Young person taking part in an employability workshop

National Careers Week  is 4 to 9 March 2024, and the theme for this year is ‘Your Future’ – a celebration of careers guidance and free resources in education across the UK.

NatWest Group are one of the headline sponsors of National Careers Week and run the NatWest CareerSense Find Your Path Programme in locations around the UK. In Bristol, the programme is delivered by Ablaze and we look at how the programme helped Sanjida gain confidence and find her voice.

 

Sanjida, 25, born and raised in Bangladesh, moved with her family to Bristol in 2019, seeking a safer, more independent life as a woman. She came to us in Autumn 2023 as a recruit on the NatWest Find Your Path
programme.

Sanjida had previously completed an ESOL and introductory accountancy course at City of Bristol college. She then did un-paid work for an accountancy firm to gain some experience. Sanjida was clear she was looking for paid work in a positive environment where she felt supported to develop. Her lack of a network and confidence in her spoken English meant she was facing barriers to securing work.

At the start of the workshops, we could see Sanjida’s commitment to the course, but she was shy to contribute to discussion or ask questions in fear of saying the wrong thing.

“I always thought that I couldn’t understand what people were saying. I didn’t think I could say anything valuable”.

But as the course progressed, we witnessed a change. Showing up each time and surrounding herself in English speaking environments, Sanjida found her voice. By the fourth week with us, she completed a great mock interview and was looking forward to the work experience at the bank.

During the work placement, Sanjida attended many meetings, learnt to take notes, responded to internal emails and compiled reports. She developed her admin skills and learnt to use Microsoft outlook. She was also given the time to interview many employees across departments about their roles. She relished this opportunity to meet new people and found herself feeling more confident and supported that ever before.

‘I never felt discriminated against at NatWest. I felt like everyone saw me as equal. I liked how everyone’s roles were well defined and they were happy to help me’.

By the time the placement finished, Sanjida’s transformation was clear to see. Volunteering to speak in front of room of 40 people, she articulated her experience and the how much she had gained from her time in the NatWest office.

‘I’ve discovered that I could find a job in an office environment in England that I really enjoy and feel supported within. I feel motivated rather than demotivated. I know that a positive working environment
is very important to me now and that I want to work in a team’

Having honed her CV and with the help of her mentor, Sanjida is now ready and waiting to apply for a NatWest apprenticeship in Spring 2024.

Matt Hatcher, one of the NatWest volunteers, talks more about his experience of the programme here.