Here we meet Billie, who took part in the GROW programme at the OU in Wales.
GROW – Graduate Opportunities Work Experience – offers support to OU in Wales graduates who have graduated since 2019 and are unemployed or underemployed. GROW helps graduates prepare for their next steps, manage any individual challenges they face and explore their ambitions. The programme also arranges paid work experience placements.
'I completed a BA Hons Humanities (Specialising in English Literature and Creative Writing) and a MA in Creative Writing which I graduated from in my own bedroom in October 2021,’ says Billie. ‘The Open University in Wales has been a supportive and conducive atmosphere to enhance my ability to write in a more creative and stylised way’. ‘Covid took away the confidence I had in my own work and impulses that I felt were my lifeline. They required creativity to flourish and in being able to openly move around to find the opportunities I craved. I did feel as if I was held back by my own lack of experience and was stuck in a toxic cycle of being refused due to mitigating circumstances or due to location’.
Billie’s remote placement was with Parthian Books as an editorial assistant. She talked to authors about their work, created blog posts, worked on SEO. She also developed skills in journalism, social media management and event planning.
Billie was referred to GROW through the OU in Wales’ GO Wales programme. It was through her involvement in GO Wales that she found out that she was dyspraxic. Although she found this out later on in life, it has helped her access more support
‘Through both programmes, I have found being able to ask questions and jump in headfirst to such opportunities works best to get the best experience of the placements you are offered,’ continues Billie. ‘To begin with, I believe I was incredibly shy, unsure of what unique features I had to offer employers and would falter in an interview believing that I would fail before I had even spoken. Through GROW and GO Wales, I have been able to flourish in my abilities and to work on my development needs’.
The placement has allowed Billie to improve skills and her CV, as well as give an insight into what employers are looking for. She is now applying for jobs and has several interviews lined up. She is also thinking about publishing her own books, taking on freelance work and studying to become a teacher. On top of all this, she’s also planning on learning to drive.
‘I was offered more support from GROW than I felt I deserved but it has been well met. The most helpful part has been the extra help of job suggestions and talking to the employer on my behalf which made me feel safe and comforted in the knowledge that they had my best interests at heart’.Billie Ingram Sofokleous
‘I think the best piece of advice I could offer to other graduates looking for work is to jump in headfirst,’ says Billie. ‘If you have an idea for what area of work you would like to do and maybe create a list of requirements, think about the location and the ability to adapt to remote working and if this line of work is something that is a trainable skill, that may require a qualification. Go for it!’
If you’d like to find out more about the support on offer from GROW and the work experience placements available, e-mail email@example.com
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