Jennifer Walker from Milne’s High School in Scotland is the winner of our 2018 AstraZeneca STEM Student of the Year in Science. Here, she shares how the Career Ready programme has helped her develop the skills, confidence and opportunities to kickstart her future.
Being named as the AstraZeneca STEM Student of the Year for Science is a great honour. I feel that I have gained so much form the programme and this is the icing on the cake. Career Ready has had such a positive impact on my life by helping me to find what I want to do in the future and Brian – my mentor – has really helped to build my self-confidence.
Before Career Ready I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do as a career or even what I wanted to study. I had no work experience and I didn’t know what job opportunities were available. Having only just moved into the Moray area, I had no network of family or friends which can be really helpful in finding a career or a first job. I also lacked the confidence to seek part-time work to go along with my school studies.
During my time on the programme, I was mentored by Brian who works for Chivas Brothers and enjoyed a four-week paid internship at his workplace. Being able to experience a proper (and paid!) internship is so important for people my age as it enables you to experience the world of work. Instead of just being told something is useful, you get to see the real world applications of it. They also give you the chance to find out about jobs you never knew existed by exploring a company, see what people love about their jobs and discover your own passions.
It’s totally impossible for me to pick one part of my internship at Chivas Brothers as a favourite as I experienced so many diverse jobs, each with its own amazing aspects. All the people I worked with were also so welcoming and encouraging.
As a result of the Career Ready programme and my internship, I have decided that I want to pursue a career in the whisky industry. Brian – my mentor- provided me with the opportunity to meet some of the graduates working with the company, so I could learn from them, and he helped me with my university application. I have now accepted an unconditional offer to study Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, which I’m very excited about, with the view of entering the industry in the future.
Career Ready has been such an incredible, life-changing experience for me that I would encourage anyone thinking of joining the programme to do so!