Written by Jean Roberts-Jones, Chief Executive, One Community
Work experience is often a student’s first time in a work place. It provides them with invaluable insight and experience as to what to expect after leaving full time education. It can also help them consider different career paths, and experience different elements of working.
This week I was joined by an enthusiastic young student from Barton Peveril College who approached One Community for some work experience as part of her business course. She will be with me for another 5 weeks, every Wednesday morning, so it will be quite challenge for me to find her meaningful tasks. I want to help her understand the range of day to day operational activities which happen to allow One Community to function.
It made me think back to when I started work, aged 16 (yes it was a long time ago!). I started as a clerk for the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) processing medical certificates so people were paid when off sick. On day one I was given a desk, a pile of forms, told to sign the Official Secrets Act and then left to get on with it. It took me ages to pluck up courage to ask where the toilets were only to be told I had to wait until lunchtime. It seems as though we have thankfully moved on since then.
Our student was shown the building (fire exits, extinguishers, loos and where to get coffee) before I met her. After introductions I started to explain a few of the forms I deal with on a regular basis before we went off to a multi-agency meeting. Afterwards, she shared that she felt there was quite a lot of waffle but it wasn’t as boring as she thought it may be. Getting used to environments like this is crucial for those entering the job market, as multi-agency working has become integral to all sectors.
Next week I have a range of tasks ready for her such as reviewing our list of venues available for events – checking if you can use the kitchen, if you have to bring your own cups and tea towels etc. She will also be compiling a booking sheet for an event. I will explain the purpose of the sheet so we not only know has come for fire safety purposes but also so we can check how to contact people afterwards with follow up information as required. Our student aims is to go into event management so this will be a truly grass roots activity to give her some hands on experience.
Both Eastleigh College and Barton Peveril are always looking for meaningful work, not just shredding and copying, for work experience students. Yes, it can be challenging but you also get a great deal of satisfaction knowing you can help a young person. You meet lovely people who stop and ask you why you do things, and sometimes you need to ask yourself the very same question and re-think.
Work experience therefore can be a beneficial thing to take part in as an organisation. You get to see your work through fresh eyes, and help a young person on their journey into the world of work. I think it should be something all organisations consider.