School pupils get a taste of the world of work at Ochil View
Ochil View Housing Association provided a paid internship opportunity to two local school pupils to gain valuable “real life” experience of working in the social sector.
Jennifer McNeil and Kiera McMahon, who are pupils at St Modan’s High School and Alloa Academy respectively, were mentored by Ochil View employees Ailsa Buchanan and Kate Oliver for a period of four weeks.
The internships formed part of the Forth Valley Career Ready initiative, which links schools with employers.
During their time with the Association, the pupils experienced a variety of roles including void house inspections, estate management visits and front line customer service as well as undertaking various administrative tasks and attending a range of meetings with tenants groups and staff.
For the project, which they were required to complete as part of their internship, they were also responsible for administering the Association’s 30th anniversary communications with tenants.
On her experience, Kiera said: “I enjoyed my four weeks at the office and getting to know everyone. I also liked going to void houses because I found it interesting to see the condition some tenants left their houses in. However, the best bit was taking tenants their prizes for the 30 prizes for 30 days competition. I think I have learned a lot from the experience including time management, teamwork, the importance of a strong work ethic… and how to make a good cup of tea and coffee! I am also far more confident.”
Jennifer was equally complimentary about being given the opportunity and said: “While at Ochil View I learned a lot about the world of work. I also learned more about what career paths there are and the different jobs people can do. Before I started I thought I would be treated like a child being only 16 but it was the complete opposite.
“I was treated as a member of the team as soon as I walked in the door and no one treated me different because of my age. I also learned some important skills that I wouldn’t have learned at school like using excel, using a printer and learning how flexi time works. I think I have really learned a lot from working at Ochil View and truthfully I’m going to take what I have learned and apply it to any future jobs I may decide to do.”
As the employee mentoring side was purely voluntary, both Kate and Ailsa decided themselves that they would like to take part and again both found it to be a positive experience.
Kate said: “I wanted to become a mentor as I felt I would have really benefitted from something like Career Ready when I was at school. Kiera was very shy when she started her internship, and she commented to me that her first day was the scariest thing she had ever done. After the four weeks internship, she had to give a presentation on her time at Ochil View, which she did with such confidence; it was hard to believe it was the same shy girl that had started four weeks previously.”
Ailsa endorsed Kate’s views of the value of supporting a young person gain work experience and said: “Being given the opportunity to become a mentor through Career Ready has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. Jennifer and I have established a great relationship and we have both learned a great deal from the four-week internship.
“Career Ready provides an opportunity for students to gain experience, knowledge and an insight into working relationships, which I would have enjoyed when I was a pupil. I am looking forward to supporting Jennifer with her journey through S6.”
The Association’s chief executive, George Tainsh, said: “As the internship was a fully paid role Kiera and Jennifer were regarded as ‘employees’ for the duration of their time with us and this meant being treated in exactly the same way as every other member of staff which included working Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, undergoing a full induction, which involved being made aware of the numerous health and safety and human resource policies and procedures required by employers and being subject to all other terms and conditions of employment.
“This is the Association’s first year in which the Association has participated in the programme and the feedback has been extremely positive for both the pupils and the staff mentors… albeit it involved quite a bit of work and planning from both sides for it to be a success.”