Volunteering at the Inspiration for Innovation event, I got myself involved in a Career Speed Networking session, where I was sat amongst small groups of year 9 students and had a casual conversation about my educational background and how I got to where I was currently in my career.
I also took part in the panel session at the end of the event, where I amongst three other professionals answered questions in front of the year 9 group regarding our individual career paths.
Being asked to take part in this event was really encouraging to me, as it was nice to be reminded that people (other than myself) had recognised my work and achievements. Leading up to the event, it was something that was both really exciting and nerve-wracking, as outreach volunteering was something that was new to me, though something I had always wanted to partake in. I’ve always loved to have the opportunity to share my knowledge in any shape or form and the Outreach Network is one of the ways I could do that.
The energizing feeling I got after the event was something that I could never have expected. Public speaking is somewhat of a challenge to me, so being able to stand up in front of a year group, speak coherently and get my points across was beyond rewarding. Getting the lovely feedback from staff, pupils and fellow volunteers helped confirm it too. It felt amazing to finally take a step towards building my confidence, by doing something that honestly kind of scared me and at the same time benefitted many others. What also surprised me, was the overwhelming support from my colleagues leading up to and after the event. Again with the recognition, knowing that people (especially those at your workplace) care, and most importantly see you for more than just your professional achievements is so comforting. Sometimes in the workplace it can seem difficult to see some of your colleagues as more than their job titles, due to the transactional nature of the workplace, but opportunities like these are a nice reminder that your personal win, is a win that everyone can celebrate.
This experience has greatly increased my urge to pursue more public speaking and knowledge sharing opportunities, especially if they include doing so with the younger generation and the chance to slip in a cheeky word or two about mental health and wellbeing. I love a learning opportunity and the chance to grow, so opening myself up to new challenges like this is what I will continue to do going forward to allow my growth and confidence to be transferred across every aspect of my life to pursue my passions and maintain a healthy mind.
I’d highly recommend joining the Outreach Network, as it’s a great opportunity to pass on valuable lessons learnt throughout your career, with some word on how your personal decisions and challenges have influenced your professional decisions too. I think we can sometimes underestimate how much of an impact we as humans can have on one another, especially coming from a similar background or experiences. Your words and experiences can be so invaluable to a person looking towards you as an example or role model, no matter how small the interaction. Representation matters and getting your voice heard is especially important in industries like automotive where it may seem your voice is not at the forefront.