Joshua Wakefield graduated the Career Ready programme in 2018, whilst studying at North Kent College. After enjoying a six week paid internship at BP during the programme, Joshua now works for their Trading Operations team as Sustainability Trading Operator.

My family life growing up was good, I have an older brother and I’m very close to my family. I enjoyed school and performed well in lessons but I had trouble fulfilling my potential during exams, which I found quite frustrating. I then watched my brother go through university which really didn’t seem like the right route for me, so when I found out about school leaver programmes and apprenticeships I knew that’s the way I wanted to go.

I went to study business at North Kent College after finishing school and that’s where I heard about the Career Ready programme. Straight away it sounded like something I was interested in, and then when I heard about the internship opportunity I thought ‘yes this is 100% something I need to be involved in’.

During the programme we completed various masterclasses around CV preparation, how to speak to people, how to interview, topics that I didn’t necessarily learn in school and that were really useful to me. Before starting I knew I would be doing these sessions, but I didn’t realise how enjoyable they’d be. I was also paired up with a mentor who was able to talk through topics that I hadn’t even thought about like how to act and dress at work, how to hold myself, how to greet people.

All these things might seem minor but are really important when going into work for the first time and really helped me during my internship with BP. 

The thing I gained most from the Career Ready programme was confidence in the workplace. Prior to my internship at BP, I’d only done a week or so work experience in a small business as part of my GCSE’s. So, for someone who had never been in that kind of professional situation before, it was a big thing to learn how to behave in meetings, act around people and have confidence whilst doing so.

After being prompted to create a LinkedIn profile during one of the masterclasses, I learnt about what a professional network was and throughout the programme and my internship was able to grow my own network. I’ve found it really useful to keep in touch with friends from the programme and colleagues that I worked with during my internship, I made some contacts for life. That kind of networking was what lead me to stay in touch with BP and eventually end up working there.

If I’m honest, when I started the programme, I didn’t actually know that any sort of role like the one I have now existed.

Without the Career Ready programme not only would I have not been open to the role at BP, I wouldn’t have been open to the whole oil and trading industry itself. Without Career Ready I wouldn’t have access to any of the opportunities I have had.

In the future I want to stay within sustainable energy and the technologies around it, which is a continually growing space. When I think about friends and peers that I know from secondary school, I’d say that I’m definitely ahead of them in terms of having a well established job. What I’d actually say is that I have a career, not just a job and I’m very lucky that at 20 years old I can say that.

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