I was thrilled, when at the start of the year, I was contacted by the lovely Jayne Instone, Careers and Entreprise Manager to get involved in some of the projects my secondary school, Rochester Grammar School is doing to inspire its pupils into the world of work. We had connected through the Modern Muse website after I saw RGS had signed up on the search for guest speakers and work experience opportunities – and it seemed like a great opportunity to team up.
First up we invited one of the sixth formers to spend a week at everywoman HQ shadowing the events and marketing team. Earlier this month, we welcomed Hollie an ambitious and hard working Year 12 who was keen to get as much experience as possible from working in a busy London office. We wanted her to get a real flavour of what working life is like, spend time with each of the team and attend team meetings. She was given mini projects from researching VIPs to creating an eye-catching photo presentation – all tackled with enthusiasm and energy. A real asset to the team, we hope she learnt a lot from the experience too. We loved having her with us so much that since then, we have invited her onsite at one of our Awards in September to sample the excitement and hard work of running an event onsite.
Next up I worked with Jayne on creating a brief for the Year 9’s two-day Entreprise Challenge ‘Dragon’s Apprentice’. With all eyes firmly fixed on the Olympics this year, we decided to challenge them to create a showcase event for their own region in Medway which they would pitch to a panel of Dragons – there would be mini-heats and those that were successful and impressed would present in the final to the whole year.
As an ex-pupil, I kick started the day with a keynote speech sharing with around 200 girls my story, since leaving school. The last time I recall being up on the stage was during the end of year entertainment show, I was 17 years old and dressed as a Bee-Gee in faux chest wig, medallion and flares – this was therefore an entirely different prospect.
As someone who didn’t ever have a particularly clear career path ahead of me, I was keen to highlight that the key is to follow your passion, work out your core skills and strengths, be prepared to work hard but ultimately follow your gut instincts on what motivates and inspires you....if you combine all these elements, you can build a successful and fulfilling career. I hope the message was heard loud and clear.
The girls then broke into mini project teams and set about brainstorming their event. They had to consider all elements: finance, staffing, brand, marketing and logistics. Along with some of the teachers, we circulated around the groups helping to steer them in the right direction. We ran cpd seminars which they could drop into to gain further insight and knowledge into these areas. I ran one on branding and the girls came full of ideas, ready to contribute. It was lovely to have the opportunity to meet them all individually, hear their ideas and discuss any challenges they faced. Their events were so wide ranging from international food festivals, fairytale shows, fright tours and even a comic book event. I’ve loved their ingenuity and boldness – one group even contacted Gok Wan to see whether he would guest at their event – and when they hadn’t heard back called again for a response!
It was a real privilege spending a day back at my old school – as surreal as it was walking down the same corridors I had walked down over a decade before, it was great getting the opportunity to speak to the girls first hand about their careers and futures. I got a real sense that there is still a lack of confidence and self esteem issues prevalent across many girls at this defining time in their lives – but hopefully if more women in business can get out into schools and show the future generation what is achievable, these girls will have more visible role models showing them that nothing is impossible.