My name is Adam and I am an aspiring web/app developer, currently taking part on the Ladders Software Development course based in Sunderland. For the next 3 weeks, as part of our journey on this course, we were tasked with employment skills workshops conducted by Youth Focus North East – an award-winning charity based in Gateshead which aims to amplify the voice of young people so they can be heard and we open up doors to new opportunities for both young people and professionals. Their goal was for us to feel more prepared for a job in the creative industries in terms of conducting oneself in the workplace. It was the first time I met students from the other which was very exciting and interesting to hear about other experiences!

There were some particularly fun and innovative tasks for us to complete as both teams and on our own. A highlight was drawing a very unprofessional person which somehow went from unprofessional to someone that legitimately needed the support and tools to progress. There was a lot of creative freedom in this task, as well as the other activities throughout the day, which made the sessions very refreshing.

(To put the cherry on the cake, we were given about 8 Domino’s pizzas for lunch. There isn’t much more to say about that. Pizza is great.)

In the afternoon of the first session we discussed further on professionalism. I think this session helped me the most as I always need to work on my professionalism, knowing the right things to say depending on the situation and have a foundation of tools to help maintain that professionalism. We also focused on team work, which included building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows (most of which seemed to go missing afterwards…I wonder why!?).

Another focus near the end of the employability sessions was timekeeping. We discussed what we did with our day and how we could change it so that we have more time. It was a good thing to go through as it helped me realize how much time I spend procrastinating rather than getting on with things that are necessary. We also learned how to manage time more effectively which helped up with looking for jobs, managing time at work and making sure all other errands are done.

We also covered confidence – a huge, mandatory aspect of being employable. This was at first covered in an interview scenario, but moved onto confidence at work and the so called “fake it until you make it”. This confidence part of the work shop culminated in splitting us into our groups and asking what sort of confidence is needed at a job in our chosen industries. Myself and Zak ended up drawing Skeletor as a web developer who was very confident in both developing websites and with management skills. This activity in particular really helped put things into perspective and gave me that extra boost for future endeavors.

Overall, the whole day was a success and both Zoe and Alex (Regional Development officers at Youth Focus) were fantastic at presenting and managing the group. The employability sessions ended with Ladders students feeling that took that extra step, not learning about their chosen creative areas, and instead spending some time on alternative techniques in order to progress in the creative and digital industries.