Barry Sewell explains why he became a mentor with Career Ready

Barry Sewell, UK BPO Service Delivery Leader at RSA, has been working with Career Ready for four years and is currently a member of the Local Advisory Board for All Saints Catholic High School in Liverpool.

I first became aware of Career Ready whilst I was looking for a way to give something back, having been very lucky myself to come from a less advantaged background and gain a professional job. There were many factors that helped in my journey, but a big part of it was having the right mentors at the right time.

Since then, I have found that Career Ready delivers a huge amount, not only for the students, but also for the business leaders and organisations involved.

From a company point of view I get the opportunity to provide mentoring opportunities to a wide range and number of people early in their career, so that they can develop their approach to entering the world of work. I also run learning sessions and practice interviews for the students, which means I can give them some real skills they will need in their careers, like preparing for and having interviews, and presenting to large groups.

But probably the biggest impact for the company is during the internships. The energy and excitement that comes from having a cohort of 20 young and eager people, interested in what you do, provides a massive boost of excitement on the floor. By offering internships our team members get the opportunity to experience line management – and all of the fun that entails.

I also think every year we have offered internships to our Career Ready students there has been some breakthrough, some new way of working, a new way of looking at a problem that has benefitted us long beyond their leaving. I wouldn’t underestimate the value you can get from looking at your world through the eyes of a 17 year old who hasn’t been moulded and beaten into a corporate shape.

From a personal point of view there is something almost magical watching the transformation of students. The children who enter the process almost always leave it on their way to adulthood. I recently saw three 18 year old Career Ready alumni chair and steer discussion groups of 10 business leaders each. One of these had been my mentee, and I honestly don’t think I could have been any prouder.

For me, thinking that I could have helped one student change their future direction in a way they didn’t think possible, would make 20 years of mentoring worthwhile. Just imagine – being one of those little catalysts that somebody looks back on in twenty years time and thinks “wow – thanks”.

Barry is an ambassador for our Liverpool Let’s Do Business roadshow and will be giving more insights into how engaging with local schools can benefit businesses and individuals. For more information visit: http://www.careeracademies.org.uk/news.php/396/lets-do-business-roadshows-to-launch-in-liverpool

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Margaret O’Neill talks about why ‘it’s well worth it’ to be part of a Career Ready Programme

Margaret O’Neill is Director of Learning for Business, ICT, Finance and Media at All Saints Catholic High School in Liverpool, as well as a Specialist Leader of Education for another local college. She is responsible for running the Career Ready programme at All Saints School.

In my role as Career Ready Coordinator I organise the whole programme of mentoring, internships, guest speakers and industry visits for all our Career Ready students, as well as coordinating the meetings of our Local Advisory Board (LAB). The LAB is a central point through which all communication takes place and we work together to agree our plans for the future. As business leaders from the local area, they provide a lot of support in engaging other local employers to work with our students.

While the programme does take quite a lot of time and energy to run, it’s well worth it. Our students are often transformed by the opportunity and gain the real skills they will need in their future careers, as well as less obvious benefits like confidence and inspiration. It can also be really helpful for them to engage directly with people from the world of work, who can give them a different perspective from their friends, parents and teachers.

The one tip I would give to other teachers looking to run a similar programme would be to stay on top of your emails! I am fortunate not to have a tutor group this year which gives me an additional 15 minutes in the morning for some invaluable communication with the Career Ready students.

My Head Teacher is also extremely supportive of all the work we do and has championed the employer engagement programme throughout the school. It is so important to have that support and it means we have been able to embed elements of the programme throughout the school, including an Assertive Mentoring programme for our year 11 students.

Margaret is an ambassador for our Liverpool Let’s Do Business roadshow and will be giving more insights into how your school can embed employer engagement into the curriculum and fit it into the budget. For more information visit: http://www.careeracademies.org.uk/news.php/396/lets-do-business-roadshows-to-launch-in-liverpool

The New York experience

Shelley Williamson is the National Relationship Manager with Career Academies UK. She is accompanying Megan Thomson and Jordan Hunter, winners of the Sir Winfried Bischoff Award 2014, on their all-expenses paid trip to New York.

