BLOG: Why I'm going back to school this Autumn

BLOG: Why I'm going back to school this Autumn

Donna Murrell, Operations Director at Reed in Partnership talks about volunteering her time with the London Enterprise Adviser Network

In September I’ll have my first session as an Enterprise Adviser in a school near my home in North London.

The main aim of the role of an Enterprise Adviser is really straightforward: we volunteer a little bit of our time to help schools and colleges to better prepare their students for the world of work.

We are aiming to equip students with the skills and experiences they need to access the exciting employment opportunities that London provides.

My role will be to work with the Careers Leader at the school to help them deliver great advice to the students. With this advice, the students will be able to make better informed decisions about their futures.

I remember my own experience of careers advice at school in Essex. We used an interactive programme called Kudos that analysed our skills and interests and gave us a career suggestion. I tried to test its competency by playing around with the answers I gave it about myself – each time the same suggested career came back: Analytical Chemist.

Despite Kudos’ confidence, I haven’t ended up spending my career delving into the properties and formulations of drugs and substances.

In part, this was because the careers guidance I experienced at school also lacked structure and resource.

The concept of Kudos was a good nudge in a direction – and I did have an interest in science – but the support I received from my school’s careers adviser felt like a tick-box exercise. It was brief, unstructured, and unreflective of labour market trends. It wasn’t well followed up and resources were scantgiven the number of other students in my year group also accessing the support.

I’ve found through discussions with others that my experience wasn’t unique. And I know people who worry that their children may be left similarily ill-equiped when transferring out of compulsory education.

The London Enterprise Adviser Network is a great initiative that addresses this. And the best thing is that you can play your part.

By volunteering your time, you can bring your experience and insight about working in London directly into schools.

As a network of Enterprise Advisers, we can help students across the capital break down perceptions of barriers to entry into certain careers and allay their fears and concerns. We can provide them with more relevant and useful knowledge. We can give answers to the quirkier things young people want to know - like, do you ever get a seat on the tube in the morning?

We can help people to learn the things they didn’t know they needed to about careers and jobs.

Sometimes part of the problem for young people is not knowing what there is to strive for. We can even be that inspiration to some.

I’m really exited to get started in my voluntary role. I’ve had a couple of bits of training on safeguarding and how I can best work with the school. I know they are really grateful to be getting some support – and that it doesn’t come with a cost.

It’s not a huge commitment. I’ve only got to attend a couple of sessions a term and because the school is local it fits well around my working day.

I’ve also met with other Enterprise Advisers who have been encouraged by their companies to take part as they understand the benefits, both short-term and long-term. One construction company has given freedom for three female employees to take part during work hours, to help them breakdown perceptions of gender bias in their industry.

Those are just some of my thoughts on why I got involved. I look forward to sharing more about my experience after my first session this Autumn, and would love to hear your questions or ideas about this great programme in the meantime.

London Enterprise Adviser Network

The London Enterprise Adviser Network is funded by the Careers & Enterprise Company and the Greater London Authority.

In Central, South & West London the Network is delivered by Reed in Partnership on behalf of Team London, the Mayor of London’s volunteering team, and the Careers & Enterprise Company.

If you are interested in becoming an Enterprise Adviser, please visit www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/volunteering/enterprise-adviser-network