Pleased to meet you

The idea of speed networking is not new, but can be very overwhelming and scary for many.  Imagine trying to make a great first impression in the space of a few minutes?

On Monday I took group of year 13 students to the Got a Trade! SpeedMeet event at Glenfield College, where students got to meet industry employers from the trades and services sector.  The whole idea was that these students got to find out first-hand about career options, but also available opportunities for when they finish their school year.

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Waiting to chat with eagerly awaiting employers

The students I took all have an interest in practical work and love the idea of having physical movement in a role, and also being able to use tools, equipment and machinery. They also have a preference for working outdoors as well as indoors.

I recently ran a series of career workshops with year 12 students, asking them to identify their preferences/interests by way of tool based on John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice (RIASEC).  Essentially the students reflected on different traits (using a form with descriptions) and selected those that best matched their interests.

Of the students who completed the tool, 59% had selected the REALISTIC type as one of their preferred traits.  Realistic refers to being hands-on and practical, much like the boys I took to the event.  Whilst there may be social conditioning for males to prefer practical tasks, the Realistic profile had the greatest percentage across the 6 different types.   

There are many young people I work with present themselves in that way (or have interests that naturally are practical in nature) but are generally unaware of what trades are and the industries they come from.

Experiences are important and crucial to giving young people a sense of their interests and better understanding their potential strengths.  For example, I am absolutely dreadful at completing practical, tactile tasks (the spice rack I made at school is unintentionally diagonal in shape), but relished volunteering my time to host a Christmas party for disabled children (I loved the people contact).

Parents and guardians of young people can assist with this understanding by encouraging their child to engage in work experience, voluntary work, group activities and projects.  Young people often don’t know where to start, so be the connector and help them find that first job or group.  Ask them what they liked, or didn’t like about it.  Affirm what they did well or learnt about themselves.

So back to the students at the SpeedMeet event.  We arrive and the boys all go quiet.  I’m sure they were all feeling nervous on the inside.  As soon as the event started they talked non-stop for an hour and half, meeting and greeting employers ranging from auto-mechanics, engineering, health, hospitality, construction, landscaping…

They were so energised by the end and had a noticeable lift in their confidence and energy levels.  Young people can do incredibly well once given the opportunity and right forums and situations to engage.  It is my hope that the experience will give them further confidence to confidently talk to employers.  Career development and employability skills in action!

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