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The difference an hour can make

OVER the last 12 months I’ve been delivering workshops in Sixth Forms and community spaces across the county to help young people to think differently about their career decisions.

I’ve been encouraging them to take ownership of their next steps and not just react to this week’s online job adverts. I’ve been challenging them to think about what they’re good at, and what they enjoy doing. To think creatively about how they might be able to find a place to work that makes use of their skills and interests.

One of the biggest obstacles for them to overcome is having a network of contacts that can support them. And that’s where My Great First Job has come in.

My Great First Job is a local non-profit that is helping young people have conversations with businesses who are working in the sector that they think they might like to be in.

Before young people go to university they normally go on campus visits with their parents to have a look around: to get a feel for the place, to chat to some students, to look at the facilities and to check out the bar!

Their equally talented friends, who have decided to seek employment instead, don’t really get that opportunity. They get a job interview.

Well, we’ve been levelling the playing field for the non-uni tribe, helping them to also spend some time looking around and finding out a bit more about the opportunities available before they start applying. And what a difference it has made.

Using a simple idea of organising an Inspiration Hour we have been helping young people meet people who can shine a light on their industry and the career opportunities available.

A young chemistry A Level student who didn’t want to go to university found out that her skills could be used in a laboratory in Northamptonshire to make fragrances. She had no idea this was possible, and as she had only been at school, why would she?

A young man who hadn’t applied to go to university because he wasn’t sure how studying geography any further could get him a great job, spent an hour with a director of a land surveying company who had done just that. That young man has now applied to go to university.

Occasionally, it becomes a bit more than everyone expected – there is a young man now working in the sales department of an IT solutions company because they gave him an hour, and he was so thrilled with what he saw, he made it his mission to get a job there. You can be sure he won’t forget who gave up an hour to start his career.

It can occasionally be a challenge to find companies or individuals in some sectors who are willing to give up an hour. But those who do always tell us what an absolute pleasure it was to meet a young person who is really interested in their world.

These young people are early versions of you – they are you from however many years ago. Most employers and parents have also told us how much they wish this service was around for them when they were taking their first career steps.

If you’d like to get more information on the project, either to offer an hour of your time, or because you know a young person who could benefit from this, then email and we will help make it happen.

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