“What’s the point in this, Miss?” Charlie said to me after I’d read out the Learning Objective, which was: To understand and apply the key features of a Curriculum Vitae. This is, unfortunately, a question that I receive on a regular basis and was not surprised to hear on this occasion. It’s the summer term. They’re tired. I’m tired. We’re learning how to write a C.V. Enough said?
“The point in this, Charlie, is to prepare you for your future, when you apply for a job,” was my exasperated response. He smiled at me, because he knew that that was what I was going to say. Having learned to write a C.V, I then informed my Year 10 group that they would be doing a mock interview with a local business person in a week’s time. Now this, was a game changer. Suddenly, what had moments ago been a lethargic atmosphere filled with the occasional groan and the tapping of a pen, became a hive of questions, nervous glances and the shuffling of feet.
What do we wear?
Who are they?
Do we have to?
How long for?
What will they ask?
Will I get graded?
The fear was palpable. I did my best to reassure my students that the process was to support them in their futures – I would have killed for support with CV writing, covering letters and interviews when I was at school (despite being aware of the potential for intense boredom). The requirement to actually talk to a real adult human (because we all know that teachers don’t exist outside of school and parents/guardians don’t count) was utterly terrifying, but it also brought them to life. I abandoned the following lesson I had planned and did a Q&A session instead. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns was what to wear…
Having watched example interviews, bits of The Apprentice, practised shaking hands, along with paralinguistic techniques and answers to key questions, we were ready. Inevitably, my register looked a little low on the day, which was a shame; the anticipation is always horrid, but dissolves the moment you are there – I reiterated this many a time.
Much like the Prom, there were some wonderful outfits – with far fewer sequins, obviously. Clearly, many students had taken no notice of direct instructions for appropriate attire, looked for inspiration from staff OR our sixth formers, who must follow a business dress code. This did, however, add a certain charm to the day. It was fascinating to see which individuals had taken the day seriously, clearly keen to succeed and desperate to impress. Those with this attitude, did not fail to make a fantastic impression. Those without, will hopefully have learned the value of the exercise – a glimpse of the real world. A glimpse outside a place where certain excuses don’t wash.
We are rolling out the careers sessions again next year. I would encourage every school to organise mock interviews – writing CVs and covering letters alone don’t quite cut it. With an immediate and raw experience to prepare for, I found that many students really came into their own.