My volunteering experience, as part of the Outreach Network by Alexandria Smith

“The beginning is always today” – Mary Shelley.

It was the initial thought of sparking encouragement and inspiration onto students that drove me to be a volunteer at the Inspiration for Innovation event at Kingsthorpe College informing and inspiring year 9 students about the world of work, especially within the automotive industry.

The event helped to inspire year 9 students to aim high and seize opportunities through speaking to different representatives within the sector, simply by talking to them and discussing the different jobs and roles that are available to them in the 21st century world of work.

I participated in both the career speed networking and the panel session which involved talking directly to the students, informing them about my career path and educational pathway to date. The career speed networking consisted of 17 tables with 8 students on each table proposing different questions to discuss each time that the volunteers moved around. This worked really well as the students were engaged and eager to learn about my background and the company I work for. Throughout the event, we discussed the different roles on offer within the automotive industry and the considered pathways into the industry. Social media trends were the hot topic of conversation, with students expressing their own ideas on what the dealerships could potentially post on social media and the different roles within marketing that were discovered throughout our conversations. As well as this we also discussed GCSE choices, which were vastly approaching. It was interesting to discover that the most indecisive subject was IT, of which I quickly expressed its usefulness in the world of work, especially with spreadsheets and presentations!

The panel session involved myself and three other volunteers talking to the students about our careers and our educational pathways to date. Once we had provided the students with an insight into our career choices, they had an opportunity to ask us questions surrounding our decisions. I believe that this participation enforced Shelley’s notion that “the beginning is always today” as it informed the students of new opportunities and career prospects that hadn’t been considered before, as it opened them up to new roles that were not initially considered in the automotive industry.

As my first volunteering experience, I was both apprehensive and excited partly at the idea of ‘going back to school’ but also because I was hopeful at being able to inspire the students and inform them about the different sectors of the automotive industry. I wanted to interact with the children on a level of understanding as I never knew what I wanted to do growing up, and I got this impression from a lot of the students throughout this event. The students were well engaged and asked a lot of questions such as; GCSE choices, different paths into the industry, achievements and my educational pathway to date. Throughout the day I met some aspirational; Midwives, Teachers, Engineers and
Technicians. The overall response on the day was positive as the students were eager to learn about the automotive industry and the different careers as they were unaware of the variety of the jobs within the sector, both commercially and technically.

The event left feelings of accomplishment and positivity as I believe that I inspired students by informing them about the different pathways within the automotive sector and the insights to apprenticeships. This left the aroma of opportunity and optimism from the students, highlighting the importance in volunteer participation as the different companies foreshowed the students the different roles they could potentially pursue. I would strongly urge anyone considering volunteering to part take in events like this as it helps the students to retain a wider knowledge of the industries available to them. The support received throughout the process from start to finish was astonishing with easy contact and weekly conference calls to discuss the different activities throughout the day.

We were given detailed briefs of what was needed from us and what was expected on the day. I must add that we were well looked after throughout the event. My advice for anyone looking to volunteer for an event would be to just be yourself and chat with the students as they will interact with you. They are all interested in learning about the industry and gives them the opportunity to ask any burning questions. The most important thing to me following the event was getting my voice heard and inspiring students.

To find out more about our Outreach Network, sponsored by CDK Global, please click here.

Article by Alexandria Smith, Apprentice Marketing Executive, Perrys Motor Sales

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