James Rafter, Operations Manager at Blackfield Associates, visited his old school last week to give a little back to the place where he spent most of his formative years! St Edmund’s Catholic school in Portsmouth held a Mock Interview Day for its Year 11 pupils to help prepare them for the world of work and life outside of a secondary setting. As an alumni of the school and with his knowledge of, and skills in, recruitment, the Careers team reached out to James, inviting him to take part. Here he describes the day and his feelings on being sent back to school.
The morning was divided up into 20-minute slots with pre-selected interviewees from the school’s 15 and 16-year-old student body. We were given their application forms and prepared questions. There were 25 other interviewers there, comprising ex-students and other representatives from the local community.
My role was to act as an interviewer to the students. We were supplied with questions, but given my recruitment background, I built in some real-world questioning. We provided feedback to the candidate, verbally and via a form at the end of the session. Ultimately, we gave them a few tips and tricks to take away with them as preparation for the world outside of school.
The overall attitude, respect and behaviour from the students was first class. They came open-minded, albeit a little nervous! They took the feedback really well, were asking some thought provoking questions and were keen to listen. Definitely some great characters there in the mix!
I think the stand-out moment for me was how many of the students were interested in STEM areas. This was an area that never interested us or was pushed as a career focus when I was younger. Aware as I am of the shortage in the industry, it was really positive to see how many want to go down this route.
I would say it was a bit nostalgic, however, where I left 13 years ago now, my memories are a little hazy! In all honesty, it was great to be back and to see the improvement to the school’s infrastructure was brilliant. Seeing some of my old teachers and speaking to them as an adult was fantastic too, a real full-circle moment! I think when you’re younger you’re naïve as to how big an impact they can have. It certainly brought back some good memories and it was great to have the opportunity to give back.
Joe Were, Senior Leader at St. Edmund’s Catholic School, had this to say:
“As part of St. Edmund’s Catholic School’s careers programme, Year 11 pupils had the opportunity to talk to people from different spheres of employment about what it is like to work in their particular sector. As a school, we are fortunate to have strong bonds with our local community and in particular our former alumni, and were lucky enough to host James Rafter from Blackfield Associates. James, who left St. Edmund’s in 2011, was one of several former pupils who came back to put the current crop through their paces and ask them about their future goals and aspirations. We would like to thank James and his colleagues at Blackfield Associates for giving our pupils the opportunity to utilise their expertise on a rewarding and enriching day.”