FEATURE: How mock interviews continue to help Harborough students get ready for the world of work

About 200 Year 9 pupils at Welland Park Academy took part in mock careers interviews with local volunteers

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 12:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 12:56 pm
Hannah 13 during the careers day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Red Williams spoke to pupils Welland Park Academy as they tok part in mock careers interviews with local volunteers. Here is his report, with photos from Andrew Carpenter.

Nerves kicked in as Hanna waited to be ‘interviewed’ at a Market Harborough school about her dream job.

The 13-year-old Harborough girl felt the butterflies in her tummy as she went in to be quizzed at Welland Park Academy.

Some of the Welland Park Academy year 9 students who took part in the careers day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

But it was all smiles 20 minutes later as Hanna said she felt a whole lot better after waxing lyrical about joining the media.

“I was nervous at first but my interviewer Michael quickly made me feel relaxed.

“It went very well and I’m pleased I’ve done it,” said the ambitious teenager.

“I love to write and I love to read and I’d like to become a journalist – and do photography as well.”

Chenoa 14. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Hanna was one of about 200 Year 9 pupils at Welland Park Academy lining up to do mock careers interviews with local volunteers.

Sarah Hix, a teacher and careers adviser at the 1,000-student school, said: “We’ve been running these here for about six years now – and they have been a massive success.

“We find that it’s so useful for youngsters to begin to think now about what they would like to do when they leave.

“And it helps to prepare them for real life interviews with prospective future employers or further education officials down the line.”

Sarah Hix during the careers day at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

She said their children were often anxious and twitchy before going in to be questioned about life after school.

“It’s often the ones who have the least to be concerned about who worry the most.

“I try to pair up students with interviewers who best match what they’d like to do,” said Sarah.

“They come out of the hall knowing a lot more about their future career choices and options.

Hannah 13. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“Our interviewers are brilliant and we are incredibly grateful to them all for supporting our project.

“They all volunteer to give up their time to come in – and some have come from as far away as Nottingham.

“We have everyone from retired police officers to prison officers and doctors come in to help us out.

“There are professionals involved in banking and commerce as well as business – and even a former RAF pilot to add a touch of high-flying glamour!”

She has built up an in-depth, highly-tailored database of up to 60 interviewers criss-crossing the East Midlands.

“Some of the students might think they’re too old.

Abigail Wattam speaks to one of the Welland Park Academy students during the careers day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“But these people have been at the top of their games for many years – and some still are.

“They have built up a lifetime of priceless experience, expertise and skills they can talk to our children about,” insisted Sarah.

“The students’ feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

“And this helps to set them up for our mock interviews when they reach Year 11 and they are 15 or 16.

“They are interviewed by two people then and that makes them think a lot more as they prepare to venture out into the big wide world.”

Interviewer Abigail Wattam, 29, who works for leading Leicestershire charity LOROS, said: “I love coming here to Welland Park to talk to the students.

“I tell them that they don’t have to commit to a career too early.

“They can always keep their options open and keep an open mind.”

Abigail, a youth engagement officer, added: “I want to make students more aware of the many opportunities out there for young people.

“We have volunteer students work with us at LOROS and it’s amazingly rewarding.

“And they’ll learn so much while helping us.

“Such as coming into contact with the general public, boosting their own self-confidence, and engaging with so many different people.”

As for the students, Hanna’s pal Chenoa, 14, of Desborough, said: “I want to be a medical forensic scientist carrying out autopsies.

“I spoke to Carmen today and learned so much.

“This is a brilliant scheme because it gives us a great idea of what lies ahead when we are being interviewed for real.

“We’ll be much more prepared and more confident when the time comes.”

Julie McBrearty, principal at Welland Park Academy, said: “Our school motto is Learning for Life.

“That’s exactly what we are doing here.

“We are helping to prepare our students for the future – and beyond our school.”

Saluting Sarah Hix, who’s the critical fulcrum making the whole careers day work, Julie added: “She’s a fantastic life skills teacher and careers adviser.

“Sarah’s right at the heart of an extraordinary day here at school and she really does make the entire day tick.”

Abigail Wattam speaks to one of the Welland Park Academy students during the careers day. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
The careers day at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Sarah Hix during the careers day at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
The careers day at Welland Park Academy. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER