Volunteering at East Barnet School in North London

By Syrad Doud28 June 2022

According to a 2019 survey, two out of five employers believe school and college graduates are unprepared for employment. One-third say they are dissatisfied with the quantity of relevant work experience and engagement young people have (The Economotimes Business 2019).

Being ‘desk ready’ is a relatively new phrase in the educational and early careers world. The concept of being ‘desk ready’ however, is an on-going challenge for school, colleges, and most academic establishments. In a competitive job market, it’s essential that students gain as much exposure to interviewing skills and pre-interview preparation such as CV workshops and personal statement writing. With the advent of technology based networking and social media, we can add the importance of harnessing the power of LinkedIn to that list too. So read on to see how me and a colleague got involved with this effort!

Dawn Dale and I had the pleasure of helping a bright bunch of A-level students from East Barnet School in North London. Our aim was to help them to become more ‘desk ready’. Methods were invited down by ‘BEE’, a charity that helps young people who are starting out in their career. There were volunteers from other organisations such as BNP Paribas and HSBC, so it was nice to collaborate with other likeminded people. The day involved conducting CV workshops and interview preparation via mock interviewing and written feedback. There was even a set mock challenge by Marks & Spencer Graduate Scheme that everyone found interesting. There were 6 groups of 36 students who had the opportunity to practice and improve their CV preparation skills and interviewing capabilities, necessary skills that they don’t often get to polish during their A-level studies.

This day of competitive and interactive fun reinforced the need for more workplace engagement with students, prior to entering the workforce. It was a privilege to meet and get to know such a bright and vibrant cohort of students. Some of these students had already begun enterprising by setting up their own businesses or ’side hustles’ outside of their studies. One student in my group explained that they sold and promoted limited ‘sneakers’ or trainers on online shopping platforms and social media. Another student in my group mentioned that she taught and led a dance troupe in her spare time. Many of them were already developing some of the skills they needed but needed guidance on how to demonstrate this skillset. The main theme I wanted to drive home for my group of students was their ‘transferrable skills’ – something they all had in abundance, but needed direction on how to demonstrate them to potential employers.

Overall, it was an amazingly positive and beneficial day. We had gone to help the students which we did, judging by the feedback received. We left feeling inspired and excited to see what today’s students and tomorrow’s inspiring talent force can bring to the world. No doubt creativity and talent in abundance – and now interviewing and CV skills too!


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