I hope you'll forgive the #DitchingThePlastic hiatus, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about my latest Inspiring the Future session from earlier in the week. I've been volunteering with Inspiring the Future for several years now, and it's a fantastic organisation that connects schools with inspirational volunteers from the world of work. I've been to sixth form colleges, secondary schools and primary schools, but Monday was my first visit to an infant school.
I must admit I was a little apprehensive about speaking about my work to children as young as 6. I had no idea how much they would understand or how much detail to share. But the school had clearly worked hard with the pupils in the run-up to Monday morning's assembly and the children were well prepared. I was on a panel with 5 other volunteers and we were each asked a series of yes/no questions - mine included whether I work in a shop, whether I drive a taxi and whether I work in an office. Interestingly only a couple of the questions elicited positive answers, and the children generally stuck to what they encounter on a daily basis – a lot of the questions centred around working in the big supermarkets, driving taxis/lorries and being a healthcare professional.
We then left the room while the pupils discussed what our jobs might be. We'd been asked to take along a prop or two, so when we returned, I was brandishing my trusty German dictionary. Other volunteers had changed into their nursing uniform, grabbed a laptop or notebooks. The students then shared what they thought we did; they suggested I worked as an office manager, so not as wildly wrong as the nurse who - according to the children - was a hotel owner!
To round off the session, we each explained our actual jobs and what route we took to get there. When I've done these types of events in the past, older students generally want to know how much you earn, whereas I was struck by the younger students wanting to know *why* we do what we do. It certainly inspired me to see that all six of us on the panel absolutely love our jobs, and hopefully some of that enthusiasm will have rubbed off on the pupils and will encourage them to think big.
If you've not yet signed up to volunteer with Inspiring the Future, I can highly recommend it. Your line of work doesn't matter, and there is a huge range of events, from intimate mock interviews to giant whole-school assemblies and everything in between. You can choose which invitations to accept, depending on the planned activity and your availability. But one thing's for sure, you won't regret it!