Spoiler warning: put the helmet down and unbuckle your seatbelt, because it went much better than you might think…
If you haven’t repressed your whole school experience, you’ll probably remember it in a similar way to us – uninspiring and lacking in the careers department. I don’t think our school even knew what a careers department was.
In the words of Sam, our Senior Designer, ‘I hated school. If someone had taken me to one side and said “there’s a world out there if you want to do XYZ, and here are your options”, then I’d have probably tried more’.
How It Started
Once upon a time, we contacted a couple of places about potentially running an outreach programme with local schools and colleges. Our goal was to get young people interested in all things digital, and show them the ways in which they could get involved whilst still being at school.
We thought that if at least one young person was interested and showed some talent, then it would be worth it.
After some initial meetings with the Careers Co-ordinator for the Enterprise Scheme, we all decided on running a skills workshop at Kettlethorpe High School. This was a meaningful choice – it’s the old stomping ground of Robbie, Matt, Sam and Jordan. Inspiring young people, or settling old personal scores? Let’s find out.
Sam and Liam spoke to the Careers Advisor and the IT staff at Kettlethorpe (of whom had taught us when we were there) to discuss ways in which we could go in and help. The department already had a couple of teaching modules in place covering the basics of Python, so we expected the students’ skill level to be a mixed bag.
We decided that Sam would go in and run two workshops: spending the morning with a class of year 7’s and the afternoon with year 8’s. Here’s what Sam planned to cover:
- The basics of what goes into working at a digital agency
- Our story as a company
- A bit about Sam and how he got into the role
- Examples of routes they could follow out of school, for example an apprenticeship, going to university, or making it in the freelance world
- Some of the career paths that can come out of it – working within an agency or employed directly by a company as their in-house team
How It Went Down
Sam split the workshop into a trilogy. The first part was all about what code does and how you can use it. The class were tasked with coming up with a way of restructuring a layout to fit their concept. Part Two saw them implementing their concepts and testing them. The final part brought everything together by teaching core technical skills to make the demos work.
Once they’d gone through the basics, Sam showed them an interactive demo he’d created, of Happy Mrs Chicken from Peppa Pig. It’s a basic demo but illustrates the key elements of his role – design, development, mobile design, and how to create something engaging.
The first thing we’ve got to say is how brilliant the students were. They picked things up quickly, had lots of creative ideas, and loved learning the nitty-gritty of coding.
Not only did the students learn a lot, Sam also learnt a few things himself: what it’s like to be called ‘Sir’ (weird), how to handle rejection (one student looked up cartoon plot spoilers instead of working), and how to control a class full of giddy 11 and 12-year olds, which was probably about as easy as staying alive in a Final Destination film.
Here’s some of the feedback Sam received:
‘Just want to send an email saying how good it was yesterday – Sam did a great job and was a natural teacher. To say that he hasn’t taught pupils that age before, he showed all the right qualities of patience, good rapport and thinking on his feet if something went wrong! I learnt a few teaching tips from him. His resources were fantastic (I will steal a few ideas for my lessons).
The students made real progress and loved what they were doing. In between all this, he also had a stall in the hall and spoke to parents after school also, which is a pretty full-on day!
I spoke to some pupils today and they were really buzzing about what they had learnt from Sam. You never know there could be some potential employees/career changes made from yesterday sessions.
Thanks for allowing Sam to come in and deliver and we look forward to working with you and your team in the future’.
We couldn’t be prouder that the students enjoyed Sam’s workshop, and hope that it’s inspired them to think about taking the digital career route. We’re also looking forward to (hopefully) talking to and guiding more young people in the future.