How Are You Inspiring The Future?

A review of my first volunteering work with Inspiring the Future

How are you inspiring the future? Pretty big question huh? Well the answer doesn’t need to be.

What is Inspiring The Future?

Inspiring the Future (ItF) is a free service with volunteers from all sectors and professions going into state schools and colleges to talk about their jobs and sectors. Anyone can volunteer with Inspiring the Future – you can be a young Apprentice, graduate recruit or a seasoned Chief Executive – young people will benefit from hearing about your experiences.  You offer to visit a local state school or college for ‘one hour, once a year’.

That is how ItF positions themselves. I found out about them through my membership of the CIPD, and because I think the worlds of education and work are currently not as well joined up as they should be, I joined the scheme to see if I could be of use. After spotting a few opportunities I couldn’t fit into the diary, a chance arose to take part in some CV skills development at a local school.

I registered to take part and as part of my preparation, I asked Twitter a question:

Twitter CV question

As you might expect – I got some great answers which I curated over at Storify if you’d like to take a look.

I headed on over to the school where I got a friendly welcome from school staff and Annie from the CIPD. Our first group of students were introduced, plenty of them already had a CV, but no one had brought a hard copy along. A few students had theirs on usb sticks but for IT security reasons the school wasn’t willing to load the sticks into their system to get printouts. Most people said ‘We weren’t told to bring them’. Our involvement was only part of a wider careers fair so I don’t know how things were positioned before hand, but given there were employers to be met and other opportunities to engage with, I was a little surprised at the lack of CVs. Would I have been any better prepared at that age? Probably not.

Small Steps on Long Journeys

I had an interesting conversation with three people. One wanted a Saturday job in retail to develop her people skills en route to a job in teaching, another wanted a job in teaching, and the third wanted a career in law. The person looking for retail work has dropped off plenty of CVs but not heard anything back yet. Why is that? Here are a few things we discussed.

Tailor Your Work

We spoke about framing what you have to offer from the employer’s perspective. I asked, ‘what does people skills look like to a retail employer?’ After a pause, ‘commitment and turning up on time?’ was put forward. ‘OK then,’ I asked, ‘and how might you demonstrate that in your CV?’ ‘I have a great attendance record at school.’ One said. ‘And is that clear on your CV?’ I asked. ‘Not yet’ came the reply. We talked more and suggested that using a phrase like ‘building on my customer service skills’ might hit the mark for a retailer a little more than ‘improve my people skills.’ We agreed a key point was to tailor your offer to the market place and the job, don’t just fire off a one size fits all CV.

Social Media

We chatted very briefly about social media and I showed everyone some of the Twitter help I’d received earlier. This led to a discussion about other ways to present a CV. None of the group knew about LinkedIn so I suggested they might want to check it out, filling in the profile could be a helpful challenge for them as they begin to think more about what they have to offer.

Developing an Edge

We talked a little about a career in law. ‘What characteristics do you need for that?” I asked. ‘You need to be argumentative!’ came a reply and we all had a good laugh, before settling on persuasive instead. ‘How could you demonstrate persuasiveness?’ ‘Do you have a debate club at school?’ Turns out they did and from there our aspiring lawyer suggested she would check the club out and see if she could put forward a debate on a relevant legal matter.

All too soon our time was up and off they went to explore other possibilities. I couldn’t stay for long but I enjoyed my short visit and I hope the people I talked with took something useful from our time together.

Inspiring the Future – Getting Involved

Taking part in ItF is easy. You just fill out a simple form and wait for opportunities to find you. Then when an opportunity fits with your diary, you simply go along and be useful. I recently spotted that Neil Morrison had spent a day in a school as part of ItF and afterwards had this to say, ‘I was HUGELY impressed by the teachers, the principals and the students. There was passion, enthusiasm, pride and energy. I think they’re destined for great things.’ 

That sounds like a worthwhile way to spend a few hours to me, how about you?

Our Olympic Experience

Earlier this week on Drive Thru HR, William Tincup and Bryan Wempen were asking me about The Olympics. William was saying how great London looked and what my experience of it was. If you have the time and inclination you can listen to the whole interview here (we also talked about social media, differences between the US and UK, service culture and some other stuff too).

Listen to internet radio with Wempen and Tincup on Blog Talk Radio

For the past week and a half the Shaw family has gone London 2012 mad. We’ve had a great time and seen loads of sports. You can read about the men’s and women’s road races (which were a highlight for Keira because she was spotted by her friends on the TV), and see a couple of pics here, and in addition I got along to the cycling time trials later in the week and took these photos.

Bradley Wiggins London 2012 Gold Medal Time Trial Ride
Bradley Wiggins London 2012 Gold Medal Time Trial Ride
Chris Froome London 2012 Bronze Medal Time Trial Ride
Chris Froome London 2012 Bronze Medal Time Trial Ride

Because these sports were run on open roads the access was fantastic, we got right up close to all the action. Later in the week we also got to see the men’s table tennis semi finals and Team GB women’s hockey team defeat Belgium 3-0 at The Riverbank Arena.

Carole and Keira in the Olympic Village
Carole and Keira in the Olympic Village
Team GB Women's Hockey
Team GB Women's Hockey

And if all that wasn’t enough Flora Marriott was kind enough to invite me to the Greco Roman Wrestling this week. This was a crazy afternoon spent watching up to three simultaneous bouts of muscly guys trying to flip and fling each other, very intense. Emotions ran high, at one point a defeated wrestler staged a sit in protest after what he perceived as a harsh refereeing decision which cost him the bout.

sit in protest
sit in protest

As you can see we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a great variety of sports and we’ve yet to experience the swimming and athletics at The Paralympics.

It has not been easy to get tickets to enjoy all this – for me the one fly in the ointment has been the hours spent fiddling and faffing with the ticketing website, and the way tickets have been released in stages has been frustrating for many people.

Notwithstanding all the fantastic sport we’ve seen, the overwhelmingly positive thing which stood out for us on our Olympic adventures has been the unpaid volunteers. Almost without exception they’ve struck us as happy, willing and helpful, they’re a big part of what has made London 2012 such a success. I’ve heard rumblings that the volunteers should be awarded the Sports Personality of the Year team award, based on our experiences that would get my vote.

photo credits by yours truly