School of life

As part of our commitment to our ongoing 'Shaping Your World' campaign we have instigated the 1% pledge. What this means is than 1% of our workforce of 20,000 colleagues are committed to visiting one school each a year. We have provided the resources for this such as videos, presentations, promo goods and careers guides. We're proud to have smashed our target too with over 360 colleagues going into schools to educate them about the built environment.

As one of the main driving forces behind the whole campaign there was no way I was going to escape unscathed for long! So a few weeks ago we visited Ernulf Academy in St. Neots to talk to Year 8 students. Having worked in a school for 5 years I knew what to expect as we approached the school gates. This was organised by the Skills Service as part of their 'Meet the Professionals' school outreach.

The basic format was that we would answer questions from small groups of 5 students for 3 hours! I really enjoyed finding out about their career aspirations and was surprised how mature some of them were (only one wanted to be a YouTuber!) One question was 'would you rather be poor and doing a job you love or rich and doing a job you hate?' - food for thought! My personal highlight was the boy who wanted to be just like his Dad and be a handyman - a very heartwarming and sincere answer.

Some of the questions that were fired at us really got me thinking. Especially the one about advice I wish I'd had at school before embarking on a career. Here were some of my answers:

Try lots of different things

When you first start out in a career it's your chance to try lots of different career paths. You are all potentially going to be working for the majority of your life (I am old and still have potentially 25 years of work left) so make sure you've chosen the right path. As your career progresses it will get increasingly harder to switch jobs as you become reliant on a certain salary to pay the mortgage and feed the kids!

Say yes to anything

Look how enthusiastic I look!
The first thing I look for when interviewing people is enthusiasm. This is because it's impossible to teach someone how to care about what they do. If you're willing to learn at every opportunity this will really pay off in later life. I found that by being happy to undertake lots of seemingly 'menial' jobs it gave me a great grounding to be seen as a really useful asset to the team. As you progress at work you don't have the luxury of learning for yourself basic digital marketing techniques so pick these up as early as you can.

Pay attention in maths lessons

I hated maths at school. In fact I retook my GCSE after only getting a 'D' first time round as I thought it might hamper me in later life. All the pain was worth it when I got a 'B' and vowed never to try any complex calculations again! But working in digital marketing has taught me that no matter how hard you try you always end up using a calculator!

Whether it be working out the percentage difference in bounce rate or budget management on a complex website redevelopment all roads lead back to it. Even in my home life it's essential to ensure bills get paid and mortgage payments met!

Be present

It's important that you present your own brand to show you're passionate about what you do and that you can increase your company's visibility. I'm doing it right now by writing this blog! I also enjoy the opportunity to get out and network or speak at industry events. If you're not keeping up to date with the latest innovations you'll soon find you're not adding value to the business where you need to.

I really enjoyed going back out and engaging with schools. It made me look at my own career in a new light. I'm thankful that so far I've been able to enjoy what I do - even if my career path wasn't quite as well planned out as perhaps I portrayed it!
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