Sixth-form students from Sherborne Girls in Dorset can now practise job applications and brush up on their interview technique in preparation for the future world of work, thanks to a unique new careers initiative launched this week.
Entitled Bridging the Gap, the pilot scheme aims to give Upper Sixth students the chance to apply for 12-month paid employment at four fictitious companies, including a bank, digital marketing company, travel service and pharmaceuticals and healthcare company. The girls will be able to attend a series of workshops that cover everything from unpicking the job application and what to expect in the interview to body language and dealing with nerves. The successful applicants will then go through a rigorous interview process in front of a panel of business professionals in that sector, and will win a prize at the end of it.
The programme has been devised in partnership with chartered occupational psychologist, Geraldine Stanley, who says: “Given the current employment situation for young people, it is vital that school leavers and graduates can become competitive within the job market as soon as possible. The Bridging the Gap programme is designed to provide the girls with a real experience of navigating through a job application process and via the series of workshops, develop the skills to tackle other job applications in the future.”
Rowan MacNeary, head of sixth form, adds: “This generation of students face stiffer competition than ever before, but they are also working harder than ever before. A good degree is not enough – girls also need to know how to market themselves. This programme has been designed as a first step on the graduate career ladder – even before the girls have become a graduate.”
Bridging the Gap was launched to an assembled audience of students, parents and staff at Sherborne Girls with an speech by Juliet Blanch, a partner at international dispute resolution practice, Weil, Gotshal & Manges. She said: “When I was at school the most you could hope from the careers adviser was to be a secretary or a nurse, so the girls are really lucky to have a programme like this. This generation is unbelievably talented but it also needs to think big and push boundaries. The number one thing I look for in an applicant is someone who shines out, who is genuinely interested in the role and has researched it. Someone who doesn’t take no for an answer.”