Whilst covering for one of my colleagues recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time in our local schools which was very interesting on several levels. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is very important to Situations, so for a number of years the team has been assisting in the schools whenever possible. This has taken a variety of different formats, from a front of class presentation, attending a career fair or giving one to one interview training to a student, covering a wide variety of topics such as interview & telephone skills, to CV writing and providing general information on different sectors of the Finance Industry.
After joining Situations nearly four years ago, I quickly became involved with helping out my colleagues with general support when required, such as collating information and just being an extra person when we went on site. More recently one of our Directors, Nadine Gavey, has been responsible for driving this piece of work – she approached me prior to going on maternity leave last year to ask whether I wanted to look after the schools whilst she was off and I accepted, knowing that it was going to put me well out of my comfort zone, but also knowing that a bit of personal development is a very good thing.
Nadine had already put together a framework for me to work from i.e. she had made contact with a number of schools, agreed dates and also established what would be provided by Situations, very often with support from the wider Situations & CIPD team. I was very lucky to initially have a few willing volunteers but because many of the dates were so far ahead in the diary, inevitably some of those had no choice but to withdraw their availability. Trying to find volunteers at the last moment can be challenging and there were a couple of times when I had to alter what I was able to offer the schools, however, mostly things ran to schedule. This is a good time to thank everyone who gave up their precious time to support this initiative, it really was very much appreciated both by myself and the schools involved. In addition, I was supported by my colleague Evie who did an amazing job of proofreading my presentations, as well as ensuring I was where I needed to be at the correct time and on the right day.
I am a fairly quiet, private and reserved individual so the challenge of undertaking my first presentation to a large class of older teenagers was (almost) keeping me awake at night. I am a preparer and planner and therefore spent some time re-writing presentations so that they flowed better for me, which I knew would help a little with my confidence on the first day. I decided to go the whole hog and asked one of the Grammar School teachers to give me some feedback after my first presentation, which she duly did. Taking this on board and finding an unexpected reserve of confidence, I was soon really enjoying standing up in front of the students and feeling a genuine desire to help them as much as I was able.
I was fortunate enough to attend a number of schools and was surprised how different the students in each were, some were quite lively and noisy (as teenagers are) whilst others were extremely polite and welcoming with a whole lot of very relevant questions to ask (of course, I am not going to divulge any further on that, though!). I learned that I was able to answer a very wide range of questions that were thrown at me without any planning or preparation, which has been excellent for my own personal development and very importantly my confidence. And at the end of one of the sessions I even received a round of applause! So, thank you for the challenge Nadine and thank you to all of those students who listened to what I had to say (even though some of it was boring 😉) and asked me all of those lovely questions.