By Sarah Prasad
Since 2002, Career Ready has been connecting employers with schools and colleges to help young people prepare for the world of work. Through mentors, internships, masterclasses, and employer-led activities, it provides 14-18 year olds from low income families a chance to develop the skills and behaviours needed to compete with their wealthier counterparts.
The success of Career Ready is highlighted in their 2017 Impact Report which states that 98% of the 4,000 + students on the Core Programme went on to ‘positive destinations’ after the programme (i.e. higher education, a degree apprenticeship or work/work apprenticeship). The benefit isn’t just for students though, 80% of employers said that their student ‘added value’ to their organisation.
However, it’s when you read the stories from the students and their mentors, that the real impact of the programme comes to light: https://careerready.org.uk/about-us/success-stories. Students talk about increasing their confidence and developing higher aspirations for their future and mentors speak of being inspired by their students and the rewarding experience of making a difference to a young person’s life.
These are the key reasons Head Resourcing continue to partner with Career Ready, by assisting with masterclasses and providing mentors and 4-week paid internships within our businesses.
Here at Head we are now into our third year of the mentorship and internship programmes and we’ve put forward mentors from across various teams within our business (Finance, Contract and Support). Jenna Hamilton, our Finance Manager was last years’ mentor (pictured above with Becca). Her key drivers for getting involved were:
“..to help someone who perhaps didn’t have business contacts, lacked confidence or experience in the workplace and work with them to develop both their skills and my own mentoring skills.”
When we asked her to sum up her experience she said that:
“Watching Becca grow in confidence – being able to make phone calls, ask for clarification/help and even do a formal presentation was by far the best thing about my Career Ready experience. When we first met she really lacked confidence and couldn’t look me in the eye so it has been lovely watching her confidence grow and I’m proud to have played a small part in that”
This years’ mentor is Jon Shenton, a Contracts and Compliance Administrator in our Support Team. Jon tells us why he was so keen to get involved:
“I became a Career Ready mentor because I wanted to inspire a young person and help them with the early stages of their career. I can remember how it felt leaving school and not knowing which direction to go in, so I hope by being a mentor I can help someone overcome the same anxieties and worries with making the decision about which path to take”
Whilst it does take a bit of thought and planning to ensure the internships offer a meaningful experience for students, the return is well worth the investment. Our very first Career Ready student, Emma Moncrieff, did some great work for our teams during her internship. In fact, she was so good she successfully secured a full-time permanent role with us as a Finance Assistant – a success story right there!
Like many Career Ready students Emma got involved because she wanted “to gain more confidence…get to know myself better (strengths, weaknesses, etc) and to help me think more about my future and help me decide on what I wanted to do after school.” Both Emma and her mentor, Lisa Dempsey, built a great relationship and worked together to help Emma build her confidence, particularly in situations with people she didn’t know.
“Undertaking the role of a mentor with Career Ready was a great experience. When I first met Emma she had highlighted that she was not an overly confident person & was nervous speaking with adults / older people. Throughout our regular meetings & her work experience I saw her self-belief and confidence grow which was fantastic to witness. Being a mentor can be challenging but the reward of witnessing their success is more than worth it. “
Next summer we look forward to welcoming Jon’s student, who he is due to meet soon at one of the induction events arranged by Career Ready this Autumn (they provide full support to both mentors and students throughout the programme). Who knows, perhaps this individual will also join our team after his internship. Either way, we will provide a valuable learning opportunity and most importantly seek to develop that sense of self belief that is the backbone to helping young people kick start a successful career.
If you are interested in learning more about the experiences of our mentors and students, please get in touch or go to: www.careerready.org.uk