Gerry Dorkin, who works for Wells Fargo, is a Career Ready mentor and LAB chair and our 2018 Citi Bank Volunteer of the Year for London &SE. Here, he shares why he became involved with Career Ready and the difference he makes to the lives of young people.
My support for Career Ready came from a sense of wanting to give back, not to my local community, but to the one that I grew up in.
These are students who live on council estates and are struggling with the day-to-day. Their parents are likely holding down multiple jobs to make ends meet and the student may have the added pressure of being a surrogate parent to their younger siblings as a result. Through circumstance of birth, they don’t have the same support network that many take for granted.
What they do have, however, is spirit, ambition and a willingness to learn and to better themselves. All of which makes them excellent candidates for the world of work. They just need help to see it and believe it.
I was asked to make a presentation on my career journey to the new cadre of students at the college I support in North London.
The question I asked myself when I sat down to prep was “what qualifies me to present to these students?”
I was a Senior Vice President at a US bank, who had travelled to some 49 countries on business. Would that qualify me? I didn't think so.
What qualified me was the reason I wanted to support Career Ready in the first place - because I had been there myself. It may have been 30 years prior but I had sat in their seat, studying the same course, coming from the same background, dealing with the same challenges. This revelation provided me with the highlight of the presentation, a grainy photo of my 17-year-old self with big hair and an even bigger attitude, much to the amusement of the students.
Not every volunteer will have that specific qualification. But you will all have something. It might be broad experience across multiple aspects of business, graduate training or just knowing you have the capacity to empathise and provide guidance. Whatever it is, a Career Ready student will benefit from it.