BofAML volunteers visit 20 schools in 2 months talking with over 1,000 pupils
As part of a targeted campaign to encourage engagement with Inspiring the Future volunteers, over 20 schools in London, Kent and Essex used Inspiring the Future to invite a range of people to events during June and July 2015. Volunteers were invited to come and meet students and share career insights or help them improve their financial literacy. Individuals from companies including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the key strategic partner and lead corporate supporter of Inspiring the Future, as well as HMRC, American Express, MITIE and many more, gave up their time to raise the aspirations of over 1,000 young people in their local community and have some fun.
Among the events which took place was a finance workshop where students in Years 9 to 11 at King Solomon Academy in Westminster worked closely with volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and HMRC to plan a put together a budget for university.
Camilla Al-Hariri, Exams, Universities and Work-Related Learning Officer at King Solomon Academy, commented that “As many of the students are from low income backgrounds whose parents have little experience of university, the budgeting exercise was really important. The volunteers were particularly helpful at focusing the group on prioritizing what they were spending and it was great for them to share their experiences of life as a student”.
Charles Darwin School in Kent also hosted an Inspiring the Future event where the format was small group networking which formed an integral part of a week of job-focused activity designed to make young people more aware and confident about their career choices. During the event over 160 students in Year 10 had the chance to meet volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, local recruitment firm Swan Staff and the NHS as well as several individuals working in the media and other creative industries.
Darren Sowerbutts, Assistant Head Teacher at Charles Darwin School said “The event ran very smoothly. The pupils felt the day was invaluable, gave them confidence to speak to professionals and opened their eyes to wider careers choices and what is required to achieve these jobs.”
Balwinder Anand, Director and Business Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch who gave up her time to meet with students at the event observed: “The morning I spent at Charles Darwin School interacting with the students and sharing my experiences was one of the most memorable and rewarding for me personally. Using my story of how a love of puzzles and problem solving led me to a career in IT, I encouraged students to explore their own personal subject preferences and interests, and to look at options that are right for them. As much as I hope this helps the students explore potential career paths, it also helped me reaffirm how I reached this point in my career and why I am happy doing my current role.”
Ashley Freeman shares his volunteering experiences and gives tips on engaging pupils
Ashley Freeman, Business Controls Officer, Global Markets, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch first registered as a volunteer with Inspiring the Future in 2015. Since signing up, Ashley has taken part in events across a number of London schools and in-house at the bank’s central London offices. Here he shares a recent experience at the London Academy, Edgware.
“For me being an ITF volunteer is all about giving back to the community. It’s so important to be part of a campaign that reaches out to young people who would not otherwise be exposed to the professional possibilities that exist. We live in a thriving and multicultural city. However, as a Londoner born and bred, I know that the playing field is not perfectly equal, particularly for the youth of today. Inspiring the Future gives me the chance to reach out to those who have great aspirations and are determined to succeed, irrespective of background or gender. As an ITF volunteer, I can reach out to those in need and help inspire them to succeed in their future endeavours.
“The most recent event I attended was a careers evening for Year 12 students The London Academy in Edgware. I felt particularly passionate about this event as I grew up in the area and have seen the school go through a great transformation over the years. I was therefore very eager to show my support and make a small contribution to helping drive the school and its students’ aspirations forward.
“I prepared a session to deliver to three different groups of parents and students. I was very excited to have use of an electronic white board – times have changed since I was in school! I started the session with some ice breakers, asking the students’ names and what they want to be when they leave school/university. The range of answers from “barrister” to “media account manager” showed the students’ varied interests, which was encouraging.
“I then asked the students what they thought would be required to reach their goals. I compiled their answers in a spider diagram on the white board. Some example answers included ‘good grades’, ‘work experience’, ‘good communication skills’.
“For each answer, I asked students to give an example of how they could demonstrate that particular skill or achievement, and how that would benefit them in their career. For instance, one student mentioned work experience; I asked several of the other pupils what work experience they had done and how they felt that it had benefitted them. To summarise I spoke about my own experience of work experience and weekend jobs as a teenager and how this contributed to building skills necessary for the workplace.
“After work experience we spoke about writing a CV and going to a job interview. We discussed the key points of how to approach each of these – always linking back to our original spider diagram.
“The interaction with the students was really amazing. I was so impressed with their attention to detail and their realisation that both working hard in school and extra-curricular activities will be essential to their future progress. There was a friendly, informal atmosphere which helped to lighten the situation. Telling the students that I had attended one of the local primary schools myself helped them relate to me and my experiences.
“In these situations there are always some students who are more vocal than others, so it is essential to engage those who are quieter and shyer. This helps them become more confident and find a voice. At the end of each session I thanked all for coming and reminded them that even by attending this careers evening, they were already enhancing their future potential. Although getting our dream job can be a long road, it is one that with the right attitude and guidance you can certainly reach.
“After the event I was thanked by students, parents and the organisers alike. It was very rewarding to see and hear from so many enthusiastic youngsters determined to make something of themselves. It was a very humbling experience. The following day I received an email thanking me for my attendance and have since been asked to engage in the schools’ professional mentoring programme.”