Invaluable work experience

By Rosie Say and Chris Green   -  By Emma Bird

"I don’t think we were expecting any work experience opportunities when we started out on our Envision project so it was a nice surprise.

We were all passionate about the environment – it’s a big part of who the city is – and we had decided on creating a green space in our school. Somewhere that students could relax and enjoy the outdoors and something that would make the school look attractive to parents and passer-bys.

We were matched with mentors from environmental consultancy ERM to help us prepare our pitch for funding and then afterwards with project planning and finance.

You think they’re gonna be really scary but they’re really normal people when you get to know them. They really helped us with presenting ourselves. They taught us the ‘power stance’ and they taught us about presentation skills, which we can use in anything – obviously we could use it at Pitch4Change - but we could also use it for anything. It’s been quite an invaluable experience really.

We do do presentations at school but they’re more concerned about the content rather than how you present it. I had one for English but I was so scared because they don’t prepare you for it. We’re not really graded on presentations or PowerPoint, not like a piece of coursework or like giving a speech, so we just don’t have those skills and that doesn’t help you prepare for the future.

We know we’re gonna use the presentation skills in the future and now we’ve had this coaching from ERM we know we’ve got those skills ready.

They also helped break our project down so that it looked much more manageable, and to see if it’s achievable. It helped so much because then we realised that we can do this now and we don’t really have an excuses anymore. We know we can do it. They helped us set deadlines as well for each part. So it meant that we were actually getting stuff done in the time needed.

Work experience

Naomi (ERM corporate mentor) knew that I was really passionate about the environment and obviously it’s really difficult to find work experience in environmental things. So I spoke to her and she offered me a week’s work experience in July.

It was strange working 9 to 5 in an office. In that week we just got so much stuff packed in. Speaking to Naomi she said when they employ people they’re not just looking for people showing qualifications but it’s what they can do and how they work they’re more interested in. They’re looking for staff with that spark, that get-up-and-go. They really value that in their office.

It’s something that’s overlooked in school quite a lot. We don’t really look at many other things like life skills or work morals and personality. So if Rosie has learnt that then she’s got a really big advantage going into the job market over everyone else in our school.

Chris Green, Envision Team Member

The learning experience

Working with our corporate mentors was just such a great experience. It’s incredibly difficult to get that kind of experience and it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Envision.

It’s funny you look at all the trees and plants in a garden, when they’re just there you don’t think about how you buy them, how you get them there and how do you get them in the ground. It was all stuff we had to find out and sort out. It’s a really good learning process.

It makes you realise how much you can do when you put your mind to it. Just sending off an email or writing an email – I wasn’t sure I could write a formal email and sound presentable. But after I’d written it and sent it to the others to be read and I got a good response from the Deputy Head and you just feel encouraged to go on from there. I think we persevered because it was something that we loved and it was practical. We were actually doing something.

Now I know that I can finish things through and I just wanna keep that going. Because the point of Envision is to give young people a chance to do something themself, and like this was the first chance I had and I’m happy that I succeeded in it. It proves to me that people can kind of trust in me that I can see something through.  I can keep it going. I know that I can finish things through to the end.

At the end of the day we have got a garden and we have done it and we completed what we set out to do."