Sara and Gavin’s Stories
Building connections and confidence for success
Remember how nerve-wracking your first job interview and workplace was? It’s no wonder some students lack confidence seeking their first job, especially if they’ve never experienced a work or office environment, or visited a parent at work.
Creating positive experiences that inspire and support young people to become work ready is key to United Way Australia’s youth employment initiatives, which aim to build the skills and confidence of students to gain employment.
By facilitating partnerships between schools and the local business community, students can engage in real-life work situations with career role models, gaining practical experience of the world of work and developing connections to the business community – something that is otherwise really challenging for many young people living in communities of disadvantage.
The preparation for and experience of mock interviews in particular have proved invaluable for Year 9 students like Sarah, demonstrating that job interviews are an opportunity to put your best foot forward, and not an intimidating experience to be avoided.
It was pretty surprising how they were all polite and weren’t scary when you first met them. You are talking to a real person. He asked questions and I answered them and then asked him questions. It was smooth – so it’s not really scary.”
Having completed her first mock interview, Sarah’s already working on improving her interview responses and anticipating future questions. She’s also got some sage advice for others who find the process a cause for sweaty palms.
Go for it! Just think about it as an experience about how it will go for the real thing. Don’t let your nerves get to you, just practice with a friend or a family member and you will go fine.”
The chance to aim sky-high
For young people like Gavin, the chance of a brighter future starts with the confidence to dream big.
But in communities of disadvantage across Australia, the prospect of a future with meaningful employment, let alone a successful career, is not something young people can take for granted. Growing up in an area with high un-or under-employment, some young people may not know an adult with stable paid employment. The idea of finding paid work for themselves can be a distant prospect.
That’s where United Way brings together schools, the local business community, students and families, taking a student-centric approach to supporting young people from their first year of high school, before they disengage. It starts with building student’s soft skills and confidence, supporting them to aim high, understand there are options and develop plans to successfully transition from school to work or further study.
For Gavin, a Year 9 student at Narre Warren South P-12 College, this began with linking his strengths and interests to a potential career path. Most recently, Gavin participated in a CV writing workshop and a mock job interview for the job of his choice with business mentors matched by United Way. Gaining practical skills, experience and links to the local business community is helping build Gavin’s momentum and excitement to start planning his future career – with plenty of time left at school to work hard and be supported to make it happen.
I’m looking at going into the astronomy field. The strengths I might use like communication and leadership – I might look at seeking jobs that have those aspects and skills. I learnt what I could improve on and what my strengths and weaknesses are.”
After today’s mock interview experience, Gavin explained:
I got that I could improve my speaking, they said I did a really good job. It’s built my courage towards a near future job interview that I might have. (Now) I think I would some parts differently, a different posture and giving a bit more eye contact.”
We wish you luck, Gavin!