Megan Webster from The City of London Academy in Southwark enjoyed a paid, four-week internship at Career Ready, where she worked to support our programme work across the borough. Here, she shares how providing young people in Southwark with paid internships can be transformative.
Living in Southwark, it’s very rare that two schools will be seen hanging around with each other outside of school. We walk on different sides of the streets, avoid sitting next to each other on the bus, evade any eye contact with one another, all because we wear different colour blazers – the grey vs the purple.
When applying for the Career Ready program, I expected to gain a few contacts through networking at workplace visits with my school and I also expected to gain a good relationship with my mentor and my colleagues on my internship. However, what I didn’t expect was to make friends with the ‘greys’ or any other colour blazer for that matter. It just never crossed my mind that a benefit of the programme would be making friends with young people from other Southwark schools.
Whilst on our internships we dropped the school specific blazers and ties, we weren’t labelled as being from a certain school and we networked, we got to know each other and some of the interns that I got to know were in fact from St. Michaels.
St. Michaels and City of London Academy are two schools separated by postcode, by ties, and by blazers – but we found common ground in our future aspirations. In catching up every day over lunch, we started to realise that we are the faces of Bermondsey, Southwark and that grey and purple made what we know as The Blue.
Wider than this, we found similarities in our interests outside of school: the shows we enjoy watching, the sports we play, and the music we enjoy. This sparked conversation that soon enough helped you forget the differences in school and accept that we’re more than a badge we wear on our blazer.
We found ourselves meeting with each other at lunch time and discussing our mornings and actually caring about each other’s too. Without this opportunity given to us by Career Ready it is extremely likely that we would walk past each other in the streets and look at each other in a judgemental way.
I can say that I have created a big group of valued friendships whilst on my internship and without the program I wouldn’t have been able to create the Southwark Community among us.
Once we established this group, we branched this group into a wider community where students from Bromley, Holborn and Essex all networked with us at lunch times. This was even more interesting as different areas adopt different cultures which are intriguing to speak about. Some of them have polar opposite views to you and it is fun to learn from one another and question your own opinions.
This is the opportunity Career Ready can give you, you can put aside any premeditated ideas about someone and genuinely get to know them for more than the school they go to! Without this, we’d still avoid, stereotype, and take the mick out of each other because of the colour of our ties and blazers.