What if the next revolutionary idea is in the mind of somebody who cannot afford to express themselves?
Leaving school and being launched into the ‘Big Bad World’ – quite literally.
It is commonly expressed that quality qualifications are very attractive on a CV, and in most jobs that is certainly the case. However, work experience is just as, if not more, relevant when applying for your dream job.
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to get into any career without the appropriate experience, yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to get that experience in the first instance. Not only do students need appropriate contacts, but they also require the financial support in order to travel, afford the accommodation or take the time off work in order to complete it. It seems only the privileged few get the opportunity to gain experience in the most influential businesses, in the greatest cities. There is certainly an inequality of opportunity for young people with regards to jobs and work placements.
It is this unfair system that needs tackling in our society in order to generate a high morale within the younger generation. During his time as Prime Minister, David Cameron set out his ‘one nation’ vision for creating a Britain where ‘a good life is in reach of everybody who is willing to work and do the right thing’ focusing on ‘equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome.’ He adds that everybody deserves the same shot in life. Similarly, our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, states in her opening speech “When it comes to opportunity, we won’t entrench the advantages of the fortunate few. We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.”
Nick Cowley and Rupert Taylor, alumni of Wellington College in Berkshire, agree and felt there was a gap for charity work supporting under-privileged students to get appropriate work experience in London. 5 years ago, Nick and Rupert created ‘Momentum’, a charity that aims to redress this balance by providing talented school leavers with a well-established alumni network and the funding where required. In an interview with Nick Cowley, he stated “Schools give great education to students, but what is missing is the career advice for them once they leave.” It is this that motivated Nick and Rupert to make a change and ensure all school-leavers get the same opportunities.
With stricter entry requirements and lack of social mobility, charities like Momentum give underprivileged students the chance to chase their dreams and give them an insight of what sort of sector they thrive in. Providing opportunities for those who may not have had them is a great thing that became an “obsession”, explains Nick. Momentum struck the founders as a project that would maximise potential and give the students ‘momentum’ in their early careers. Excuse the pun.
Momentum has been a huge success at The Wellington Academy and Swindon Academy, both in Wiltshire; these schools were chosen because of their links to The Wellington College. The students go through an application process consisting of: an application form highlighting skills and ambitions, then those who Nick and Rupert believe they can support are invited for an interview where they will be asked specific questions about their future plans and goals. Momentum aims to help everybody with a placement of some sort, but some requests are much better suited to somewhere other than London and so these applicants would be advised on looking for experience locally. However, those who are interested in business, economics, medicine, marketing, journalism and many more, are typically the ones who benefit most from the scheme. Their aim is to find potential in those willing to put themselves out there and apply for a placement. Furthermore, Momentum hopes to create a large network of people with lots of varied experiences so the students can use each other’s jobs and skills to create opportunities for other students. Then further down the line they can support others on the scheme. The ultimate aim, according to Rupert, is to improve social mobility so that we can make Britain a fairer place.
Megan Davies, Team Leader at Momentum, joined the scheme in 2012 when she was interviewed for a placement for journalism. In her first year, Nick and Rupert used their contacts and got Megan a placement with The Daily Telegraph, where she was fortunate to have a piece of her work published. Megan has been a part of Momentum each year and gains different work experience each time, ranging from Bristol Post, PR work and The London Evening Standard. When questioned on why she returns each year, she stated “I look forward to Momentum more than I do Christmas. It has given me so much confidence and I have acquired skills that I probably would not have learned if I hadn’t been exposed to Journalism in London. Journalism is so popular, so to stand out you need the best work experience you can get, and I would not have been able to do this without the help of Momentum. The work experience packages aren’t just any normal placements, they find you work in popular and well-respected companies. Momentum is like a family and we all look out for each other and I really want to do Nick and Rupert proud after all they have done for me. I’m lucky to be part of this scheme, but people should not have to rely on charities to get work experience, they should be given the opportunity if they work hard for it.”
The Budding Entrepreneur magazine is fully supportive of the Momentum scheme and has provided members of Momentum with the opportunity to write articles and get them published. It is important to give everybody a chance, for the next revolutionary idea may be in the mind of someone who cannot afford the opportunity to express themselves.
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