Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new series called ‘How GTB Helped Me’. Forgive us for tooting our own horn, but as we spend so much time and effort trying to help you, it’s nice to hear that some of that effort has paid off and resulted in one less young person struggling with their career.

Our first interviewee is Shabir Clarke (18), a business student who knew that if he wanted to land his dream job in a large corporate company after university, he’d need to get some work experience under his belt ASAP. So that’s what he did. With his business course finishing next month, he found some opportunities that would show him the practical side of everything he was learning.

“I only found out about GoThinkBig two months ago in an email I got back from Sky,” Shabir told us. “I applied for their work experience week and was unsuccessful. In the rejection email they referred me to GoThinkBig for other opportunities.”

“I applied for their work experience week and was unsuccessful. In the rejection email they referred me to GoThinkBig for other opportunities.”

“Since then, I’ve applied for ten opportunities and I’ve been successful on four of them!”

Shabir, like a lot of young people, faced the challenge of having a lack of work experience: “It’s a catch 22 situation – you can’t get a job without work experience, but you can’t get work experience without a job. It makes it really hard to get on to the job ladder.”

An insight into his opportunities

So what exactly did Shabir do to gain that much-needed experience? A lot! “The first experience I did was an insight day at IBM. It was really interesting because I got to actually meet graduates and apprentices instead of just hearing from the company. We heard how they got their jobs, and we had a little tester of an assessment centre.”

Now assessment centres aren’t anyone’s cup of tea, but now Shabir knows exactly what to expect. “I’ve only heard about assessment days but I had no idea how hard they were! We had a maths task and luckily I passed, but you only need 50%. I think that shows how hard it is.”

“What they taught us was that it’s not about getting it right, it’s about working together to solve problems. Before that, my understanding was that you had to pass with 100%, but now I realise it’s not about that, it’s about showing you can work as a team and use collaborative working skills. I got to see real figures and how real business is done.”

The opportunity Shabir cites as his ‘favourite’ was an O2 shadowing opportunity, with the Head of Stores, James Knight.

“It was really intense but incredibly interesting,” Shabir said when describing the opportunity. “I got to sit in all the meetings – obviously I didn’t understand it all but it was really good to see what an actual job role in that field is really like. I think it was the most insightful for me. It’s such a huge company and it was great because I want to do something similar in operations and trading. I actually got to see real figures and how real business is done, including how they organise themselves and their team. It was great to shadow someone so senior, too! I think with tech companies like O2, you just imagine it’s a bunch of people coding, but I’ve seen there’s so much more that goes into it! I really like the company and the culture.”

And he impressed enough to be invited back! “James (who I shadowed at O2) offered me work experience in the summer as well. I’m going to speak to him soon about that so I can get the experience before I start university.”

“James (who I shadowed at O2) offered me work experience in the summer as well. I’m going to speak to him soon about that so I can get the experience before I start university.”

Two more opportunities found Shabir attending the interactive Sky Careers Lab for an insight into business, as well as spending two weeks with the team right here at GoThinkBig, where he worked with the whole team.

“I completed tasks that I’d never done before, especially on the editorial side. I’d never thought about what it takes to use journalistic skills, but it did make me think a lot. I read the papers every day, but never thought what goes into it. I didn’t expect to get to work with all parts of the team, and I think it’s really good to work with the different teams involved,” he told us.

What has it taught him?

“It’s been great training for the future. The three main skills I would say I picked up would be research skills, which I’ve learned are very important, team work, how to come across and how businesses are conducted on a daily basis.”

Shabir said these experiences have had a huge impact on his work, “Now I know what to expect when searching for jobs, which is great. It’s also given me experience I can talk about! That’s the real benefit. Everyone goes into education, but it’s these experiences that will set me apart.”

“It’s also given me experience I can talk about! That’s the real benefit. Everyone goes into education, but it’s these experiences that will set me apart.”

With a few more experiences he has his eye on (with both O2 and Reed Smith), Shabir is keen to get as much experience as possible before he goes to university.  And would he recommend us? “I tell other people to definitely log in and apply for things on GoThinkBig because you never know! I’ve had four opportunities already and want to do even more during university. It’s experience that you would never get anywhere else. What GoThinkBig does is so good.”

Click here to view all of our current career opportunities…

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