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On Friday 27 January Airwalk Reply welcomed 20 students from Oldham Sixth Form College to our Nova office in Victoria, London.
As part of the Airwalk Leadership and Programming Academies, the Career and Higher Education (HE) Insight Day was an opportunity for the OSFC pupils to network with a range of stakeholders from a broad range of disciplines within both Airwalk Reply and Reply as a whole.
The overarching aims were three-fold, firstly to provide the sixth-formers with an understanding of what they should be doing over the next four to five years to make them stand out as graduate candidates, once they complete their HE pathways.
Secondly, the day was organised to provide the pupils with access to a broad range of stakeholders from across the business, so that the academy cohort could gain an understanding of the inner workings of a technology consultancy and recognise the variety of roles that will be available to them in the future.
Finally, the students also gained the opportunity to build out their network of contacts that will be able to support them as they forge their paths into the professional world; one of the overarching goals of the Academies is to replicate the alumni networks that more privileged students at private and grammar schools take for granted, so as to level the playing field for the wonderful academy participants.
Workshops focussed on identifying and building skills for success in the professional world, how to win high-quality work experience and internships, building a self-brand, the effective use of LinkedIn, how to craft a CV and covering letter, and choosing the right higher education pathway, course and HE provider.
There were also Q&A and panel discussions with Airwalk Reply’s graduate programme participants and with our partners and senior managers, providing students with access to the knowledge and wisdom of those at all different stages of their careers.
The students relished the opportunity to pick the brains of so many professionals and were full of insightful and thought-provoking questions for those leading each session; it was brilliant to see the students begin to understand that there are a myriad of things that they can be doing now, whilst still in secondary education, that will help them get ahead when it comes to seeking their first professional role in a few years’ time. To harness this enthusiasm, the workshop will be followed up by 12 months of 1-1 mentoring for every student, with Airwalk’s senior consultants and managers meeting the pupils on a quarterly basis to help them build out their own career development action plans.
Ultimately, the day provided the students with an invaluable insight into the world of work and proved an inspiration to many of them.
Oldham Sixth Form College’s Careers and Employability Manager Kevin Reece commented,
“On behalf of all at OSFC, we just want to say thanks so much to Airwalk for a high-quality day of careers provision. The kids got so much out of it; for them to have access to a range of different stakeholders who could provide so much relevant insight and guidance on how to forge a successful career was superb. To have meaningful, quality time with some of the Airwalk partners really lit a fire within so many of them, whilst it was so valuable for the pupils to get an insider’s, honest view of how recruitment works in corporates. This knowledge is so powerful and can't be bought. They're tremendously lucky to have the support of Airwalk, for the students to come and see your offices and the busy, collegiate and professional environment really brought the idea of preparing for their careers to life; the impact that today will have on them will be vast. Our massive thanks to everyone involved in the day, the students and staff are extremely grateful."
Fahmida Begum, Oldham Sixth Form College,
“I just really want to thank Ali and the Airwalk team for the day, it was so useful and informative, but also inspirational. I’ve got so much to take away and think about. When I got home, I couldn’t wait to talk to my parents about what I had learnt. Both the Career Insight Day and the Academies as a whole have been such a massive help to me and the other students on the courses.”
The inaugural Airwalk Academies will continue to run until March 2024, with a second cohort joining in September 2023 at the start of the next academic year. In order to build on the initial successes of the first cohort, we are excited to be growing the programme beyond the north west, and will shortly be announcing a second partner school/college in the South Yorkshire area, doubling the number of young people that we are able to support in taking the first steps towards building a successful career.
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