JCI Journey: How Neal Aced His Interview

JCI Journey: How Neal Aced His Interview

March 18, 2018 2:37 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As part of our series of ‘JCI Journeys,’ we’re showcasing members who’ve achieved our 2018 slogan: Be a World Changer.

In this blog, Neal Stirk (JCI Sheffield’s 2017 President), shares his leadership insights, and how JCI secured him an internal promotion.

Neal and Stephanie Stirk, enjoying the JCI European Conference 2016 in Tampere, Finland


Hi Neal! How did your JCI membership benefit your professional development?

At the moment – with how expensive life seems to be – you could be forgiven for thinking, “What can I get from £10 a month?”

Well, I’d be happy to tell you!

Before joining JCI in 2014, I wanted to move into the management sector, but didn’t quite have the experience. It’s that typical career ‘catch 22’ – all you need is for someone to take a chance on you, but first you need the credentials to make an impression.

A few months after joining JCI, Gareth Carson – JCI Sheffield’s 2016 President – asked me to be his Deputy. This was the perfect development opportunity to gain that vital leadership experience. So of course, I jumped at the chance!

Neal Stirk (bottom right) representing JCI Sheffield at JCI European Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden

As JCI Sheffield’s President, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and honed my skills as a leader. It wasn’t always smooth sailing; at the beginning of my presidency, there were personality clashes in the team, and things rarely went right first time. However, we also achieved great successes and ran multiple projects that made an impact in our local community.

It’s easy to view challenges as a negative. Yet, if you overcome these team setbacks, you develop as a leader and learn a few skills that set you apart in interviews.

Neal Stirk compering at JCI Sheffield’s Gala Dinner 2017

In November 2017, I noticed an internal job posting for a team leader position. I’m delighted to say…I got the job! According to the interview feedback, I was offered the role because I’d pushed myself and proactively sought out leadership experience. My interviewers were impressed that I’d managed a team of hardworking JCI members, and admired my openness about the challenges our team had faced – and how we’d learnt from our mistakes. I’m 4 months into my team leader role, and really enjoying my new tasks and responsibilities.

Neal Stirk captaining JCI Sheffield’s debate team

I’ve also graduated from JCI UK’s 4 national academies: Leadership Excellence in Action Programme, Marketing, Public Speaking and Training. I love applying the skills I developed at these academies to my new role. Most recently, I delivered a session for my team, focused on ‘What a Successful and Less Stressed IT Engineer Looks Like.’ The knowledge I’ve gained from JCI has definitely served me well, and I can’t wait to pass on my more valuable insights to my team.

So, back to that £10 a month. I’ve always viewed my membership as an investment into my future career (as well as a lot of fun!). Thanks to JCI, I’ve gained a pay rise and fulfilling job. For just £120 a year, a JCI membership is completely worth it and gives you a massive boost up the career ladder.


Inspired by Neal’s JCI Journey?

For only £10 per month (£6 for full-time students) you can also access amazing professional development opportunities. Sign up for membership here or search for your nearest chamber via our handy directory.

Check out JCI UK’s national events here. If you’d like further information about the training academies, please contact our 2018 Personal Development Director, Cheryl Hill.

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This post was written by Hannah Woodcock

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