The week sure went fast but we did and saw so much.

View outs

The view when we stepped outside our Marriott hotel

The Marriott hotel where we stayed for seven nights was fantastic.  Megan admitted to not wanting to leave because she loved the room so much!

During our time there we visited 8 companies and we are extremely grateful for their time and warm welcomes.  Thank you so much to the following:

Citi was our first visit.  We were in awe of the views that they had from their offices.  It was wonderful to meet Monica Mecca and to see Florencia Spangaro again after 5 years.

Laurie Henneborn at Accenture arranged for colleagues Chris, David, Ed and Jason to meet with us and share their experiences and advice.  We were also spoilt with some lovely sweet treats.

Moody’s is located at 7 World Trade Centre.  Their views are amazing too as you can imagine.  Megan Friedman arranged a pizza lunch for the students and they then shadowed Ryan and Donald for the afternoon.  Megan then gave us a tour of the 9/11 memorial.  We met other colleagues including Lenor, Christian, Katie, Maricio and Diandra (who is a Career Academy alumni who now works at Moody’s in London and who happened to be there while we were.)

New York

New York

Our visit to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was very special because Richie arranged and took Megan and Jordan on a tour of the Federal and State Courts.  This was really interesting.  Jo showed us around their lovely offices and Suzanne gave half an hour of her precious time to talk to us about the legal system.  The visit ended with a lovely lunch at the City Hall restaurant.

At Barclays we met Jeremy Davis, Lindsay, Lauren, Allie and Lauren who work in Community Investment.  We heard about what they do as well as getting lots of tips on what to see and do whilst in New York!  Jeremy then took us to visit 3 trading floors.  We met lots of colleagues there including Jonathan and Grace who explained what they did.  I think Megan kept looking for the scenes from Wolf of Wall Street!

Megan and Jordan with JD Hoye at NAF

Megan and Jordan with JD Hoye at NAF

It was really lovely to finally meet Tanya Navas at the National Academy Foundation.  She showed us round their offices and we met so many friendly colleagues.  It felt a little strange being in ‘our office equivalent’ in another country so far away.  JD Hoye, President of NAF gave us some of her time and we heard a bit about what NAF are doing and she was interested in hearing the students’ stories and how the UK Career Ready programme is going.

Jordan getting ready for take-off

Jordan getting ready for take-off

From a tourist perspective Megan and Jordan did as much as possible.  They went up the Empire State Building, on the Staten Island Ferry, on a helicopter ride over New York, walked over Brooklyn Bridge, wandered around Times Square and watched “Phantom of the Opera”.  We cycled around Central Park and also went on a horse and carriage ride through the park.  Megan did very well on her shopping mission too.  They went to the M+M store, the Hersheys store and the famous toystore near Central Park.  They went to Macys and Century 21.  As well as many many other shops in between. We went to the famous Katz deli, Planet Hollywood and Ess-A-Bagel.

We experienced New York food!  Bagels, burgers, shakes, doughnuts, cheesecake and pizza.

We saw hundreds of yellow taxis, large American flags,  NY fire engines and school buses, dogs in prams, dirty subways and grand buildings.

Thank you to Virgin for our flights to and from New York

Thank you to Virgin for our flights to and from New York

Myself, Megan and Jordan would like to thank everybody who made this incredible prize trip possible.  It certainly was an experience of a lifetime.  THANK YOU.

Our last business visit

Megan Thomson graduated from the Career Academy at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh this year and was selected as one of two national Sir Winfried Bischoff Award winners for her outstanding performance on the Career Academy programme. She and Jordan Hunter received an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

It’s been a few days now since coming home from New York and all I can say is that the dream has well and truly come to an end after being thrown back into work and college at the deep end!

The Virgin first class lounge and Marriott seem a million miles away from my every day life now, and although everything has gone back to normal I can still say that I’ve been to New York and visited all the various businesses and seen all the big apple has to offer!

