Work Readiness Workshop At Coniston Capital

May 29, 2024

With the summer holidays fast approaching - although it might not seem like that for our young people who have exams between now and then - we were thrilled to be able to invite Behind Every Kick programme graduates to a work readiness masterclass hosted by Coniston Captial near Oxford Circus. Whether it be making the most of a work placement, maximising the opportunity of a summer job or taking your first steps into the permanent workforce, it's reassuring to know there are practical things you can do to ensure you get off to a flying start.

Natalie Odell, Operations Manager at Coniston Capital, has plenty of experience helping new staff settle in. She shared that knowledge with six young people who have completed the Behind Every Kick programme this year at Six21, Crayford Academy and Knights Academy.

Having descended the grand spiral staircase which leads to Coniston's impressive boardroom, all the attendees passed their first unwitting assignment of the day with flying colours. They greeted Natalie with big smiles, eye contact, friendly handshakes and by telling her their name. It's absolutely normal to feel nervous entering a new working environment and meeting new people. But a great way to overcome the butterflies is to show you're enthusiastic and happy to be there. It's amazing how many people, well-established in their working lives, struggle to do this, so getting into this good habit now is a real advantage when you're starting out. You'll notice really quickly how when you smile at someone, they'll smile back (well nearly always!)

Next up, Natalie asked the group what they thought the workplace cultures were of different professions. Medicine, professional sport, finance, teaching and creatives were all compared and contrasted in terms of dress code, pressure, language, formality, working hours and sociability. While the young people identified many differences between these sectors, they all agreed that being polite and showing enthusiasm applied to them all.

Following that exercise, it was time for a bit of everyones favourite - role play. In pairs, the guys were asked to take turns imagining themselves as a manager in a given industry and a new employee on the first day of a work placement. Could they make a great first impression? Based on the scores they awarded each other, it was a job well done!

The final task before lunch was to think about what to ask an employer before that first day of work to avoid making any unnecessary mistakes. The group came up with a terrific list of questions that apply to any job:

  • What's the dress code (if in doubt, it's always best to dress smartly on the first day. Then, if you find the culture is more casual, you can dress down to match from day two).
  • What time should I arrive?
  • Who should I ask for when I arrive?
  • What are the hours?
  • What's the work culture like?
  • Is there any reading I can do in advance? (that's a great way to show enthusiasm before you've even turned up.)

Fortified by the lovely lunch laid on by Coniston, it was time for the day's penultimate task - compiling a do's and don'ts list for when you're at work. Here are some of the key ones:

DO - arrive on time. Being late when you are new will make you feel stressed and will not impress your employer. On your first day, it's best to arrive 15 minutes early. That way, you have a buffer to find the building entrance and to go to the toilet. (Particularly important if you're feeling nervous!)  

DON'T - use your phone. It's so tempting. Worse still, you'll probably see other people doing it. But it's not a good look to be on your phone at work. You'll make a far better impression and learn more by being engaged with what's happening around you.

DO - ask what to do. If you're unsure about anything, don't be afraid to ask. The manager is there to help you. If you've finished all your work, be proactive. Ask if there is anything else you can help with or if there is something they'd like you to read. Again, that will help you make a much better impression than scrolling on your phone or reading the book you brought for the journey.

After one final go at role play - where the young people got to apply everything they'd learned across the day - it was time to grab a quick photo with Natalie and thank her for putting together such a great workshop which will allow them to put their best foot forward and smash any opportunity that comes their way this summer or in the future.