On Monday morning, I was thankful to be starting at 10am and therefore waking up at 7:30am, the time I usually wake up, because I knew I would be waking up an hour earlier for the rest of the week.
When I arrived, I was met by Reema. She introduced me to everyone at the office and then told me a bit about what UKCES actually does. After this, I read A Guide to UKCES and Not Just Making Tea… What followed was a discussion on whether this meant I was not allowed to make tea at all during work experience. (I didn’t, all week.)
After lunch, I shadowed a meeting. It was strange at first as it was a video chat, and not in person like I was expecting. That took a bit of getting used to.
Overall, my first day was fantastic; I had been slightly nervous to start but everyone was so welcoming, I enjoyed it and couldn’t believe how quickly it was over.
On Tuesday, waking up at 6:30am was difficult to say the least. After the alarm went off about 12 times (every 5 minutes for an hour, I’m an extremely deep sleeper), I finally managed to get up, get ready and leave for work.
Following a long journey full of delays on the underground, I met with Nicoletta who told me about her role and some of the research she is involved in. She then told me about a new area she would be looking in to – diversity within the workplace. My task was to research this as a starting point and while doing this I found out what diversity is, why it is important, some examples of organisations which are trying to be diverse and how they are achieving this goal. The most interesting thing I found out was that in the USA, data shows that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic minority meaning that society will start to change, probably here in the UK too, making diversity even more important.
After lunch I met John and shadowed him at a House of Commons event which was about the impact of business-university collaboration. I found it reassuring to see that so many universities are increasingly working with employers so that their students will be ready for the working world after graduation, especially as I plan to apply to university this year.
In the morning, I met Ken from the communications team who explained what his job involves and also showed me all the different types of social media UKCES uses. My task after this was to read through Climbing the ladder: skills for sustainable recovery as well as taking over Twitter for the next few days using something called Hootsuite (which is great).
At 10:30 I had a meeting with Adam who showed me a quiz I could take to find out my future career. In the future, I will be a Secure Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) fabricator. I don’t really know what this is…
After lunch I went to a research team book club. I had read The Future of Work in preparation for this and although the possible scenarios for the future were quite frightening, I hope we do have robots and stores which can scan your body and clothes to recommend outfits.
On Thursday, my induction was with Sarah and Olivia, and my task for the day was to write a briefing for one of the UKCES commissioners, Douglas McCormick. I was to update him about careers guidance in schools and advice on what can be done to help improve it. This would be presented to him at a meeting at 4pm (it was actually presented to Sarah and Olivia – phew! Slightly less scary).
During the meeting at 4pm, I was given feedback on my briefing. I learnt that everything should be as clear and simple as possible, definitely nothing like the type of writing that A-levels have prepared me for!
By Friday morning, I was finally getting used to waking up at 6:30 and standing on a packed train for 40 minutes with very little personal space, but unfortunately, it was my last day. I couldn’t believe how quickly the week had gone!
Friday was the most nerve-racking day for me because I had a mock interview with Alison at 11am. I’ve never had any sort of interview before so it was an entirely new experience for me and I didn’t really know what to expect. Luckily, my interviewer was very friendly and made me feel a lot less nervous! I learnt that it’s okay to talk about your weaknesses (probably best to also mention how you deal with them), to try not to be robotic or talk too fast because you’re nervous and to smile, of course.
After this, I spent some time with the Investors in People team, learning a bit about what they do and trying to write tweets which were only 120 characters long (leaving space for a link) from articles consisting of hundreds of words… So it was pretty challenging.
It’s 4:23pm now, nearly the end of the day, and honestly, I’m quite sad to be leaving so soon! I’ve had a great time at UKCES and I’ve learnt so much in such a short period of time. I definitely feel more prepared to begin my career in the working world (not fully ready yet, I still want to go to university!) and I’m thankful that I had the chance to experience working at UKCES.
It made all the rush hour journeys on the tube worth it.