Do you remember your first day in your current job? The challenge of having to navigate your way around a new company or learn how to perform a new role? Now imagine if you had to learn everything from scratch - how to behave, how to communicate, how to dress for work. Things many of us take for granted which may appear less tangible but are no less important.
This is the scenario faced by many young people starting out in the world of work, who don’t necessarily come from professional backgrounds.
Programmes such as the IntoWork mentoring scheme, run by the Brokerage in partnership with Lloyd’s, aim to help school leavers and recent graduates from London boroughs build their ‘employability skills’ and networks within the insurance industry. Tristan Latarche , a graduate Capital Analyst at Hiscox, recently took part in the scheme and talks about his experience as a mentor.
My mentee Peter has a keen interest in catastrophe modelling. A recent economics graduate, he has a strong academic record and impressive knowledge of the industry, but was keen to refine the professional skills required to secure a job offer.
Over the course of 10 weeks, we met on a weekly basis with each session focusing on a different professional skill such as professional image, goal setting, presentation skills and CV and cover letter preparation.
One of the highlights for me was seeing his confidence growing in an interview situation. Together we worked on framing his experiences to best showcase his competencies and their relevance to the role he wanted, then I organised a mock interview with a friend who works as an underwriter.
Nothing about his life experiences had changed, but the improvements made to the focus and fluency of his answers really helped bring them to life. These ‘softer’ skills can be taken for granted, but are hugely important and not always immediately obvious to someone that doesn’t have professional contacts within their family or immediate network.
Schemes like this are incredibly important, as they enable hard working ambitious graduates like Peter the opportunity to build the confidence and skills required to impress potential employers.
Commenting on how the scheme had helped him, Peter told me: “The Lloyd’s IntoWork Programme organised by The Brokerage has provided me with a wealth of knowledge about insurance, and invoked a new confidence within myself in a short amount of time. Due to the positive experience of the scheme, I am now keen to pursue a career in insurance.”
These schemes are also fantastic development opportunities for mentors. I was attracted by the opportunity to develop the people management and mentoring skills valued in management positions, which aren’t always tested in junior roles.
It also helped me gain perspective on how intimidating the leap into the professional world can seem, especially for those from backgrounds that aren’t currently well represented within the industry, but also how much of a difference a small amount of advice and belief can make to someone just about to start a career. I’d definitely recommend the scheme to others in Hiscox and the wider industry.