Ian Butler has been a Career Ready volunteer since the programme started running in Colchester in 2010. As well as being a mentor, Ian is a member of the Local Advisory Board (LAB) for the Colchester Institute.

Most recently Ian delivered over 30 online CV and Interview skills sessions with students as part of the Career Ready Skills Festival. Here, Ian talks about his experiences volunteering; why he does it and the impact it has on the young people involved.

I remember what a shock it was ending school on a Friday and having to start work the following Monday, with nothing to help me transition. I felt totally unprepared for the world of work. One day I was attending lessons and being told what to do and where to go – the next I was in an environment with a different ethics, behaviours and expectations. At 11am I remember thinking ‘when is the bell going to ring for break time!’

Young people need to be in position where they have a sound understanding of life in the workplace and be able to demonstrate employability skills. They need to be able to ‘hit the ground running’ so that they stand a good chance of enjoying their work and contribute to the organisations business purpose.  I volunteer because I want to make use of my business knowledge and experience. Career Ready offers a whole package of experiences and education to support young people with the transition from schooling to work.

The experience of mentoring is always a win for both parties. You both learn so much from each other. I’m always interested in how a young person views the world around them. Whilst I help the students with their personal development and growth in respect of how they are going to direct their own future I also allow them to challenge my own values and pre-conceptions. We both change in different ways throughout the mentoring journey.  

“A lot of what Ian taught me has been very beneficial. He really boosted my confidence in preparation for the world of work; from questions that I would likely be asked in interviews, and different ways of seeking out job opportunities to how to handle and prioritise tasks. All of these have been very helpful to me since I finished college and started university. I am very thankful for everything Ian has done for me and I couldn’t think of a better mentor.

Thomas Shadforth, former mentee, Colchester Institute.

As a result of the Career Ready programme I see young people progress in three areas:   self- confidence, taking personal responsibility, and a better understanding of choices and consequences. The most rewarding moment is always seeing a mentee get to the stage when they present themselves as a well-rounded employable individual.

I saw the recent online Skills Festival as a way to help keep students focused on the job market during this particularly tricky time. The talent and dedication in the students I met during the sessions I held blew my mind. I really enjoyed meeting each individual and talking through their career aspirations and their contribution to society as a whole.

As a LAB member and lead mentor I ensure the components of the programme are working in such a way to meet the goal of getting students employable- and better still marketable – i.e. employers activity seek them out! There are many ‘success measures’ that can be applied to the Career Ready programme but ultimately we know Career Ready has done its job is when, following a work placement, an employers feedback is – “do you know what, if a had a vacancy I would hire them” 

Learn more about the difference you can have has a Career Ready volunteer.