How are you inspiring the future? Pretty big question huh? Well the answer doesn’t need to be.
What is Inspiring The Future?
Inspiring the Future (ItF) is a free service with volunteers from all sectors and professions going into state schools and colleges to talk about their jobs and sectors. Anyone can volunteer with Inspiring the Future – you can be a young Apprentice, graduate recruit or a seasoned Chief Executive – young people will benefit from hearing about your experiences. You offer to visit a local state school or college for ‘one hour, once a year’.
That is how ItF positions themselves. I found out about them through my membership of the CIPD, and because I think the worlds of education and work are currently not as well joined up as they should be, I joined the scheme to see if I could be of use. After spotting a few opportunities I couldn’t fit into the diary, a chance arose to take part in some CV skills development at a local school.
I registered to take part and as part of my preparation, I asked Twitter a question:
As you might expect – I got some great answers which I curated over at Storify if you’d like to take a look.
I headed on over to the school where I got a friendly welcome from school staff and Annie from the CIPD. Our first group of students were introduced, plenty of them already had a CV, but no one had brought a hard copy along. A few students had theirs on usb sticks but for IT security reasons the school wasn’t willing to load the sticks into their system to get printouts. Most people said ‘We weren’t told to bring them’. Our involvement was only part of a wider careers fair so I don’t know how things were positioned before hand, but given there were employers to be met and other opportunities to engage with, I was a little surprised at the lack of CVs. Would I have been any better prepared at that age? Probably not.
Small Steps on Long Journeys
I had an interesting conversation with three people. One wanted a Saturday job in retail to develop her people skills en route to a job in teaching, another wanted a job in teaching, and the third wanted a career in law. The person looking for retail work has dropped off plenty of CVs but not heard anything back yet. Why is that? Here are a few things we discussed.
Tailor Your Work
We spoke about framing what you have to offer from the employer’s perspective. I asked, ‘what does people skills look like to a retail employer?’ After a pause, ‘commitment and turning up on time?’ was put forward. ‘OK then,’ I asked, ‘and how might you demonstrate that in your CV?’ ‘I have a great attendance record at school.’ One said. ‘And is that clear on your CV?’ I asked. ‘Not yet’ came the reply. We talked more and suggested that using a phrase like ‘building on my customer service skills’ might hit the mark for a retailer a little more than ‘improve my people skills.’ We agreed a key point was to tailor your offer to the market place and the job, don’t just fire off a one size fits all CV.
We chatted very briefly about social media and I showed everyone some of the Twitter help I’d received earlier. This led to a discussion about other ways to present a CV. None of the group knew about LinkedIn so I suggested they might want to check it out, filling in the profile could be a helpful challenge for them as they begin to think more about what they have to offer.
Developing an Edge
We talked a little about a career in law. ‘What characteristics do you need for that?” I asked. ‘You need to be argumentative!’ came a reply and we all had a good laugh, before settling on persuasive instead. ‘How could you demonstrate persuasiveness?’ ‘Do you have a debate club at school?’ Turns out they did and from there our aspiring lawyer suggested she would check the club out and see if she could put forward a debate on a relevant legal matter.
All too soon our time was up and off they went to explore other possibilities. I couldn’t stay for long but I enjoyed my short visit and I hope the people I talked with took something useful from our time together.
Inspiring the Future – Getting Involved
Taking part in ItF is easy. You just fill out a simple form and wait for opportunities to find you. Then when an opportunity fits with your diary, you simply go along and be useful. I recently spotted that Neil Morrison had spent a day in a school as part of ItF and afterwards had this to say, ‘I was HUGELY impressed by the teachers, the principals and the students. There was passion, enthusiasm, pride and energy. I think they’re destined for great things.’
That sounds like a worthwhile way to spend a few hours to me, how about you?