Programme Manager, Helen Roy, met up with Charly Cassel in his lunch break to talk about his memories of being involved in Take a Chance. Now 22 years of age Charly has come full circle from being a student on the programme back in 2009 to more recently working in the Vodafone store in Newbury and volunteering to support a Take a Chance workshop as a ‘Business Host’.
Charly takes up his story here…
“I can remember being very nervous about participating in Skills Day at Newbury Racecourse, especially when I found out I was going to be split up from my school friends. However, the day turned out to be a great experience and working in a team with students from other schools opened my eyes to the fact that interschool rivalry didn’t mean that we couldn’t all get along together.
When I was selected for the Take a Chance Programme I was very happy that I would have some days out of school doing something different from the usual routine. I had no idea at the time that the skills I picked up would be so valuable in my future.
On my first visit the Vodafone HQ in Newbury made a big impression on me and I was totally struck with the sheer scale of the buildings and huge number of employees based at the site. Thankfully the ice-breakers in the mentoring sessions and workshops helped me to settle in and feel less anxious about the situation. It was great to be supported by Vodafone Buddies who were more laid-back than teachers and provided refreshingly different perspectives on life. I really appreciated being treated like an adult and with hindsight I realise that this had a positive impact on my behaviour and the way I responded to the whole experience.
An immediate benefit to me was that finding out my preferred learning style was ‘aural’ enabled me to use audio books for revision and helped me to learn more effectively. The realisation that I could use ways other than reading to learn really made a difference. I suppose this is why I now love working in an environment where talking things over with customers and listening to what they want suits me down to the ground. Looking back, I believe that being involved in Take a Chance increased my confidence, especially when working with new people, and made me believe in myself and achieve more.
Understanding how the programme had helped me encouraged me to give something back and volunteer as an interviewee so that students could practise their questioning and listening skills on me in a Take a Chance workshop. It was interesting to swap roles and experience it from a business volunteer’s point of view. It was strange to see the nervous faces of students and remember how I had felt exactly the same in their shoes. I was happy to share my story to help motivate and inspire the students to make the most of their opportunities in life. Hopefully these students will benefit from the Take a Chance Programme as much as I did!”
Top Left: Charly reunited in 2016 with his former School Buddy, Tim Evans. Top Centre: Lining up with other St Bartholomew’s School students and Tim Evans in 2009. Top Right: Solving a problem at Skills Day 2009 under the watchful eyes of Vodafone Team Leaders. Centre Left: Take a Chance students interviewing Charly in 2016. Centre Right: Charly with his Take a Chance workshop team in 2011. Bottom: St Bartholomew’s School students and their School Buddies in 2010.