Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award – Through the volunteering aspect of this award girls can gain experience of the workplace, and builds core employability skills. Achieving the Award provides a competitive edge when applying for college, university, or a job.



Year 10

Careers Department Activities Curriculum Activities

Careers Assembly

Students have a refresher session on Kudos to help them explore different career options and provide up to date labour market information.

The National Careers Challenge - Esports Challenge (The Inspirational Learning Group)

The National Enterprise Challenge is the UK’s largest careers and enterprise competition. Working in teams, students will look at all aspects of creating, designing, and launching a new computer games concept.

Students will identify a target market before developing an idea for a brand new, downloadable computer game. Students will consider all aspects of their game design, including characterisation, game play, cyber-security, and add-ons before considering how they would promote their new game to their target audience.

Students must also consider how they could capitalise on the growing appeal of Esports events to raise the profile of their game.

The challenge will help students to develop their entrepreneurial and digital skills as well as promoting key skills such as creativity, teamwork and communication.

Physics at Work Exhibition at The Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University – This visit stimulates interest and wider participation in physics amongst 14-16 year-olds by showcasing the varied ways in which physics is used in the everyday world.

Computer Science – Learning topics are directly linked to careers including cyber security, eCommerce and web design.

Drama – Students explore careers in costume design.

English – Girls focus on skills such as discussion, drafting, editing, creativity and writing in different styles. All useful in diverse potential career paths including journalism, marketing, communication, advertising, the arts, politics and research.

Food Technology – Students study sensory analysis and consider how home economists and food analysts apply these skills.

Geography – We cover UK employment structures and changes, and consider the role of the Environment Agency. A field trip to Wales includes a visit to a hydroelectric power station and a wind farm.

Music – Students explore film music and composing music for film and TV. We also highlight musical theatre and careers associated with this industry.


Year 11

Careers Department Activities Curriculum Activities

Careers assembly

Students are introduced to our Sixth Form Careers Programme and we revisit the Kudos careers programme to help students make informed decisions about their post-16 education.

Careers directory

All students have access to this bespoke directory to explore different careers by subject. The content offers independent and impartial advice about a broad range of careers.

Employability day

Run by Form the Future, this day involves a series of workshops led by local volunteers and employers with a focus on CV writing and interview skills, decision making, university and apprenticeships.

The final session provides students with a full range of learning opportunities available to them post-16. They also benefit from opportunities to learn from local employers about work, employment and skills valued in the workplace. Overall, this event raises aspirations and allows students to develop knowledge and skills that will support a successful transition to the next stage of their life.

Next Step Sixth Form

  • We support students with making their A Level subject choices.
  • All students receive a Pre-Sixth Form Academic Engagement Booklet with resources to support the transition to A Level in their chosen subjects.
  • Post-16 guidance interviews – All students and their parents are offered a guidance interview with the Head and Deputy Head of Sixth Form to explore post-16 options. Further guidance is available from the Head of Careers or the National Careers Service.
  • Reed virtual work experience – Students continue to build their employability skills, gaining experience in multiple departments, including finance, sales, marketing, learning and development.
  • Sixth Form fair
  • Q&A session with St Mary’s School alumnae and current Sixth Form prefects
  • Work experience convention – Current Year 13 students present their work experience, sharing their views and reflections, to encourage students to formulate ideas for their Year 12 work placements.

Art – Girls explore creative careers in a talk led by teachers, connected to A Level choices and future career pathways.

Biology – We explore careers in genetic engineering and the role of scientists in genetically modified crop production.

Computer Science – Student study topics linked with tech careers including communications and the Internet, security, software, ethics, programming and solution development and databases.

Drama – Students enjoy a theatre visit to see An Inspector Calls.

Geography – Studies cover conservation, linking to careers in this area.

Physics – Students explore the role of design and engineering in thermal energy and reducing energy usage.

Physical Education – This subject offers leadership skill development opportunities, such as learning to coach or umpire.

Girls Go Gold Conference – Delivered by the Youth Sport Trust and the University of Bath, this programme includes keynote speakers, practical masterclasses and wellbeing sessions from world-class athletes.

Spanish – Girls study themes including part-time jobs, work experience, applying for jobs, gap years and future plans.

Textiles – Students meet visitors from different related careers and study different fashion and textile designers/artists.


Years 12 and 13

Careers Department Activities Curriculum Activities

Academic engagement

Academic engagement helps students to discover their passions and builds a strong profile when applying for university and other post-18 options.

Apprenticeship schemes

Support and information on applying for an apprenticeship.

Aptitude tests

We offer help in registering for tests and support where needed.

Careers directory

Students have access to this bespoke directory to explore different careers by subject, supporting their post-18 choices. This offers independent and impartial advice about a broad range of courses and careers open to them.

CV tutorial

Guidance on producing a CV, helping students to fulfil their potential and to highlight their valuable employability skills. Students submit a draft CV to our Work Experience Co-ordinator and can arrange a one-to-one meeting to review and finalise it.

