In our employability series, our Kickstart Marketing Assistant, Joanna, shares her experience of working with us and her journey to change career path following her studies. This series of blogs provide insightful knowledge from the book From Learner to Earner by Sophie Milliken, independent research and relatable stories about the process of finding employment. Use these blogs to support, inspire and encourage Kickstart team members in your organisation and anyone you know seeking employment.

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After graduating in English in 2020, my initial plan was to travel abroad and live in the beautiful East Asia teaching until I had truly experienced the independence of being an adult and embraced a different culture to my own. Similar to a lot of people in their early 20’s, I wasn’t sure what my ambitions were in the world of work and the best idea I had at the time was to go travelling and hopefully the answer would miraculously appear.

Due to COVID-19, a life-changing experience for many across the world, my only plans were placed on hold. It was strange to finish my degree in lockdown, trips to the library after a seminar or friendly meetups with anyone outside my own household were no longer an option. It gave me time to write my dissertation which allowed me to work peacefully with no distractions, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about what I might do instead as there was so much uncertainty around the global pandemic.

Almost two years later, the UK was just coming out of the second Lockdown, I was tutoring English online and I started to worry about my future. I watched as other graduates from my course secured full-time jobs or finished masters degrees and I felt I hadn’t made any progress professionally.

Extended members of my family asked me, ‘why don’t you be a teacher?’ They told me about their friends daughter who was a science teacher and had a car, her own house and loved it. I thought, what a great idea! I had gained some experience through tutoring and when I fancied, I could go abroad and use my qualification to teach anywhere in the world. Panic over. I was going to have a proper profession as a teacher.

I started the PGCE course super prepared, eager and hopeful. Two months into the course, I was having a completely different experience to what I expected. The PGCE wasn’t right for me as I discovered I was a practical learner and by month four, I admitted to myself and everyone else I was on the wrong path. It was a difficult decision, but I felt it wasn’t right for me and I needed to discover other career options.

I had pondered on the idea of a career in marketing before, but I hadn’t looked into it too much as I found many jobs require experience and all of the experience I had was in hospitality so I just forgot about it. But this time, I decided to work part-time in hospitality and gain experience. I had previously heard of the UK government’s Kickstart Schemes, how they are designed to get young people out of long-term unemployment. I knew three people who had done Kickstart Schemes and from their experience, they did not receive the training they were promised nor the help to find full-time employment after the six month contract. So, following these reports, my expectations were very low.

The first thing I have learned since starting my Kickstart Scheme, is just because some people’s experience of something is negative, doesn’t mean yours will be. On my Kickstart scheme with Talbot Jones, I am receiving training for both insurance and digital marketing and I am already receiving support to find employment in September. I am just shy of two months in yet I have learned so much, the opposite experience to what I anticipated.

The opportunities I have had have been overwhelming in the best way. Networking and educational events I never expected to be invited to. I was a part of a two day training event through MINT Business Club where I met lovely, knowledgeable people and gained insightful knowledge about marketing effectively for business.

I was invited to complete the MHFA England one-day course to become a mental health first aid champion through the amazing 2Waytenancy Solutions where I learned a lot about mental health in the workplace, how to spot the signs and the most helpful way to approach the person of concern.

These super valuable experiences I likely would never have experienced if I didn’t make the decision to do a Kickstart Scheme with Talbot Jones.

I have learned not to judge a company too much by what they do. When I first thought of Insurance, I thought of the expensive fee I have to pay every month to have my car on the road. I knew very little about insurance, who needed insurance and what you could get insured for. I thought, like many other services or systems in a capitalist country, it was just another way to get money out of people. However, I have since learned insurance is actually there to protect you, make sure you don’t lose your business or go bankrupt. It can be about helping or protecting people.

I never would have thought I’d be marketing for an insurance broker, yet here I am and it has been fabulous! I am very excited to see where the next five months will lead me on my journey.

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Read more about Joanna in Our People and our other blogs in the series to get top tips from Jo about Job Hunting, CV writing, Applying and Interviewing.