Community Success! Annabel’s Work Experience at Think For The Future

I enjoyed getting an insight into a company that worked in education but wasn’t specifically teaching.

After winning the LifeStart challenge, I was lucky enough to take part in a week of work experience at Think For The Future based in Nottingham. Admittedly, before starting my week of experience, I knew very little about what the company did, even after doing some research on their website.

What I’ve since learned is that there are two main avenues of support they provide. The first is to work in collaboration with schools and provide behaviour mentors to help their students most at risk of exclusion remain in school. The mentors are typically able to relate to the students they work with as they have been in the same positions when at school themselves. This gives them a unique relatability to the students they work with. The other avenue is to run educational workshops for a range of “real-life” topics that can be delivered to all schools and across all school years. These can provide information on money, relationships, drink and drugs etc.
You can find out more about the company and what they do at their website: https://www.thinkforthefuture.co.uk

When I first started, I got a quick run-down on all the different areas of work the company does, and what each staff members’ role was within the company. Throughout the week I got to meet some of the behaviour mentors as they popped into the office between sessions at their different schools. I spent a lot of time during the week just listening to the conversations, and some of the most interesting were from the behaviour mentors. They were able to discuss some of the real problems the teenagers that they were mentoring were facing, and it was interesting to see how they dealt with them. Hearing about their work made me appreciate how important their role was, and how the students would rely on them for advice and support.

Whilst I was there, the company was looking to recruit a number of new staff to work as behaviour mentors. As a result, one of my roles during the week was to help with the recruitment. Some of my tasks were to compile lists of relevant recruitment agencies and to call them to discuss possible collaboration. I was able to gather a new pool of candidates for interview, and was even praised by the recruitment company for my professionalism in this task. Specifically, they couldn’t believe I was only on work experience and said I sounded like I had worked there much longer. This was super flattering, as I realised I understood the company and finally felt settled in my role. Before this, I had felt really nervous and like I didn’t quite fit into the dynamics of the office. I was also invited to sit in on some of the interviews of candidates after this and asked my opinions on their suitability. Again, these roles made me feel fully settled into the office and valued by the other staff.

Despite feeling settled into these other roles, my favourite task was helping to develop the mentoring sessions. We created a game to use in a session being run on money. Students would have to navigate a month and face different bills and unexpected events throughout. I was tasked with creating a series of ‘receipts’ – mocked up to show different things that someone may purchase during a month. I also helped to come up with some ideas for unexpected bills someone might face – like renewing your passport, or your car breaking down! I really enjoyed doing the research into the costs of items on the receipts and creating realistic weekly shopping lists. I then participated in the run-through of the game to check which things worked and which didn’t – and ended up in debt! The finance game was really fun, and I later found out that it was a great success with the students!

Overall, my time at Think For The Future was really interesting. I enjoyed getting an insight into a company that worked in education but wasn’t specifically teaching. I’ve done previous work experience at my old high school, which made me realise teaching wasn’t for me. After this experience, I realised there are other careers in education I would be interested in pursuing. Another thing I realised was that I really enjoyed the creative element of helping with the finance game. I have often enjoyed creative hobbies and it was great to know that some jobs would include creative tasks like this one. Finally, having office dogs around was so much fun! Mia and Millie would light up the office and made me feel comfortable and relaxed from day one. Office dogs should be allowed in every office!

I really enjoyed my week in Nottingham, and it certainly helped boost my confidence for moving into the adult world of work. I’m so glad I got the chance to see the different jobs that are out there, and it has certainly helped me gain a better understanding of myself and what I would look for in a job.