By Ross Dawson. Published on 24 April 2017
Eton Bridge Partners has long been involved with a number of charity initiatives, which is something we’re particularly passionate about. My colleagues and I are encouraged to participate in charitable causes and share our own personal and professional experience to help others.
Both through Eton Bridge Partners and individually, I am involved with two particularly rewarding initiatives which centre around helping students prepare for their professional lives. The aim of both is to deliver career guidance to young people at a pivotal point in their lives, providing them with a better understanding of the working world and helping them make informed decisions, while also offering practical CV writing support and interview practice.
SHARING OUR EXPERIENCE TO HELP THE NEXT GENERATION
The Barnet Education Business Partnership supports work-related learning and enterprise education, helping to develop young people’s understanding of the world of work whilst enhancing their employability skills. Through specialist sessions, the charity aims to promote career options to young female students; challenging stereotypes about their career potential, broadening their horizons and highlighting the diversity of professional opportunities available to them.
Through this organisation, I’ve worked predominantly with girls in various London schools, taking part in day visits that involved group discussions, teamwork, business presentations, workshops and problem-solving tasks. I joined fellow businesswomen from a broad range of vocations to speak with these girls, aged 12-13, to enlighten them about different career paths and to encourage self-confidence in their abilities.
A particular challenge is dispelling some of their limiting preconceptions about women’s potential in the workplace. During one school visit, I was taken aback to discover the students didn’t believe they could earn as much as their male counterparts – even imagining it would be “shameful” for a man to be in a relationship with a woman of equal income. The stigma around female earning power is still worryingly prevalent – whether due to different cultural perspectives, media influences or a lack of appreciation for women’s professional potential. The work undertaken by the Barnet Education Business Partnership to empower these students, dispel misconceptions and enlighten them on their opportunities is invaluable – particularly through their ‘Inspiring the Future’ and ‘Inspiring Women’ initiatives.
EXPLORING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FOR SCHOOL LEAVERS
The second charity with which Eton Bridge is closely involved is ‘Learning to Work’. Focused on “bringing opportunity to young people”, the organisation works with more than 18,000 young people each year, providing work experience opportunities, financial awareness, business insight days, and careers and apprenticeship events. It also provides support for students who have special needs or those struggling with mainstream education.
I recently spent a day with students who had decided not to go to university for a variety of reasons. While for some this decision was driven by cost, others were motivated by a desire to start earning or to exit the education system. The event focussed on alternative routes to employment, for which I provided guidance on how best to enter the job market – either directly or through recruitment agencies. This involved using my experience to give them a greater understanding of the employment landscape, and provide advice on how to structure their job search, position themselves authentically yet professionally, and broaden their horizons.
My advice ranged from helping these students rewrite their CVs and personal statements to practising interview technique, teaching them how to engage with recruiters and hiring managers, and discussing different job roles. Four other professionals attended the event, including some whose companies organised or hired apprentices, and a former student who had recently completed an apprenticeship.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
One standout memory of the day involved working with a student who was unenthused about crafting his CV. Although he clearly had bags of common sense, he wasn’t interested in school and didn’t see the value in writing a CV. We worked together to create a personal profile that was authentic and representative of him. Seeing how satisfied he was with the end result was particularly rewarding, his words were along the lines of: “Oh my God, that’s me – but I actually sound good!”
Another student had ambitions of coding games, but felt the industry was too competitive for him to succeed, despite the fact he was clearly bright, skilled and knowledgeable in the required areas. His career plan was to stack shelves at Tesco while coding in his own time. I suggested he could combine his professional and personal interests by securing a job in a gaming company, regardless of the position, and seeking out future opportunities from there. He was excited about this prospect and left more hopeful of finding an opportunity that would combine work and pleasure in an inspiring environment.
Both these organisations do fantastic work, and it’s been highly rewarding to support them in positively impact students’ self-confidence and helping to shape their career opportunities. My colleagues and I look forward to continuing these partnerships and using our professional experience to inspire and guide the next generation of school leavers.
You can learn more about these charities by visiting Barnet Education Business Partnership, Learning to Work and Inspiring the Future.
If you’d like to discuss how you or your business could help support these organisations, please get in touch with me: