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Career Academies UK

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Ellis, Thomas Tallis School, London

Ellis is a Career Academy graduate from Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich, where she studied for a BTEC in Finance. She did her Career Academy internship at Talkback Thames and now works for Ascent Media, the world's largest provider of integrated global services for the creation, management and distribution of media content.

I've always been a career-orientated person, so the Career Academy programme was a great opportunity for me to to make something of myself and learn a lot about the workplace. I really believe that if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be where I am today.

I went on workplace visits to several companies including Credit Suisse, Citi and the law firm Herbert Smith.  I particularly enjoyed my time at Credit Suisse, where I learned a lot about presentation skills and CV writing. Since I've been working I've noticed that I'm able to apply these skills on a day-to-day basis.  Only the other day I had to give feedback on some presentations and I'm certain that my Career Academy experience helped me to do this more confidently.

Before, I wasn't the sort of person who could go up to a big group of people and make conversation, or who would be comfortable picking up an office phone.  Now it doesn't bother me in the slightest because my workplace visits and internship gave me so much confidence.  During my visit to Credit Suisse I plucked up the courage to speak to the company representatives and ask questions.  I figured that if they have the courage to stand up and speak to a big group of teenagers then why couldn't I do the same?!  I realised then that it was only by making myself known to other people that I would be able to progress and I'm sure this attitude has helped me get to where I am today.

My Career Academy Partner in Business (mentor) was called Peter who worked for the Bank of England. We had a good relationship and he helped enormously with my coursework.  I went there regularly and the whole experience was really beneficial for me, especially because he gave me a tour of the building, which was really fascinating!

I was surprised when I got my media internship at Talkback Thames, as there were only two media companies offering internships in my whole school and the rest were finance-based.  I felt incredibly lucky to get a placement with such an amazing company.  If it wasn't for the Career Academy programme, I wouldn't be working in media now as I'd never had anything to do with media before and didn't know anything about it. Media is a hard field to get into without experience, so I think I would have probably taken a different path into finance.

During my placement I worked as a Contract Assistant, mainly responsible for drawing up contracts and timesheets.  I spent time with some amazing people and got used to being in the workplace.  In addition to my regular tasks I went out filming for one day and also did some work with the props department.  I must have done well because they called me back for an extra few weeks and even gave me a pay rise!

I loved being around the clever, creative people who worked at Talkback Thames and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere.  I still keep in contact with the people I met and visit them regularly, so I made friends in addition to getting some really valuable experience, which was a bonus! Also, I made some great contacts for the future.

The idea of working used to be so scary to me before I took part in the Career Academy programme. I always wanted to do really well but I used to get quite nervous at the same time and didn't know how to achieve my potential.  I certainly couldn't imagine young people working for big employers and thought everyone was quite old.  The main difference now is that I'm no longer scared and realise the opportunities the world of work can open up.  Also if I don't understand something I won't be afraid to ask for help.

I now work for Ascent Media the company that own Discovery Networks Europe.  We broadcast 53 channels across the UK and Europe.  Because of my experience at Talkback Thames I managed to secure a job in the post room and have worked my way up rapidly from there over the past few months.  I now work in media management, making sure voiceovers and graphics are all in place and soon I'll be taking up a new role, looking after the technical side of audio content for all the channels. The company is great and I'm really enjoying my time with them.

I realise that I'm privileged to be where I am now, and I put my success down to taking part in the Career Academy programme. I would definitely recommend it to others as it's helped me so much. Even if they don't follow that particular career path, the workplace experience is invaluable for any student and will prepare them well for the future.