I was brought up in North London and went to a relatively good state school. I had to work hard to motivate myself because I knew I could only help myself. I was always ambitious but didn’t know how to articulate it. With good GCSE grades and A-levels, I decided to study English at Queen Mary University because the modules suited my interests.

When I graduated, I found that my lack of work experience meant I was behind in the job market and my peers were favoured for jobs. The biggest barrier I faced was that I struggled to apply my theoretical knowledge to practical work skills like teamwork and time management.

I first heard about Making The Leap when, travelling home disappointed after not getting past the interview stage of a job application, I met someone who’d attended the Workshop and advised me to try it. He mentioned that Making The Leap had helped him secure a good job and improved his confidence. I was not getting any application replies so I took his advice and signed up with enthusiasm.

When I started the Workshop I was unsure how participating in a three-week workshop would actually help me. However, I soon came to learn that soft skills were as important as technical skills. I realised I had talents, such as presenting and marketing, which the activities helped me to improve. This fundamental change in mindset would not have been possible without the well-planned sessions that push you to get out of your comfort zone.

One of the key things they teach you at Making The Leap is that it’s all about taking that first step and trusting in the good that can come from it, as so many success stories start and end differently. The staff and volunteers help you to demystify the application process and give you tailored feedback which suits your career goals and circumstances.

I still remember when the Career Coach said: “you need to take the power back and tell yourself that the employer needs you and not the other way around”. This confidence boost triggered me to apply for jobs I didn’t think I’d get and speculatively ask my network about roles. I even became more forthcoming and articulate in how to sell my skills to prospective employers. At the end of the Workshop, I applied for and was offered a four-week Social Media Internship. This wouldn’t have happened without my improved self-confidence.

It was my first professional role so I was nervous when I started but settled in quickly. I learnt so much about Social Media but also how to manage expectations of myself and communicate effectively with colleagues. It was a very practical and uniquely challenging experience that I am proud of.

One of the key lessons I took from the whole experience is that we can be an obstacle to our own success. A rejection from our dream employer can trigger a lot of negative self-talk. Truly believing that you are an asset is hard but essential.

Making The Leap are the most unique organisation I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. The experience they provided was what I needed to bridge the gap between education and work. They have empowered me to understand the job market and believe I can be successful. I am now working as a Partnerships Coordinator for Comic Relief.

I’m so glad I worked with them and can’t recommend it enough.

By Umra, aged 23

Umra with her Workshop cohort on the way to a corporate visit

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