New York really was amazing, and although I couldn’t help feeling slightly home sick missing my mum, boyfriend and EVEN my little brother! (It was a very strange sensation) I can say I’ve done and experienced things that they probably never will!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge

To wrap up, once again the Career Academy has managed to change my life, this time through the Sir Winfried Bischoff Award and my New York journey. I can only but thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today, every one at Career Academies UK, Shelley, my mentor Laura and my teacher Ms Dunn from my high school. It really has been an incredible period in my life!

All great things must come to an end

Jordan Hunter graduated from the Career Academy at Northern Regional College in County Antrim this year and was selected as one of two national Sir Winfried Bischoff Award winners for his outstanding performance on the Career Academy programme. He and Megan Thomson received an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

Times Square

Times Square

So we have come to our last few days and what a journey it has been.

Both the business side and the pleasure side of New York City has been outstanding.

The view from the top of the Empire State building

The view from the top of the Empire State building

From visiting top banking firms to climbing to the top of the Empire State Building, it’s safe to say I’ve had an amazing experience.

I just want to thank everybody involved both at home and in New York, for making this opportunity possible.

And of course there is no better way to finish our last few days than to go shopping!!

Thanks for reading guys.

The Big Apple – Part 2

Megan Thomson graduated from the Career Academy at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh this year and was selected as one of two national Sir Winfried Bischoff Award winners for her outstanding performance on the Career Academy programme. She and Jordan Hunter received an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

Yesterday saw our last business visit here in the Big Apple, we took a trip to The National Academy Foundation which is Career Academies UK’s sister company in the US. We had a tour of the office followed by a run down of the scale and all the good they have achieved with young people in our position.

View from the helicopter

View from the helicopter

We also encountered our first swindle from a street vender! Then commenced our first real ‘free time’ and after hearing about last years helicopter trip, it was top of our list!! And all I can say is that it was amazing! A once in a life time experience seeing the skyline and Statue of Liberty from a close distance!

After that a we took a tide on the staten island ferry, it was clear that Jordan and Shelley really enjoyed this from the amount of photos they took – they’re poor cameras!! Whereas I was admiring from one of the many free seats due to seasickness…

Megan checking out the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry

Megan checking out the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry

We then chose to take a walk over the Brooklyn bridge, and what a walk it was!! By the time we finished we were all so tired but the sunset over the city and all the dimly lit romantic restaurants by the Hudson’s edge made it worth it!

Now onto our shopping day!

The Big Apple

Megan Thomson graduated from the Career Academy at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh this year and was selected as one of two national Sir Winfried Bischoff Award winners for her outstanding performance on the Career Academy programme. She and Jordan Hunter received an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

So we have had our first few days in New York and have gone from the first class Virgin Atlantic lounge to the monster double decker plane where we had our own tv’s and soooo much food it’s crazy! The traveling alone has been an amazing experience!

Then onto the Marriott courtyard on 54th street and broadway, when we arrived at the hotel we were all so tired (I failed to mention falling asleep in the taxi from JFK and waking to find Jordan and Shelley laughing at my snoring!!) that getting into bed was all we could think about! And what a room it is, with one whole wall being glass the view of the New York sky line is beautiful, not forgetting the most comfortable bed ever, the American cable TV, iPod speakers, spacious bathroom and mini fridge. It’s incredible.

Welcome to Moody's

Welcome to Moody’s

So yesterday we visited Moody’s, a company near the World Trade Center memorial and we were treated with a typical New York style pizza for lunch! We then proceeded to job shadow Donald Stephens a director of structured analytics and valuations and Ryan Benjamin and assistant director in financial services, both of whom took an hour out of their valuable time to show Jordan and I the ropes, which was such a worthy experience.

We then had a tour around the World Trade Center memorial by Megan, one of the main people on Moody’s side behind all the details of our visit. It’s hard to say how you feel facing the pools where the two towers once stood; it’s a beautiful and somber place that does a wonderful job at remembering all those lost.

Another day in New York over, and a huge thank you to Moody’s for an amazing day, it truly was great!

Onto to the next challenge – Barclays and Fresh Fields!