Sally Dillon from Aviva, has been a Career Ready volunteer since the programme started running in York in 2017. As well as sourcing volunteers from Aviva, Sally is the Local Advisory Board (LAB) chair of our York cluster of schools and regularly delivers Career Ready masterclasses to students. Here, she talks about her experiences volunteering; why she does it and the impact it has on the young people involved.

I heard about the valuable work Career Ready were doing in some of Aviva’s other locations and I was keen to lead the pilot year in York. My day job is Optimisation Lead, Finance Operations at Aviva, but I am also the York site lead. At Aviva, we’re passionate about contributing to the community – many of our employee’s children attend schools in York and we want to help build talent for the future by actively getting involved. Career Ready really sparked an interest with people in the office and I’ve had over 50 volunteers for next year’s programme!

I have been a Career Ready LAB member since the programme started in York in 2017, and have recently started to chair. It’s been wonderful to see it grow from 5 or 6 of us to 20 members now, with a real mix of teachers, local council and employers. Since the programme started, we have evolved the way that it works in York and the LAB is a core part of ensuring we have the right people mentoring, delivering masterclasses and hosting interns plus sorting out all the logistics for the upcoming events.  We have been really lucky in York and the employers have been very generous with their time and facilities.

I have also delivered a number of masterclasses. The ‘Know Yourself’ masterclass is a great kick-off to the programme; watching 50-60 students who don’t know each other interact for the first time and facilitating that session is always a test of my presenting skills. The ‘Interviewing’ masterclass is probably my favourite, we run this as a ‘speed interview’ session, with a mini-coaching session after each round and I see the student’s confidence and communications skills really improve.

I think Career Ready is a great programme that offers students the chance to experience the world of work, perhaps even giving them insight into careers they may not have considered previously. Had this been available to me when I was at sixth form, I would definitely have got involved.

Ben Hall, Project Manager at Aviva, York and a Career Ready Internship Supervisor

In terms of hosting Career Ready interns at Aviva, we have had 12 now, all on four-week paid placements. There are plenty of benefits and it’s a perfect opportunity for our staff to give back to the community. Having a young perspective on things like our marketing and communications has proved to be a real asset. Having talented individuals from the Career Ready programme around to contribute to all sorts of projects has led to real change in our office.

In terms of our own professional development, hosting Career Ready interns has given my colleagues, who may not get to otherwise, the chance to line manage and be responsible for a colleague.

The most rewarding part of the whole Career Ready programme is seeing the difference in students at the end compared to the beginning; from nervous, self-conscious and un-prepared to self-confident, well-rounded young adults – it’s brilliant!