This experience has taught me so many valuable skills both socially and professionally which I could never have gained elsewhere, so even though it may be daunting at first I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity.
When the opportunity to apply for Vodafone's Ignite work experience week became available, I considered every possible excuse to refuse due to the fear of being 170 miles from home without my Mum or Dad. However, after realising the benefits I could gain from the experience I finally sent off my application and was luckily accepted.
On the first day, I was met with just over 20 other young people who were all just as apprehensive as me. We spent most of the morning getting a little more comfortable around each other and we soon realised how much we all had in common. After a number of team building exercises, the day started to feel a little tedious. Little did I know, these activities would give me the confidence I needed for the coming days.
For the following three days at Vodafone, each student was assigned a 'host.' Although three days isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, it can seem like forever when you're going to be at a stranger's side. I was fortunate enough to be placed in the Learning & Development team with an utterly inspiring couple of women from completely different backgrounds. They ensured I was happy and comfortable at all times and truly cared about my opinions and preferences in order to tailor my work experience to me, making sure I got everything I wanted out of my time at Vodafone. The meetings they organised for us gave me a real insight into the company - not only into the multitude of job roles available, but also the endless possibilities of steps you can take to reach your ultimate career aspirations. We spoke to a versatile range of employees, most of whom were accepted onto one of Vodafone's internships. Following these chats, we realised that the focus of a degree does not determine the job you'll end up in, and it definitely doesn't mean your options are narrowed down. For example, one employee who studied criminology at university now works in marketing. Each of the workers we were lucky enough to speak to all had different journeys and experiences, and proved to us that you don't need to have a structured life plan in order to end up where you want to be.
On the final day, we spent time talking in a small group to focus on our 'personal brand,' which was something I'd never even considered before. This showed me how valuable your first impression is when meeting new people, and how this could potentially be the difference between getting a job and missing out. This exercise enabled us to discuss our values and morals, and showed how similar we all were despite our different cultural upbringings. Without this work experience, I would never have been told what a 'personal brand' is, let alone consider how I could improve it.
Reflecting on my week at Vodafone, I would strongly urge all young people to apply for any work experience offered by this company. The offices are relaxed yet professional, and all of the employees I've met are so friendly and welcoming; they really make you feel like part of the team and ensure you get everything you want out of the experience. One particularly useful task I was set was to create a CV. Though it seems a simple task, it is something I'd never previously received enough help or guidance for, and I can now say I have a CV I'm proud of. This experience has taught me so many valuable skills both socially and professionally which I could never have gained elsewhere, so even though it may be daunting at first I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity.