Before joining Making The Leap (MTL), I graduated with a Master’s by Research Degree in Pancreatic Cancer at Kingston University in January 2020. I completed my research course back in November 2019 and this is when I started to actively seek jobs within the Health Care Field.  I applied for multiple NHS laboratory roles and within clinical trial organisations. I received rejection after rejection, that often stated that I had no experience within the NHS, or training in ‘good clinical practice’ to be able to work in clinical trials. Despite all this, I received two interviews in the week of my graduation in January 2020. One was from St Pancras Clinical Research, and another was a Medical Laboratory Assistant at Royal Marsden Hospital. Unfortunately, I did not get either of the positions because I lacked interview skills and I was competing with people who had far more experience than me.

I felt I was in a vicious loop as I wanted the job to get the experience, however, I also needed the experience that employers want to secure the job in the first place. This is the dilemma that many graduates face! I spoke to my Work Coach at the Job Centre about feeling stuck and increasingly discouraged. This was when my Work Coach introduced me to the three-week ACE Programme run by MTL, who offer support with job search, CV and cover letters, applications, and even interview skills. I was completely sold by it! I wanted to join ASAP to kickstart my career. Although it was a commitment (as it meant not applying for jobs for 3 weeks!) and a long commute for me to get there, it was well worth it. I was expecting a lecture type session where we are passively listening, but it was the opposite. Every day I was learning something new and pushing my boundaries.

MTL was a life-changing experience for me. I was pushed out of my comfort zone where I was able to speak in front of my cohort. I was doing countless presentations, especially, in front of experts. The sessions every day were eye-opening and pushed me to reach my potential as I grew in confidence and learnt about my capabilities and limits.  I learnt the importance of networking during one of our corporate visits, as they say, “it’s not what you know, but, it’s who you know.” Additionally, the concept of commercial awareness was a game-changer for me as it was something I did not consider before MTL.  It really helped with my interviews and made me stand out from the crowd. One thing the workshop instilled in me is self-awareness and personal branding – both, I know, I will carry with me throughout my life.

Some of my highlights of the ACE workshops were visiting corporate environments. This made me think about my career outside my field and how skills are transferable.  I really enjoyed all the group activities that we did at MTL. It taught me resilience, team building, problem-solving skills, and effective communication, all of which are crucial in a workplace environment.

Jamila with her cohort at a networking event with BNP Paribas.

I finished my ACE workshop in February 2020, feeling optimistic and equipped to search for jobs in the ‘big bad world’. One thing I love about MTL is that they support you with your applications and interview practice even after you graduate and become a Fellow. I had used the techniques I learnt from MTL with my job application which led to me securing an interview. Unfortunately, I was not selected because the competition was fierce. Then the pandemic started, and we were on lockdown at the end of March in the UK. I felt hopeless and lacked motivation to even apply. That was until I attended a few digital masterclasses such as Communications and Effective planning, Virtual Interviews, LinkedIn, Women in leadership etc. which were all run by MTL. These masterclasses were beneficial in helping me improve my LinkedIn Profile, and I began networking and continued applying for jobs. I am extremely grateful for Krupa, who helped me immensely and referred me to someone who was in a field I was aiming to be in, and made me think about my career path, especially where I want to be in 10 years (a hard question to answer but made me ponder).

As I mentioned earlier, networking and commercial awareness are the key factors in securing the job I got. I was, thankfully, offered a job at the Blizard Institute based in Queen Mary’s University as a Clinical Laboratory Technician in August 2020. This was through a good friend of mine who informed me about this job opportunity. I am incredibly grateful to be given this opportunity working in Clinical Trials. I could not believe I secured this job after months of struggling. This job gave me the experience and gateway to land another role within the NHS as an Associate Practitioner. This is a stepping-stone to kick start my career in the Health Sector – I have definitely made me ‘leap’ to my career.

As access to the job market gets harder, with current global events, many young people, like myself, are stuck in a tiresome cycle with no experience to kick start their careers.  Amazingly, MTL provides services to help tailor your CV, cover letter, help with interviews, and bring the best out of YOU and your personal brand. But most importantly, there is support available even after you complete the ACE Programme. MTL can also help with networking as they are affiliated with many companies. I highly recommend young people to join this programme and benefit from the MTL services as it did for me.

By Jamila.

Jamila and her Workshop cohort on graduation day.

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