Students get to network with the best

04 December 2018

On November 29, Lord's Cricket Ground hosted another thrilling Explore your Horizons: Speed Networking Event, organised by Team London and the London Enterprise Adviser Network. Now in its fourth year, the event aims to reduce barriers to social mobility for young, under-represented and disconnected Londoners, by introducing them to business volunteers who advise them on the world of work. 

Over 240 students from 17 schools across London attended the event. They were all Years 9 and 10, soon to be taking their GCSEs, and at the beginning of their career journey: the day was an important one to many of them. However, compére Darwin Bernardo, co-founder of Nutmeg Community, Queen’s Young Leaders Advisory Panellist, and long-time supporter of the event, put everyone at ease. He started the proceedings with ice-breaking activities, and workshops on body language and networking skills. The young people relaxed into the day.

Growing up, I never had such opportunities presented to me. To see Team London and the London Enterprise Adviser Network continue in their mission to inspire shows just how committed the Mayor is in helping young Londoners get the best possible start in their career journey 

Darwin Bernardo, co-founder of Nutmeg Community

A future Deputy Mayor in the room?

Dotted throughout the day were speakers from a range of sectors. Kimberley McGinty, Skills and Employment Adviser at VGC Group, described her first job as a hod carrier and encouraged everyone in the room - girls and boys - to think about careers in construction. Verity Richards, Learning and Events Coordinator at Somerset House, gave a great talk about the creative industries – her description of waking up every day looking forward to work definitely piqued some interest!

Ken Lim, Software Development Manager at Tesco, gave a fascinating and engaging insight into the world of tech - with a rousing speech suggesting these young people could be future coders and developers and give technology and Artificial Intelligence heart and ethics. The keynote speaker was newly appointed Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard. She pointed out that there could be future Deputy Mayors in the room – it was a great way to kick off the networking event.

A fantastic opportunity for students

The room was abuzz from start to finish! Over 200 volunteers from a range of businesses and industries each had six minutes to talk with a young person, before they moved chairs. The atmosphere was busy, dynamic and full of conversation. The business volunteers had happily given up their time to talk to these students about career options and opportunities, and their enthusiasm for their chosen careers was inevitably infectious.

There were representatives from across almost every sector too – government, finance, digital, hospitality, defence, education, construction, entertainment, fashion, and technology – and included large and smaller organisations, from JP Morgan, PwC, TfL and Hilton Hotels to MMRAAP and Livity. 

One thing on the day was clear, though – these engaged young people had inspired the business volunteers almost as much as they themselves had been inspired!

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Explore Your Horizons event. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to gain a broader understanding of the wide variety of roles available across all sorts of industries, something I wish I had available to me at their age! It’s also a great way to get students networking with people they wouldn’t usually engage with, as well as providing them the opportunity to work on their communication skills. The same goes for me – I rarely speak to this age group so it was great to meet so many ambitious and enthusiastic children and share my career journey with them. 

Sophie Chow, UK & France Category Buying Manager, Pret A Manger

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