Denae’s experience

My week at Inmarsat has been astonishing, because when I first met Julie Hyam in my school she was introducing me to what Inmarsat is as a company and what they do as a business etc. and to be totally honest honest, I wasn’t really interested and I was a bit pessimistic about the whole idea of doing work experience at Inmarsat.

On the first day I was really nervous and was unsure about the aftermath of this experience but surprisingly the staff were very welcoming and interacted very well with me. I thought I was not going to fit in because of the age differences but they completely treated me like I was an employee.

I’ve done many tasks independently and I think that this was very beneficial to me because it has showed me new skills such as writing formally.

By the end of the week I felt 100% comfortable and very happy for taking this opportunity as it has helped me mentally and has changed my behaviour/manner towards things. I feel I am more confident in bigger environments.

My whole attitude has changed and I thrive to be successful and do better than I already can.

Inmarsat completely proved me wrong!!

Julie’s experience

I first met Denae back in the spring when I went to New River College as part of our programme of educational engagement work.

New River College is a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) that aims to provide a short term educational intervention which is designed either to maintain a pupil’s mainstream school placement, or in cases where this has already broken down, to facilitate a return to mainstream as soon as appropriate.

Denae spoke briefly to us during the morning and expressed an interest in doing work experience. There was very little eye contact or questions and she didn’t seem overly keen on the prospect of work experience when I said she’d have to come in every day for five days!

We offered her a placement week and agreed that if she only managed 3 three days we’d be ok with that. I planned a structured week with an earlier finish than we normally schedule.

If I’m perfectly honest I didn’t know what to expect.

Social mobility (the change in social status relative to one’s current social location within a given society) is an increasingly talked about topic. Denae’s career options have already been potentially limited by circumstance – she lives in the borough of Islington, has been excluded from mainstream education and is now only sitting core GCSE’s.

The Sutton Trust (a foundation which improves social mobility in the UK through evidence-based programmes, research and policy advocacy) has reported that social mobility will cost the UK economy £140 billion per annum by 2050 and that every part of the recruitment process (from the initial CV / searching for a role) is a greater challenge if you are from a disadvantaged background.

Despite any preconceptions Denae has been a pleasure to have in the office. She’s been treated the same as every other work experience student – and that’s important. We’ve expected her to do some basic administration tasks independently and she’s done these well. She’s paid attention to detail, she’s contributed to the office conversation and she accompanied me to an external event listening well even when she didn’t understand the content. Something we of course naturally expect but may have assumed wouldn’t be the case of someone excluded from school.

She’s been in on time (or early) every day and she has worked full days, having requested to work later than the earlier schedule we’d planned.

She has openly shared that she doesn’t always get to school on time, doesn’t show interest, isn’t persistent and in her words has ‘a bad energy towards school’ yet this week she’s done the exact opposite and reflected on why changing her behaviours can have a positive effect.

The simple fact is that by giving young adults like Denae opportunities like this we improve their employment chances and enable them to make positives changes in their lives.

She’s left us with an understanding of what office life looks like in a corporate organisation and the expectations that would be placed upon her.

We are going to continue our relationship with the New River PRU and expect to have another two students join us later in the year.

Work experience is a unique opportunity for students to relate their studies to the world of work and training. It gives them greater self-esteem and is highly motivating. It helps give them more confidence when speaking to careers advisors about their next steps and knowing in themselves that they can manage independently beyond school. For our students it gives them more responsibility and shows that we trust them to work safely and make a good contribution in the workplace.

Ms Michele Lambert
Deputy Head Teaching and Learning, New River College