The Isle of Wight – an island only two miles across the Solent, but worlds away in terms of career development opportunities for young people. For students from the Isle of Wight, the divides are not just socioeconomic. I’ve lived in deprived areas of the island my entire life but the more significant barrier to career opportunities has been a physical one. The Solent.
The Isle of Wight has significantly fewer people employed in professional and managerial roles than the rest of Great Britain, with the average number of people employed in professional occupations being 8.1% lower than national average. These disparities are even more vast when compared to the rest of the South East of England. Within this context, it is particularly challenging to seek professional work experience, internships or make connections whilst residing on the Isle of Wight. For those facing socioeconomic barriers, this challenge is tenfold, with high ferry prices and accommodation costs deterring students from seeking work experience opportunities on the mainland.
Despite being a motivated and proactive student, I faced significant problems when trying to develop professionally and expand my skill set before I found the Talent Tap. The opportunity I saw available to me was volunteering for charities who support causes I was passionate about. This drive led me to reach out to a number of local charities supporting the LGBTQ+ community. However, upon getting in contact, I found many of these charities were based in Southampton or Portsmouth.
Thankfully, when the Talent Tap came to my sixth form offering work experience opportunities I decided to sign up and have an interview. And I’m so glad I did, because I have gained so much more than just work experience. I’ve gained confidence in the professional workplace, the opportunity to build a network as well as employability skills such as advice on interview technique, CV’s and my LinkedIn profile. Of course, alongside some amazing work experience opportunities in the notoriously inaccessible field I aspire to go into. Politics!
My first placement with the Talent Tap was with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. This was a remote placement due to the pandemic, but remained invaluable to my professional development and growth of my network. I knew people who worked in politics, in London! I was able to discuss current events with my new colleagues, research and present policy proposals. This has paved the way for my future career, as following this experience I used my connections to intern with the Institute two more times and attend the Future of Britain: Next Generation Conference in 2022. This experience enabled me to fine tune my career aspirations, political research and public policy is definitely the route I plan to take when I graduate!
My next Talent Tap placement was with Culture Shift in Manchester. I was excited (and slightly terrified to be that far away from everyone I knew!) But very soon, the other Talent Tap students I met on this residential would become some of my best friends. It was refreshing to meet such a diverse range of motivated students, all coming from such different backgrounds and career areas, but here for the same thing. To support each other and learn professional skills. It was wonderful to explore the local culture (the Emmeline Pankhurst Center being a highlight for me!) and meet so many new people. The experience gave me so much confidence for my graduate career, as I know I can be thrown into a new city, a new job and a new set of people and thrive.
My Talent Tap experience has been invaluable, more so than I could’ve imagined. The physical barriers I experienced living on the Isle of Wight have been broken down, and I am excited to start the next step in my career knowing that I have professional experience to set me apart from other graduates.