How the Training Programme helped me find direction
Taking part in the Training Programme allowed Grace to completely re-evaluate her life. Now she's leading the thriving Ambassadors in Business Network.
I graduated from the University of Manchester with a Drama and English Literature degree, and no clue where I wanted that to take me. I quickly realised working in a pub wasn’t the greatest use of my skills, and also knew that I wanted to do something that gave back to the community.
I got a tutoring job in Manchester that sent you to disadvantaged schools, where I mainly taught English and maths to year 6 primary school pupils. This opened my eyes to how far behind the curriculum some of the students were and how many obstacles they faced in achieving academic success.
I heard about the Teach First Training Programme and didn’t hesitate to apply. Having mainly tutored maths to 11-year olds at the time, I felt most confident doing a maths lesson for my interview - lo and behold, got offered maths for secondary school! It’s strange sometimes where a drama degree takes you.
As can be expected, my Teach First experience was tough, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It made me completely re-evaluate who I am as a person - it may sound dramatic, but it really did change me. For example, throughout my life, I’ve never considered myself a “maths” person, despite always getting good grades in the subject. I fell into the age-old trap of thinking that some people just “get” it and don’t have to work hard at it, and I was not one of those people. I learned the way that this is absolutely not true.
I also didn’t ever think I was much of a leader. Teaching three or four classes a day, you quickly learn how to flex your leadership muscles! I grew in confidence and competence so much in those two years. The knowledge that I coped with a situation that I found so difficult is a powerful thing to take into new situations now.
During the programme, I did a Summer Project that Teach First offer and worked as a technology consultant at Accenture for three weeks (between my first and second year). I loved this internship, as I found myself in an exciting environment with lots of interesting, curious and driven people around me. I knew this was an environment I wanted to explore further, so when I was offered a graduate scheme after completing my second year of Teach First, I didn’t hesitate to accept. This doesn’t mean I’ve said goodbye to teaching forever, but I feel I want to explore what other options are out there.
The thing that made the transition easier for me is that Accenture has a thriving Teach First community, so you can still get involved with education initiatives. Since starting at Accenture, I’ve already run a Teach First workshop for Year 8 students and have organised a virtual panel event to discuss education through COVID-19.
I’ve also stepped up to lead the Ambassador in Business Network. It’s a national network open to any ambassador who now works in a business context. I think collaboration across business can lead to the sharing of a broader range of expertise and insight, with the potential to lead to some fantastic initiatives and innovations.
The Ambassadors in Business Networks has a growing LinkedIn Group which I encourage you to join and make the most of. As network lead, I want to expand connections with other ambassadors in business, particularly those outside of London.
If you are reading this and have ideas you wish to share or are interested in playing a bigger role in growing the scale and focus of the network, drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!