Alongside my colleague, Jennifer, we were tasked with delivering a presentation to Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) on writing CVs and covering letters.
We were both delighted to be involved in the programme as not only is it a vital topic for students (no matter what career path they choose), but we both have links at the school we were visiting. We are both members of NHSG’s alumnae group – Jennifer is a former student and I am a former employee.
It was great to visit NHSG again and represent the engineering sector. Cundall already has strong connections with the school, having held various open days at the Newcastle Office and we continue to attend careers events to promote engineering within the all-girls school.
During the presentation, we talked about how demand for graduate roles has never been higher. In 2016/17, Cundall received 3,000 applications for 30 graduate positions. For someone looking for their first job, it can be frustrating when adverts ask for experienced applicants only. We encouraged the students to think about what they do outside of school and how their skills and personal attributes make them stand out.
The main points that we covered were:
- First impressions are vital
- Your CV should be clear, contain relevant information and not have any untruths!
- Always tailor your cover letter – it should be relevant to the role. Copy and Paste is not the answer.
- Look out for silly mistakes – incorrect grammar and spelling is a guaranteed way to place you on the “no” pile.
- Use professional photos only and avoid inappropriate email addresses. Would you hire sillysam@hotmail?
My role at the school was always behind the scenes, organising events, presentations and award evenings, while Jen’s was normally sitting in the audience watching the presentations, so it felt very strange, and slightly nerve wracking, to be standing at the front with 70 girls staring at you, waiting for you to say something inspiring about CVs and cover letters.
It was great to see young women with ambition and high hopes for their future and feel we could be a part of helping them achieve their goals. Being back at NHSG reminded us both that it wasn’t that long ago that we were in the same position and how scary but exciting the world of work was. One of the teachers commented on how they felt that the girls could relate to Jen and I as young women… “don’t forget trendy”… young, trendy women.
From organising and watching the presentations, to now delivering one on behalf of Cundall, was a change I didn’t think I would enjoy, but the experience was a surprisingly enjoyable one and it felt good to give something back.