At a recent training event for a schools placement programme at a university, it was reported many applicants weren't interested in teaching at all but just wanted 'some' work experience to put on their CV. Others were even more interested in getting this experience because the companies they were applying to had mentoring programmes for teenagers, and obviously if they could say they had done this themselves, surely they would fit right in!
If you think that sounds dull, why not show you're up for a challenge? Here we spoke to one student who is completing a placement at a pupil referral unit:
"A pupil referral unit is basically a place for children who don't fit into mainstream education. For most of the guys I work with this is because their behaviour has just got a bit out of control. I couldn't believe it in my first week when I saw that classes have a maximum of three students because you literally just cannot get them to do any work unless they have your undivided attention, (hence sometimes three is just still too many!).
The best bit of my placement so far is actually just talking to the kids, they're so funny and have such good ideas, they just swear a lot. I don't have to tell them off but sometimes I'm just like, 'can we not?!'
I like it when I make them realise they're not daft, they know their stuff and when they sit down and work it out they are really proud of themselves. For a lot of them they just don't get the attention they need at home or didn't at school, and some of them are having really difficult lives at such a young age, but you shouldn't be bothered about that, you're just there to help them learn, give them a chance, and help them understand they're really not bad kids!
Yeah sometimes they just wander off from lessons, or point blank refuse to do any work, but even if it takes you thirty minutes to get them to do something, that is a hell of a lot more than they would of done had they been left in mainstream schooling. It never gets as bad as say, Waterloo Road, but admittedly sometimes you can end up feeling intimidated but the staff are really great!
I think this experience will help me when I'm applying for jobs because I think it shows not only am I willing to give back to my local community, but that I can pitch information in different formats to gain different people's attention, I can cope with stressful situations and I had good enough time management skills to volunteer alongside my degree".
If you think volunteering could be beneficial to you, of course contact your careers service, but really don't underestimate the opportunities that are available via internet searches. You can usually spot the good ones from the bad ones.
*Reminder, when working with children you should have a Disclosure and Barring Services check, formally known as a CRB check. Don't pay for one upfront unless you have to, check with your university to see if there is any way they can help you get one.