EduChat: Why It’s Important To Speak With Students About Your Career

Cambridge Uk

Having dinner with a friend the other night, he told me that his company recently took on a work experience student. I know that his company had been very closed to engaging with young people before, having previously tried to encourage the company to take on work experience students, or apprentices. I asked him what changed the boss’ mind?

He was a governor at the school the student came from.

For the first 7 years of my education, I lived in a town a little out of Cambridge. A town that is known for being poor, with low aspirations. It was grotty – the high street had no bookshop, and people just chugged on with their grey lives. The two schools I went to were OK, the teachers were great, but we weren’t exactly rich kids. No one really talked to us about achieving great things. Inspiration and opportunity were not things I remember from that time.

At the end of the school year, my parents moved us to a town a little further away. They’d bought a run-down but massive house in a village with a high achieving school. Things were so much different there. As a teaching school (for teachers), classes were varied and exciting. We were encouraged to do extra things – I got into Japanese because the deputy head singled me out in a corridor and asked me to represent the school at a residential with visiting Japanese students.

With my job now, I encourage people to go into schools and speak with students. We have careers talks and activities, help with things like mock interviews and CVs (because most teachers have never been through a business hiring process and have no idea) and we have fun motivational activities like our Dragons Den days. Our funding runs mainly through Cambridge, with a number of pockets outside as well.

Students in Cambridge, especially those near the centre, are inundated with opportunities and connections. Invitations to look around Amazon’s drone development centre, coding workshops, visits from high influential people are all things the students take for granted. This is their world. People working in Cambridge are likely to be successful themselves, and are engaged with different things, like being a governor at a school. They are motivated to go into their local area and do what they can to help young people.

The gap between the rich and the poor is widening all the time, and a chat with my teacher friend over Christmas made me realise how little schools in the countryside get in comparison to schools in Cambridge. It’s not just a question of money – schools don’t pay for the things they get offered – it’s about the engagement of the professionals around them. A town of people working in science, technology, engineering and maths is much likely to give back than a town of people working in retail and hospitality (which is a huge shame because those two are massive skills gaps that we have).

Not everyone needs to be a scientist, or an engineer, or a business owner. But I believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to be inspired by someone they can relate to. I want to offer the same opportunities we give to Cambridge students to young people in other areas. I want for students who are at schools that don’t have cool governors to be able to apply for work experience at amazing companies.

School is much more than learning things to pass tests. It’s where we develop our dreams and goals. It’s where we align our ambitions ready for takeoff. Even though it’s a massive faff to take time out of the office to visit a school, people who do so are helping young people aspire to by like someone they might relate to. All it takes is one piece of advice about interviews, or one encounter to set someone up with enough drive to fuel them to success.

There are lots of projects across the UK that you can sign up for to speak in schools, if you work in science, technology, engineering or maths then you can be a STEM Ambassador, or see if there is a similar thing related to your line of work.

And if you’re not able to go to a school, how about taking on a young person for work experience? Reach out to your local school – they are always looking out for more companies to host students and would love to hear from you.

Again, I know it’s annoying to have to give time you’d spend on work to speak with students, but if you care about the widening wealth gap then this is something very simple you can do that has a huge impact.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi


  1. That’s very true that teachers have no idea how companies do hiring. I can tell you all about working at a school but no clue about anything else.
    I remember in grade 5 my Dad came to the school and did a talk about how his job uses French ( we were in an enriched French program) and a bit about his job as an insurance broker. I’m not sure how it was organised but I still think it was such an awesome thing for him to do.

    • Charlotte says:

      That sounds really great! Kids don’t even talk to their own parents that much about what they do as a job. Shall we bring this project to Canada too?????

  2. This is so inspiring. After reading this, I realized that yeah this is true. We people in the “real world” need to talk more to students about our career. Inspire them, warn them, just talk to them about certain things. Tell them the do’s and don’ts. I want to be able to leave a mark. I don’t care how small or how long will the mark last, as long as it contributes to a student’s success–i’m fine with it. Great insight you have here. Cheers!

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Mandy, Thank you for your reply! Even small marks on a young person’s life will have a lasting effect. I really hope you can reach out to a school in your area and speak to students about what you do!

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