Financial awareness

These information sessions prepare Year 13 students for financial life at university and beyond.

Future Learn courses

Future Learn offers a diverse selection of free courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world.

Gap year schemes

Support in exploring gap year options.

Consultations with form tutors

Individual meetings with the Head of Sixth Form before UCAS applications are submitted.

Information evening – students are encouraged to consider how to make the most of the opportunities available, both in and out of school, to acquire a portfolio of skills and a greater understanding of the world of work.

Support for applying to international universities

Introduction to Work Experience and Careers Assembly

Learning Lunches – employers visit to share their career experiences with students

Mock interview practice

Careers Come to St Mary's event, including:

  • Interview skills workshop
  • Founders4Schools talk (5 local employers)
  • Gap year presentations from key providers
  • Apprenticeship presentations

UCAS day – Year 12 students have an off-timetable day dedicated to supporting their university application via the UCAS system. Presentations include a representative from a university, a past student and a keynote speaker from industry.

1:1 careers interview with an independent advisor (Form the Future) – this offers independent guidance, tailored to each student. It is an opportunity to discuss ideas, identify strengths, areas for development and a pathway to success. Students devise an action plan focused on making decisions about their future.

Work experience and Insight Events – Face to face and virtual work experience and insight events with a wide range of partners. Work experience aims to connect with an area of career interest and to build an understanding of today's workplace. Girls seek work experience at a time convenient to their academic studies and placements are arranged by our Work Experience Co-ordinator.

University/Apprenticeship Application Process – All students have regular 1:1 consultations with tutors to discuss next steps and strategies to achieve them.

Bronze STEMM Award – Participants can develop their skills and knowledge, whilst exploring different careers in the STEMM sector.

Global citizenship – Students explore the world and issues of justice, change, rights and activism.

This helps students to see the bigger picture and develop knowledge of their rights and responsibilities.

Art – Visits to the Sainsbury Centre, art galleries and museum trips, and opportunities to meet artists.

Biology – Students consider gene therapy for treating recessive genetic disorders, sequencing of DNA to find defects in the genome and the work of conservationists.

Business and Economics – This A Level explores the labour market and variety in wage level across different professions.

In macroeconomics students study the impact of increasing the workforce skills, for example, through education and apprenticeships on the economy.  In business, we study HR and recruitment decisions and explore different roles within organisations. Students also discuss employability skills and entrepreneurship.

Drama – All students have access to Digital Theatre Plus, which offers recorded live theatre performances as well as interviews with theatre makers who work in the industry.

French and German – Students cover the topic of volunteering in the future and consider the pros and cons of living and working abroad.

Music – We explore popular music and the music business, including careers in studio management, sound and lighting and the technical side of this industry.

Physics – CPAC covers how practical work is carried out by professional scientists with a wealth of opportunities across the curriculum to discuss.

Psychology –The psychopathology unit in this A Level is linked to careers in psychotherapy, detailing therapeutic interventions.

Students also study attachment which is relevant to those considering a career in childcare development.

We attend a Psychology conference, where students meet with academics and professional psychologists in a range of disciplines.

Spanish – This A Level encompasses aspects of Hispanic Society, including studying how technology has changed the world of work.

Textiles – Students benefit from visiting speakers, university talks and looking at different fashion and textile designers/artists.

We also offer a visit to some of the Italian fashion houses and the hospitality industry.


Alumnae stories

Sixth Form (2014)

Bonnie Au

Bonnie is now a Radio Producer at Bloomberg. Previously worked as a Video Producer at the South China Morning Post.

  • A Levels at St Mary's in Maths, Chemistry and Geography
  • Completed her BSc Chemistry degree at Cardiff University, and Masters in Journalism at the University of Hong Kong
  • Worked with Sky News, Vice, ARTE, Die Welt, and was involved in award-winning documentary productions

Sixth Form (2012)

Habiba Ahut Daggash

"I completed my PhD in Energy Systems and Climate Change Mitigation Research at Imperial College London. Previously, I chaired the Future Energy Leaders Forum at the Institute of Chemical Engineers, and sat on the Board of the Energy Centre."

  • Five A* A Levels at St Mary's in Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and an Extended Project Qualification
  • Graduated from University of Oxford with a First Class Honours in Engineering Science
  • A member of Oxford University Women's Association Football Club, Engineering Society and the Energy Society


“I did an internship with Handelsbanken. It was an amazing experience. I especially enjoyed learning about the inner workings of a bank like Handelsbanken that have a decentralised system of working. I loved working with the team, they were incredibly welcoming, inspiring and knowledgeable and I look forward to a future in the financial sector.”

Vanya reflects on work experience with Handelsbanken

“I really enjoyed the virtual ARM work experience event. It was great to talk to young professionals working at ARM and get their advice on university and starting a job.”

Alice G.

“This work experience was really good for seeing how a huge practice is run and learning about equine medicine. It was amazing and has given me so much I can talk about in my personal statement and at interviews.”

Natasha C-C, now pursuing Veterinary Science at the Royal College