Headstart is a programme that guarantees volunteers a job interview at major organisations throughout the UK.
Montell-Diego Higgins-Chen works as a barista at Starbucks in London. He wants to become a hardware design engineer and plans to go to university.
How did you find out about the Headstart programme?
I found out about the Headstart programme through National Citizen Service. They recommended it as you not only get the chance to volunteer but it also guarantees a job interview with a number of well recognised brands, like Starbucks. I thought I could learn a lot of skills and take away a lot more from it even if I wasn’t successful in the end with the interview.
What did you do as a volunteer?
I applied to work at a children’s play park that needed renovating, and as I wanted to work in construction I thought this would be a fun challenge. I got a call back and was told that I’d been successful, but was then told the role was a child worker which wasn’t what I expected. In the end though, I really enjoyed it.
I learned a lot of skills around time management, met some great people and was kept busy looking after 40 children a day.
What skills did you learn?
I found the programme really beneficial. It taught me that even if you don’t initially get what you want, don’t panic as you could discover something new.
It can be quite hard to carry yourself in a positive, professional manner through all the tasks of a working day – from meeting new faces and keeping confident to getting through your to-do list. Headstart has helped me to build confidence and prepare for university interviews, as it means I now have a lot more to talk about.
What was the job interview like?
I expected it to be more formal, but it was focused more on getting to know my personality and character traits versus qualifications and experience. This was refreshing compared to other interviews I’d previously had, as it allowed me to get across who I am as a person rather than being defined by something on paper.
Would you recommend volunteering?
I would say get stuck in and look for an area you have a genuine interest in. At the same time, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get accepted in your preferred area – you might find something you’d never have thought of but actually really enjoy.