My first encounter with Making The Leap was about 4 years ago when I was in secondary school. We had a whole day dedicated to introducing us to the world of work. The main event of the day was a mock interview, hosted by Making The Leap. Their volunteers gave up their time to help us develop interview skills and I remember it even now as my first ever interview experience.
I was terrified about this for a few reasons. One of them being that my entire year group was dressed in smart interview clothes. I had to wear my school uniform because I didn’t have – nor could I afford – the clothes. I thought I fell at the first hurdle. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Actually, I was congratulated in front of 150 of my peers for receiving the best interview feedback of the day.
After my final college exams, I spent the majority of the summer racking my brain about exactly what career I wanted and what I should do with my gap year. I didn’t have any money to travel the world like most gap year students. It was only a couple of weeks before starting the course that I figured out that I wanted to be a copywriter. Getting an employer to give my CV a chance seemed impossible. I was heavily depressed and at my wits end. I had to bite the bullet and apply for benefits at the job centre.
That’s where I heard about Making The Leap’s workshop. Initially I didn’t think it would help me. The highlighted sectors were finance and law so I was skeptical about giving up three weeks of my summer. I took a leap of faith, though even as I signed on the dotted line, I was second guessing my decision out of ‘fear of the unknown’.
I only realised that I had heard of Making The Leap already when we were shown an introductory video on the first day of the ACE workshop. In that video were the same classmates I compared myself to and ultimately thought were better than me.
By the end of the first week, I knew I had made the right decision. The other associates were amazing! By the first Friday we were out after the workshop for a social evening. Everything started to click. Not just our group, but the point of the workshop. Soft skills sounded like such a simple concept. But digging deeper into the value of them – compared to the value of hard skills and qualifications – was a real eye opener!
The second and third week were the real challenges. A nudge out of my comfort zone was exactly what I needed. I needed to be encouraged to network and socialise with professional intent, reassured that I could choose a corporate path, and shown that behind the scenes of many companies there is a very relatable interior. I received my A Level results during the second week and did better than anyone expected.
Making The Leap built my confidence in every way imaginable. Public speaking is less of a challenge to me now. All my relationships have improved with effective communication. Most importantly, I can see how rewarding it is to help others. I’ve been able to get my foot in the door with great companies such as Foxtons, BNP Paribas and The Times. On top of that I know what direction to head in so that I can reach my career potential. I’m not lost like I was before and I’ve gained a greater sense of purpose. If there’s one thing I learned from the whole experience it’s that consistency really is key.
The support I was given after graduating from the workshop is unbelievable. Not only because Making The Leap’s team is quite small but because it was so tailored to what I needed. Making The Leap had proved me wrong for the second time but in all the right ways! My thoughts about it being finance focused and inflexible were very wrong. Even for a niche role like a copywriter, there was always help on hand when I needed it. I think everyone who comes through the doors as an Associate has the ability to leave and get a job if the aftercare provided by the team is used. I used it and Making The Leap arranged for me a one-week placement at The Times Newspaper with their Editorial Comms Director. Less than a month after that I was successful for an apprenticeship with The Telegraph.
I’ve come an incredibly long way in the 5 months since I left school. From staring at endless rejection emails and my bedroom walls to looking forward to a new year and new occupation. It was so empowering to be able to pick up the phone and withdraw my place at uni. I’m taking hold of what I do with my time now. As well as the 2 year apprenticeship, I’ve also started a motivational network on social media which I plan to expand next year. I’m also going to start writing a book.
In the event that you find yourself lost and lacking direction, Making The Leap helps you build your most stable foundation – and biggest investment – which is yourself!
By Elaeshah, aged 19