Hi my name is Abraham & I’m 15 years old. I’m in year 11, GCSE year so right now I feel like I’m constantly bombarded with school work, homework & thinking about the future. My stress about the future had definitely been helped by taking part in the WYZ for Work course with Open Palm.
What made me choose an employability course
I got information about Open Palm from my school’s newsletter. I looked at the courses available & because I had no idea what I wanted to do in my future career & was completely lost as to what I wanted for myself I decided to take part in the WYZ for Work course.
What I liked about Open Palm & the WYZ for Work course was that it was targeted at young people around my age who might experience disadvantage in the workplace because of their ethnicity or other social factors. As a young man of mixed race, I felt a course specifically targeted at people like me might be beneficial for me & certainly I had found that other courses offered to be seemed more general & didn’t feel like they catered to me specifically.
Once I started on the course I found that it was clearly laid out with a selection of concise & understandable but impactful & interesting videos quizzes, info-sheets & feedback from people like me. It took me through each aspect of aspect of finding the right career from thinking about all the different career paths that might interest me to planning & writing a great application form & preparing for & doing well at interview. It went beyond this even to help me think about building a great reputation in the workplace, enhancing my employability skills & getting the most out of my jobs through finding role models.
I couldn’t visualise how to get a job I might want
The biggest thing I learned from the course was how to translate my qualities & talents into skills & attributes that an employer would be interested in. This was the jump-start I needed to shift my mindset from a school-kid who was not sure what was next, to young person with great skills to offer.
The other big thing that I learned was how to map out a career path for myself. One of my mindset blocks had been that I couldn’t visualise how to get a job I might want. I had the ideas – lawyer, doctor & all the other big-money jobs but I didn’t know how to achieve them so they were nothing but hopeless dreams.
I did find it hard to keep motivated at times, especially when I had other things going on but once I saw how my skills & the things that made me me were things that employers actually wanted I started to see myself differently & when I listened to videos about how people got the jobs they did & the kinds of daily tasks & responsibilities they had, I could visualise what the world of work was actually like & how I might fit in there.
How I secured work experience
Once I saw myself as employable, I liked the idea of getting an accreditation that would show employers that I had thought about the world of work.
One of the things that I especially liked about Open Palm is that it a small charity that offers great opportunities & each experience feels really personalised. This really was the case when I applied for work experience. Again, getting work experience had seemed like a distant dream but the team at Open Palm really encouraged & supported me through each step of getting work experience.
Because Open Palm has lots of connections with different employers, they were able to offer a range of opportunities that were interesting. Once I decided which work experience I wanted to apply for, the team were there for me at every step. They gave me a prep interview & then a real interview for the work experience that gave me experience for when I apply for jobs & gave me really helpful feedback on my performance. I had two different work experiences, one with QPR helping to run holiday football play-schemes & one with a law firm called Mayer Brown.
What they didn’t tell me about work experience
On my first day at QPR it was my first ever experience of doing work experience & I was really quite nervous but the staff there were really welcoming. I got a tour of the stadium & then I had a mentor for the week who gave me tasks & helped me feel confident working with small groups of children encouraging them to make friends & build team skills.
On my first day in Mayer Brown, I felt a bit more confident as I’d already had one work experience. This one was within an office environment & I learned about data input & processes in the law firm. I had a mentor over the week who was really kind & encouraging & gave me lots of praise. I worked hard but I got a lot out of the experience. I made connections & I learned a lot about what it would be like to work in finance. That really opened up further thoughts about possible careers for me.
One thing that they didn’t tell me about work experience was how authentic the work would be. I’d heard from other people that when you did work experience that you just had to do photocopying & other tasks like that but I got real experience with leading young people & taking responsibility for attending meetings & entering data on actual cases. This gives me examples that I can bring when I start to apply for jobs.
Taking the WYZ for Work course was one of the wisest decisions I’ve made.