Here in JCI London we love to volunteer! On Tuesday 4th February our Training Director Lavu Njobvu volunteered to interview Year 10 students at Archbishop Tenison's CE School in Croydon. Here is his account of what the experience was like for him:
The moment Chantelle mentioned I would have the opportunity to put together events/workshops and training for professionals, I was so excited. For the last few years, I had been looking for a chance to volunteer my skill-set and put it to good use by helping others who could benefit from it. I was particularly interested when she mentioned the possibilities of volunteering to give back to students/graduates to prepare them for the real world by giving them transferable skills. I was excited because it reminded me of how I started my career, and most importantly, this was what I was looking for in my life, the opportunity to go back to my core roots of helping young people. Chantelle mentioned that The Archbishop Tension's Church of England School were looking for volunteers to take part in a mock interview day. I booked a voluntary day off work and happily put my name forward because this was something I wanted to do. Before attending, the teachers at the school prepared the students on how to prepare for a job interview, and they had applied for fictional jobs, which the other volunteers and I would later interview them on.
I got to the school just after 8 am to meet the staff and other volunteers who were also taking part in this project. Just before 9 am, I saw the students make their way to the hall where the other interviewers and I were seated. They knew exactly where to sit, and the mock interviews commenced. It was interesting because these kids must have been about 13 or 14 years of age, and I couldn't help but think about how important it is to prepare them for situations like this. At some point in their lives, they're going to go through and experience applying for jobs and going through interview processes. I was particularly impressed with how well the school had prepared them; some of the students I interviewed articulated themselves very well and knew what to say. One of the key take-away messages I gave the students individually, and as a whole year group in their assembly was to expect failure. I told them that failure would be part of the journey they go through in their lives, and that applies to all of us. There will be times when we don't get the job we want because they've given it to someone else. The rejection can come in the form of an email saying, "Thank you for your consideration, but unfortunately…."
(You know the rest) I've been there time and time again, so I know how emotionally draining it can be. As well as informing them about failure, it was vital for me to highlight some of my own and how I overcame them. It was also crucial for me to emphasize the importance of not giving up, no matter what life throws at you, and having a mindset that's driven to succeed at everything we do. In life, we either learn, or we win, there's a lesson to be learned from every situation. It's up to us on how we apply those lessons to our lives; we only lose if we give up.
I felt proud of my team and everyone who took part in doing this because one of the most significant issues in formal education is the lack of preparation these kids have to know what to expect in the real world. I feel like schools, colleges, and universities primarily focus on preparing young people for higher education and not the real world. I think back to my time in full-time education. When I left, it was a "Thanks for coming, all the best with your future"
type of attitude. I had no idea what to do and how to navigate to the next stage in my life. I've had similar conversations with friends who finished University, as soon as they left, they felt so unprepared for the real world, not knowing how everything works – this was also the reason I put together the workshop for Transitioning into the Workplace.
I always think activities like this are essential for young people to go through. It gives them an insight into what to expect in the real world because they have no idea. I know this sounds cheesy, but young people are the future, the young people today are our kids, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc. These same people will become future leaders of our country, they will dictate policies, they will save other people's lives, and they need as much help and support in their development as possible for them to get there. This experience made me question a few things: 1. How often do we take little time out of our lives to help others (anyway we can), without expecting anything in return? 2. What value are we adding to society? 3. How often do we give up the things we are passionate about because of time? 4. When the story of our book is over, how do we want to be remembered? I want to influence change, inspire others, and provide young people with the life skills/mentorship they need when full-time education is over so they can have the right tools to succeed.I feel like I've found my passion, my calling, and my purpose again.
If any of you are interested and would like to join me on my conquest to reaching out to young people for development purposes via different channels, please reach out to us at JCI London because we are always looking for more volunteers, two hands are better than one. Thanks Lavu! These mock interviews will be available this time next year to participate in as well so we'll keep you posted if you would like to take part.