Whitehaven Academy Year 10 students had to hold their nerve, hold tight to their first CV and keep calm and carry on last Tuesday as they had their first “job” interview at the Academy Work Ready Day organised by Inspira. A range of volunteer delegates from local employers such as REACT Engineering, Sellafield Ltd., Copeland Borough Council, Graham Construction, Howgill Family Centre and United Utilities, came in to put students through their interview paces and then provide them with some feedback and points to work on and improve.
Nigel Gillson, Head of Faculty (Innovation and Enterprise) at the Academy said: “ We are committed at the Academy to improving the life chances of all our students. We believe providing learning experiences like these with local employers who bring the requirements and expectations of the working world into school are vital. The students have got an enormous amount out of learning what will be expected at an interview and how they can construct their CV to fit different purposes but they have been able to get it in a non-threatening setting which takes the pressure off and helps them to learn. We worked in a partnership with Inspira Cumbria to put the sessions together and this is just one element in a broader plan to help develop our students.”
Students worked on producing a CV and some preparation for interview skills in sessions with Inspira staff then had a few days to make their CV neat, tidy and complete and think about what they wanted to say before meeting their prospective employer for an interview. The students had 3 fictional holiday jobs they could apply to, which the interview could be constructed around. There were a lot of very nervous students on the day but the exercise seems to have made a real difference. “ I think it’s been really helpful getting to know what it’s like in a real interview. The things I’ve learnt from the interview are going to really help me when I come to apply for a real job,” said Callum Garrs a year 10 student after his interview with Charlotte Fee from Sellafield.
“I feel more confident about doing interviews after doing this. My interviewer gave me good pointers about doing interviews and how to look confident. He said I did very well!” said Michael Richardson from Year 10.
Delegates who volunteered to be interviewers were similarly positive. Jane Wilson from United Utilities said it was a “Great opportunity to meet bright, lively students from Whitehaven Academy. It was quite a challenge for them all but I was impressed that they turned up ready to have a go.” Dave Hargreaves from Sellafield sites commented: “ We could’ve used this when I was at school. Being able to practice in this sort of setting is invaluable. I’ve been really impressed with the students I’ve seen. “
The event was organised by Inspira in partnership with Whitehaven Academy. Mike Priestley from Inspira said: “ The academy is to be congratulated on seeing the need to help prepare their students for life beyond school. We aimed to raise confidence and skills in these matters and around 85% of the students told us they felt more or much more confident and the same sort of proportions felt more or much more prepared for interviews. We are really grateful to Sellafield Ltd and Copeland Community Fund for supporting us to make these things possible. Colleagues at Sellafield and in their supply chain have made a strategic commitment to helping prepare young people for the next steps after school.”