As well as our longer-term Apprentices and graduate internship programmes, UKCES hosts a range of work experience placements for those at all stages of education - from school and sixth-forms as well as college and university. Over the next few weeks, we'll use the UKCES blog to highlight thoughts and reflections from some of the young people who have worked with us this summer.
This week's Work Experience Wednesday blog comes from Charlie Berry. Charlie studies at Globe Academy in Southwark, south London, and he spent a week at the UKCES offices in Westminster getting to grips with some of our policy work. Over to you, Charlie ...
Arriving at the UKCES building in Westminster I was greeted by the warm smiles of my fellow work experience member Clinton, and Bronagh [apprentice in our business services team]. We quickly got briefed on our week to come. I was surprised to find out that so much had been planned for one week and was excited to get straight into things. Our first task: prepare a presentation at the end of the week on “how to make Britain better”. At first this seemed enormous. We all have our views and opinions but never have to present them to an audience! The second was to write a briefing for an upcoming meeting about youth employment and earning and learning. I found this especially interesting as it directly applied to me as I am trying to find part-time work.
The next morning I worked on my manifesto. I had to minimize all my ideas into five clear and concise ways to improve the UK. I got off to a slow start but soon the ideas started to flow and I was putting pen to paper. Before I knew it I had to go to a seminar about the briefing paper I made on youth employment the previous day. Hearing the views of others, from various companies and departments, was very interesting. It gave me a broader view on what I had already read and was good to see how issues in the economy today are being discussed and tackled. After lunch Clinton and I were lucky enough to go to a tour of the Houses of Parliament. It was an amazing experience to be able to learn about the history and traditions of the building, from 13th century artwork and architecture to historical practices that still live today.
After two days I stopped wearing my tie as I realised pretty much no one had one on! I met with Kate [manager, project delivery] about the UK Futures Programme, which invests in projects dealing with skills and employment opportunities. I was intrigued to see how UKCES are looking at pathways to career progression, skills deficiencies and productivity at local and regional levels. Next up, we met with Ken [coordinator, communications] who set us our next task. He informed us on how to write a press release and the topic we were writing on. We were sent back to our desks with the task of writing up this press release to deliver to Ken to review at the end of the day. This was an interesting task as essays and writing are not my favourite of all time but I got to work on those key skills and get great feedback.
On Thursday I attended a lunch time ‘Chalk and Talk’, which was very insightful about the latest election and how the vote went. With minimal political knowledge I was able to learn a lot about the election but at the same time some of it went straight over my head as the pace was pretty fast! After lunch another task awaited, looking at the new National Living Wage and how it affects people working in the retail industry.
Throughout the week, in the back of my mind was the end of week interview I have with David Massey [senior manager, policy team]. This will be a great opportunity to see where I can improve. And before I knew it I was walking towards my interview thinking of the question they may ask, beginning to sweat. Surprisingly it wasn’t as bad as I thought originally ... there is just always that one question that gets you! Apart from that it was great and I got to talk about one of my chosen subjects for university (economics) with David who did that at university. It was very insightful and opened my eyes to other options stemming from economics.
It was a tricky day, after lunch came the final presentation of our manifestos. I found myself standing in front of an audience talking about how I think Britain can be changed for the better. The sooner it started the sooner it was over. I was nervous at first but that soon settled as the questions came firing in.
I have really enjoyed my week here and has probably been one of the best work experiences I have been on.
Thanks Charlie! I tried not to take the comments on our staff's dress sense personally. Next week we'll hear from Clinton, the other recent work experience placement student in our London office.
More Work Experience Wednesday:
UKCES publications on work experience:
Let us know what you think on Twitter using #workexperiencewednesday or in the comments below.