At Inspire!, we source, coordinate and support around 4,000 work experience placements every year. A frequent host, local nursery Minik Kardes, has hosted almost 200 placements through Inspire! in the last 12 years. We spoke to one of their Room Leaders, Shelley Flaherty, to find out more about their experiences of hosting students and why they remain so committed to offering local young people a first taste of the working world.
“We have quite a few students each year,” she told us, “from different local schools and colleges. Some may just come for two weeks and some have a year or longer with us. It’s really helpful and provides us with that little bit of extra support which is needed with lots of little children.” Caring for up to 48 young children at any one time, the nursery is always grateful for more pairs of hands to help maintain the children’s routines. “The students are very hands-on; they will help us in the rooms and be involved in the activities.”
But Shelley and her colleagues are keen to help students learn as much as they can while on their placements, taking them through the observation and evaluation process as well as supporting practical activities. “Obviously it provides support for us, but we also want to develop the young people who are training in this profession because we need more good quality people,” Shelley explained.
When we visited Minik Kardes, they were hosting Aliyah Harry (pictured, right, with Shelley), a Year 13 student from Clapton Girls’ Academy. “Aliyah fitted in straight away,” said Shelley. “She’s really supported us and has got more confident during the two weeks’ work experience. She is using her initiative more and more which is good.”
The key for students is to get as much experience as possible while on placement, said Shelley. “Some students, if they are not confident and feel unsure, will sometimes stand back. . . Just get involved, literally get involved and lose your inhibitions! The more you put in, the more the children will give back – as well as the staff. If we see that you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn, the more that we are going to give you opportunities.”
Extra effort and enthusiasm has paid off for some who, following their placements, have returned to work at Minik Kardes. Some come back as volunteers, while others have taken up paid roles in holiday time: invaluable experience on the CV of any student planning a future career in childcare. “More nurseries and other employers offering work experience can only be beneficial,” said Shelley. “For me having qualifications on paper and then coming into a nursery and having to put it into practice felt like two very different things. You definitely need that hands-on experience to genuinely know what it’s like and appreciate the job as well because it is very rewarding.”
“We couldn’t agree more with Shelley,” said Jo Barker, Senior Programme Manager at Inspire!. “Work experience is such an important tool to help students build their CVs and their understanding of the working world. We’re so grateful for hosts like Minik Kardes who truly see the benefits it can have for all parties.”
To find out more about our work experience programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7275 6078 to offer a placement or for more information.