Every weekday students across all year groups have had the opportunity to join in remotely with this Futures Department input, with over one hundred participants in the first four days alone participating in talks including topics such as law, journalism, stockbroking and marketing.
Careers advice at school is a funny thing. I personally can remember very little of the hundreds of hours I spent in lessons whilst at school, but find if I ask anyone what careers advice they received in their youth, they would be able to recall it almost instantly. You tend to get very opposite responses, varying from what can politely be described as ‘very little’ to a detailed account of a conversation or talk that had a huge impact on that individual. There does not tend to be much in between, very little middle ground. All or nothing, good or bad, right or wrong.
As Head of Futures I believe that if I am to have a genuinely positive impact a key part of my role is connecting people, to help provide those opportunities for inspiration. Which is why when the school closure was confirmed, I had to go back to the drawing board. I had planned in various events for the summer term around the theme of promoting careers insight. Whether it was lunchtime drop ins with professionals for the 4th Form, or a round robin of talks for the Lower 6th, this all now had to be re-shaped and adapted.
What I am finding with the benefit of hindsight is that this has actually created a real opportunity to try something different. It is a big ask to request that busy professionals who often are based outside of Shropshire to take a day out of their work to visit the school. It is less of an ask though to see if that same professional could take a little time out of work around lunchtime to have a fairly relaxed but informative chat with some interested students on Zoom. Since putting the feelers out with our wonderful alumni network about this idea, I have been inundated with offers of help, with talks now booked in well past the half term break. As an example, Jimmy Burns talked students from 4th Form upwards through his career in the financial world, and shared the following on participating remotely: ‘As someone who is based in Scotland, I am not able to visit Shrewsbury School as much as I like. Meeting the students in this way makes it easier for me to offer this type of support to the school more frequently, and in my view, is reflective of how many industries will interact in the future’.
Similarly the student take up and engagement, though it is ‘early days,’ appears to be very positive. It is really pleasing that students from schools and colleges start to join in, which is one of the benefits of connecting in this way. Upper 6th Former Charlie Hancock attended the talk with Journalist and Filmmaker Hugo Ward and provided the following thoughts, ‘as a busy 6th former I had struggled to attend careers lectures even when they interested me. However this new online format proved extremely convenient, allowing me to attend Tuesday’s virtual lecture. If other students have struggled to attend these lectures in the past, I would definitely recommend that they find forty minutes in their day to attend a virtual lecture which is relevant to a career they are interested in’.
Talks for next week are confirmed and open for bookings through this link. All year groups are welcome and what I hope is that for those who attend, they will provide some real insight and potentially, those precious moments of inspiration which they can talk about in the years to come…