This was part of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s ‘Give an Hour’ campaign aimed at local employers sharing their career journey to young people in schools and colleges. Having found an email in my inbox detailing the various outreach activities that Inzpire plans to take part in over the next year, and with the backing of the CEO himself, I put my name forward for the event.
I was fortunate enough to have done science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) outreach with my previous company including attending big STEM fairs conducting activities with people of all ages. We also worked with primary school age children in increasing STEM awareness with a view to increasing the amount of girls who select STEM subjects in secondary school. The brief of the ‘Give an Hour’ campaign was different though; this was going to be talking more about myself, my career and my thought processes during school, University and then beyond.
Having grown up with little idea of what I wanted to do as a career and only being aware of those professions that are the standard response to asking a four-year-old child what they want to be when they grow up (policewoman, teacher, lawyer, doctor, you know what I’m talking about…), I thought it was important to be as personal as possible about my thoughts growing up and where I thought I’d let myself down and had a perceived set-back.
When leaving school, I always thought I’d be involved in law as that was the profession I had most exposure to growing up. Due to my results not quite getting me into the one University I wanted to study law at, I then ended up studying business management, taking a placement year to work in recruitment which gave me much more exposure to other career options.
Take accountancy for example. When you are younger, you simply know that there is the role of ‘accountant’ but this doesn’t delve into the different types such as management accounting, payroll or accounts receivable; each of which may attract a different person. It’s exactly the same with engineering where most young people will have an image of a mechanical engineer, or someone in a hard hat and boots, rather than the more accurate understanding that most things in the world will have an engineer behind it whether electrical, software, systems or safety.
One of the biggest learning points I tried to get across to the 6th formers is that things won’t always go as planned in school, in their career or in life in general – but that’s okay. I told them to channel that disappointment in to working hard – keep an open mind and they will ultimately do well, even if it’s not in the area they had planned. It’s a simple formula and opens up a world of niche careers and industries that they may not have even thought about as 16-year-olds looking into a world of the unknown.
By having an open mind when I didn’t get where I wanted to be, I ended up in the defence industry in a bid and project management role which many people wouldn’t have an understanding of growing up. This leap into the unknown however turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.
By getting involved in the ‘Give an Hour’ campaign, I had the opportunity to share my experiences in both this job role and the defence industry and give the audience an insight in to the the sheer quality of technology and talent I have worked with in just the early stages of my career.
Now understanding the lack of career advice when I was at school, I believe it is vitally important that talent is nurtured locally and employers do all they can to promote opportunities and generally increase the awareness of career options. If even one of the students I, or the other employers there, spoke to was inspired to research more about a different career path or industry, I would see it as a success.
Even within one hour, the line of questioning from the students and the engagement in the activity designed to demonstrate how the learning at school can be applicable to working life, proved the impact that such little time can have on a young person’s thinking.
Flo recently taking part in a personal development and leadership training day with the Royal Air Force