Inspiring the next generation
Five years ago I had a life changing experience. I suddenly realised I had a responsibility that I hadn’t been aware of. It’s a responsibility that I now find hugely rewarding - helping to inspire young people on what career they might want to pursue.
It all started when I went to an event organised by Business in the Community on Work Inspiration. I was pretty busy and wasn’t that keen to go. I got there a bit late and sat next to a young seventeen year old student. “I want to be a doctor” he said, “I’ve just been at a toy factory on my work experience week making tea and photocopying, it hasn’t helped me be a doctor.” Mildly interesting I thought, but I’m a busy man and I have lots of better things I need to do.
His next killer line changed my mindset and unlocked something very important for me.
“What are you going to do about it?” he asked.
My first reaction was “why are you asking me, what could I possibly do?” And then in a moment I got it. I realised that all of us who work – whether employed or self-employed - have an amazing opportunity to help young people shape their future careers, not by providing meaningless work experience but by making a real effort to inspire young people.
I came straight back to our business and persuaded our CEO that we should do this. Out went one young person coming in for a few days doing boring jobs scrabbled together at the last minute. In came 40 young people a year, for a week at a time, in groups working alongside our senior players: people doing strategic, exciting and meaningful work. It takes a lot of effort but you get a lot back. We even end up with some exceptional employees, as some students have gone on to work for us. The challenge to inspire and develop is ours. They challenge us and we challenge them.
Our latest group of students helped us with nine strategic projects over five days - from designing viral ads using photographic drones to identifying organisations we may want to work with in Asia. You can read their own story here.
At impact we embrace Work Inspiration. I would encourage you to do the same. It is a very rewarding experience and I can’t recommend it highly enough. For me it is another reason that Impact is a company well worth working for.
You can also read Sam Williams' top tips on work experience here. He manages Impact's award-winning Work Inspiration programme.