My daughter recently came to Ovation for 3 days work experience. She was supposed to go to a local law firm but they let her down.
We gave her lots to do and learn. She sat in with a client planning meeting, had talks on investment management and how we use coaching skills. She joined us in a networking meeting. I was only in the office for the last day.
After the first day, she came home exhausted. Moreover, she was rather anxious, and was heading up to her room to revise. I called her back down for a quick debrief.
Although she had really enjoyed the day and what she had learned, she felt stressed because she was struggling to remember everything. She wanted to go and look through her notes to try and make sure that she could retain every scrap of information she had been given, like she has been trained to do at school.
I explained to her that this was work ‘experience’. She wouldn’t be tested. There was no exam at the end. Even if she worked for us she wouldn’t need to remember every bit of the technical stuff, rather to have an understanding of the principles. I suggested that she should ask the following question of everything she is told: ‘How would this help the client?”
I explained that we can look stuff up, we don’t have to remember everything to repeat in an exam.
This seems especially prescient on the day that I am writing this, as I have a son off school. The teachers are on strike and I believe one of their issues is the increasing emphasis on testing. Ironically, the teachers are making sure there are enough staff to cover my daughter’s year who have their mock GCSEs exams. She’s dead impressed that little bro has a day off while she has to do exams!
I understand why exams are important – to track the child’s progress – although one can be a little cynical whether this is for the good of the child or for the Government. My daughter’s work experience, however, did highlight the ever widening gap of how the Government think kids should be taught and the requirements of the workplace.
I’ve written before about how I look at the personal section of a CV first. It seems to me the disconnect between what employers want (attitude first and foremost) and what Govt think we want (exams passes, either at school or through bodies such as the FCA and CII) is getting wider.
After our chat, my daughter relaxed and enjoyed the following two days so much more. Once she realised the objective was to understand how we help people and not to remember stuff, she took on so much more knowledge. She gets what we do, and is now interested in a career in financial planning.
One of the lads I coach at cricket did go to a local law firm. I asked him how he got on. He said it was boring. He spent most of his time reading stuff he’d been given. He’s decided he doesn’t want to work in a law firm.