“Don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do a job based on your age, skin colour or gender until you’ve tried it for yourself.“
- Name: Steph
- Job title: Line certifying Engineer | Licensed Aircraft Engineer
- Organisation: Airbus
What activity did you participate in?
Most recently I took part in an Inspiring Aviation careers chat with Oaks Park High School in November. It was an aviation sector specific event with over 60 students from years 9. The session took place after school hours, with students dialling in from home. I was impressed by the number of students that logged on and asked questions!
My first involvement with the charity was through their Primary futures programme, where I spoke with years 6 students from Sandy Hill Academy. Both sessions were held virtually over platforms such as Zoom.
Why did you decide to take part in the activity?
I got involved with Inspiring the Future as I’m part of an organisation called Women Glide. One of my contacts within the organisation is an Aviation Ambassador for the Department for Transport and recommended getting involved with the charity’s Inspiring Aviation campaign. These kind of events and level of careers support didn’t exist when I was at school. When I was at school women were advised not to look at stereotypically male career paths such as Aviation and Engineering, so my ambition is to make sure young women can see someone they identify with in that line of work.
How did you get involved?
I signed up as a volunteer to the Inspiring Aviation campaign, and not long after, received an invitation in my inbox, via the Inspiring the Future portal. I accepted the invitation and was contacted by the event organiser. We exchanged a few emails back and forth where I found out more about the school, the event itself and what was expected from me. I received a calendar event for the session. I joined the other volunteers fifteen minutes ahead of the session starting (and before the students joined) for a welcome briefing.
I have received quite a few invites from schools, some of which are already organising events up until next summer, but I believe you can also use the platform to seek out your own opportunities as well.
How did you prepare?
Ahead of the session, I wrote myself some bullet points to guide what I was going to talk about, such as how long I’ve been doing my job, how I got into it and different pathways into the sector. Basically, lots of post-it–note scribbles. I also had a quick phone call with the organiser to run through what is was they wanted from me.
Take us through the day and activity:
Inspiring Aviation was run through GoToWebinar after school, so around 60 students dialled in from home. I spoke for around 10 minutes, followed by one other volunteer, and then a long Q&A with the students. We listened to the hilarious stories of the other volunteer (life-long career in the RAF).
For the primary future events – they did a warmup activity where the students were each asked to think of a job that began with the first letter of the name. This worked really well. We then had 5 minutes each to talk about our jobs, what we do and how we got there. We then took questions from the creative minds of year 6 students. The students shouted out their questions and their teacher relayed them more clearly to us. The teacher panned the camera around a couple of time to the students so we could see them all. They also waved to us at the beginning and the end of the session. The safeguarding was in place as the teacher supervised the students in the classroom.
What was the best part about the activity for you?
For both sessions, it was the content of the questions from the students, some of them caught me off guard. It was nice to see them so engaged that they could come up with such imaginative questions. With the younger students, they liked that I had grown up flying planes since I was 10.
What was the strangest/funniest/best question you were asked?
It was from the younger students. They asked what the best country was that I’d flown in. My answer was that I flew a glider in Florida, which meant I could see Disney World from the sky. The follow up question was did you see Mickey Mouse?
What is a key piece of advice you gave?
Don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do a job based on your age, skin colour or gender until you’ve tried it for yourself.
What impact do you think you’ve made on the lives of young people you spoke with?
I am hoping that more young women can relate themselves to a line of work now they’ve seen a woman doing a stereotypically male job. And helping people understand what aircraft engineers do – as it’s probably one of the more unknown jobs within the aviation industry.
If relevant, how was this activity different from other ITF activities you’ve supported?
The two events I took part in were very different from each other – one was sector specific – Aviation (my area) with secondary school students, whilst the other was a more generic careers event with a primary school.
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