I completed my placement at City Year, a charity organisation who recruits 18-25 year olds to volunteer full time for a year as mentors in a school. City Year provides pastoral, psychological and academic support to students, with focus on ABC (Attendance, Behaviour and Curriculum). Mondays to Thursdays are spent in schools with Fridays being a weekly training day for personal development.
I felt that my purpose with City Year was to grow personally, whilst also incorporating my psychological understanding to real life scenarios. At the same time, it has helped me to identify career options and tackle educational inequalities – something the company firmly believes in.
I found the application process pretty easy – I had to fill in the form for City Year and I brought my CV up to date and in line with what was needed. I also had feedback on my application, before I sent it, from the Employability Service, which was useful.
The interview stage was also reasonably straightforward, as the company just wanted to know what experience and knowledge I had of young people and their barriers to learning.
Every day was different, with a real variation in work and responsibilities. It has also been very challenging, as I have had to take on duties and complete tasks which have brought me out of my comfort zone, such as public speaking and performing in front of an audience.
Seeing that I am making a difference to my students makes it so worthwhile. I have also been allowed to incorporate my creative side through art and poetry and I am a member of City Year’s Poetry Society, which has allowed me and other members to bring a passion for poetry into the school itself. I have also been able to complete an Art Project with the National Gallery and this focused on identity and what it means to students. City Year staff also offer so much training and every Friday I gain new knowledge and things I can use with the students in my sessions.
Quite simply… to gain experience in a field I want to work in – so I know exactly where I want to be after my degree.
Dealing with young people and how to manage behaviour was a big one and I have learnt about the Whole School Whole Child Initiative. I have also learnt open mindedness – taking each challenge at a time. Mentoring, coaching, and being approachable are additional skills I will be able to highlight to an employer in the future. On the whole, the placement has been great for my own personal development and taught me to be the best version of myself.
I have always been interested in young people and whilst I am not sure that I will end up working in a school environment, this placement has certainly confirmed that this is the group I work best with. My dissertation topic will involve young people’s perspectives – and I am currently planning to conduct a study on the effects of media and the psychological well-being of young people. I am keen to see how their view of society is different from what is sometimes portrayed.
YES – 100% - Basically you use the knowledge from the first 2 years and apply it to a real life working environment. It enables you to filter down where you want to be in life and is also great for networking purposes. City Year has also allowed me to complete so much on-the-job learning and it has really brought me out of my comfort zone.
Yes – particularly in relation to working with young people. With this experience I now have material for interviews – e.g., dealing with challenging behaviour. I can respond to questions about working with young people and I am sure that this will help me to stand out when it comes to applying for similar positions in the future.
1. Why do City Year offer work placements?
City Year UK recruits talented 18-25 year olds to commit to volunteering full-time in a school for a year. It's a unique opportunity for young people to make a real difference to children’s lives while developing as a leader with the experience, skills and values to stand out from the crowd.
2. What do placement students get out of a placement with the organisation?
During their time at City Year, placement students are given the opportunity to tackle educational inequality and inspire children to be the best they can be. City Year gives them the confidence to lead from the front and develop key skills in areas such as communication, problem solving, empathy, adaptability and initiative. It is practical, hands-on experience, rather than office based, and they thrive as part of a team of volunteers who support each other.
Placement students are matched to a mentor to help support their professional development and have access to networking opportunities with a range of business professionals. The City Year experience acts as valuable career exploration before their final year and significantly increases their employability, providing a real boost to their CVs and making them stand out to employers.
Finally, they get the reward of a year filled with new challenges, new friendships and fun - and an experience they will never forget.
3. Could you see Shanice develop during her time with you?
Shanice’s confidence has massively improved since starting the City Year programme as she has been pushed out of her comfort zone. She finds public speaking daunting, however has pushed herself to do presentations and improved throughout the year. She has also joined a poetry group and performed at events. As well as developing her skills in areas such as communication, problem-solving and coaching, she has also had the opportunity to network with everyone from teachers to staff to business partners and has built strong rapports with the pupils she supports.
4. Do you feel that the placement has helped improve her employment prospects?
City Year UK supports our volunteers in developing their leadership potential through specialist training, career guidance, mentoring and networking opportunities, all which will help make Shanice stand out to employers.
5. Will you offer another placement in the future?
We are very keen to offer placement students the opportunity to volunteer full time with City Year UK as we really value what they bring to the programme.