David joined our employee volunteering programme at Zopa, determined that the younger generation would receive better careers advice than he had.
Written by David Stevens, Future Frontiers Volunteer Coach
I remember well the first time I had career guidance. I was fourteen and just starting out on my ‘O’ levels studies. The world of work even then seemed very far away, if not a little daunting.
Despite the number of years that have passed since, I can still see the Careers Officer in his tweed jacket now, as he constantly mopped his brow while he just talked and talked.
He talked about factories, shift patterns, clocking on, production lines, weekly pay packets from which union subs would be deducted. Starting at the bottom, making tea then in ten to twenty years perhaps rising to shift foreman.
I was deeply un-inspired and I remember thinking “Is that it? Is that all there is out there?”
So when Future Frontiers presented me with the opportunity to coach pupils about career opportunities, I jumped at the chance. I was very pleased when I was selected and enthusiastically read the materials and set up my own job search account.
"I thought back to my own careers advisor and I was determined that whatever happened, I would do much better that."
Of course, I was still a little nervous about doing something I hadn’t done before and the huge responsibility that came with potentially having a big impact on a young person’s life. I thought back to my own careers advisor and I was determined that whatever happened, I would do much better that.
Thus, fully prepared by the training session, my own reading of the comprehensive handbook and completely supported by our Future Frontiers Programme Manager, I dived in.
Within the first hour of the first session I felt fully at home. My students were intelligent, engaging and fully switched on to the programme. I talked a little, they talked more, I listened a lot and never needed, even once, to mop my brow!
I knew I had succeeded when in the second session, I showed them how the career search tool worked and I saw the lightbulb moments in their eyes. In three hours, they had gone from “Not sure what I want to do.” To, “Wow I could really go for that?”
"Doors that were perhaps locked in their own minds are now wide open and I’m very proud and pleased to have helped provide the key."
I really have no idea how things will turn out for the students career wise. But I am confident that they now have some clear ideas and a resource to fall back upon if they need more help. Doors that were perhaps locked in their own minds are now wide open and I’m very proud and pleased to have helped provide the key.
The whole experience has been incredibly personally rewarding, as well as making me appreciate my employer even more. Unlike the big banks for example, we are a small start-up, with tight budgets; yet the fact that we somehow found the time and resources to support this valuable project, speak volumes about us as a company and our growing place in the business world.