"LifeSkills gave me the confidence I needed"
A year ago, the award-winning rapper Tinie Tempah teamed up with LifeSkills created with Barclays to launch the ‘work experience of a lifetime’ competition, giving ambitious young people a step onto the career ladder. We talk to one of the winners, Liam Rabone, about how the competition gave him direction and confidence – and helped him find full-time work.
At the start of this year Liam Rabone found himself in a similar position to many young people in the UK. He had graduated from university, studying events management at Leeds Metropolitan, and was struggling to find full-time employment.
“I was in a difficult place,” said Liam. “I had all these different jobs on my CV but couldn’t find full-time work. I lacked direction and needed confidence – and that’s exactly what the LifeSkills work experience gave me.”
Liam discovered the ‘work experience of a lifetime’ campaign when searching online for job opportunities. The campaign is dedicated to equipping 18 to 24-year-olds with some of the vital experience they need to secure work.
Gaining his placement came as a surprise: “To be honest I’d totally forgotten that I had applied – it’s not the sort of thing you expect to win. After initially making the shortlist, I was offered a role at the O2 arena in London with AIG Events – one of the largest event companies in the world. I was so proud, it felt like an incredible achievement.”
Although offering a fantastic working opportunity, for Liam the initiative wasn’t solely about gaining vital experience: “The placement gave me a much needed boost at an important time. I’d been looking for work extensively for six months and had started to become disillusioned with the process.
“It’s stressful looking for a job and it had started to get me down, doubts had begun to creep in. That’s why the scheme was so significant for me, it gave me the confidence and direction that I needed. I travelled down to London and thought: ‘Wow, this really means something.’”
The placement gave me a much needed boost – I’d been looking for work for six months and had started to become disillusioned.
Once his placement started, Liam set about gaining invaluable new skills and experiences that would progress his career: experiences that he would have struggled to gain without the placement’s help: “To be honest, as a 23-year-old graduate, it would be very difficult to work with the incredible brands that the work experience of a lifetime campaign was offering. Companies like the Premier League, Manchester City FC and, of course, AIG Events, where I completed my placement.”
In his week long placement, Liam took on a variety of responsibilities including working with the sponsorship team, creating gift packages for VIP clients and overseeing the food service.
One of the most valuable lessons, however, came on a visit with AIG to Barclays, where he sat in on a meeting between the partnership teams: “That was an amazing experience, witnessing first-hand how such a fast paced, high-end corporate environment works,” he says. “It was like watching a game of tennis, seeing the negotiations go back and forth. I found it fascinating how both teams managed to come away with exactly what they wanted. There was so much I could take away from that morning, both for my career and generally in life.”
After finishing his placement it didn’t take long for Liam to reap the benefits of his newly improved CV. Just a few weeks later he found himself at a job interview for a sales position at global restaurant company D&D, which runs high end venues including Skylon in London, Angelica in Leeds, Alcazar in Paris and Guastavino’s in New York.
If companies like Barclays invest in young people, it can make such a difference to people’s lives.
Liam was offered the position the next day, and firmly believes that his work placement played an important part in securing his new role: “Having the name ‘AIG Events’ on my CV definitely made a difference. I came out of that interview knowing that I’d done really well.”
Since starting his new role Liam has already been promoted, and is responsible for the event management and corporate sales of four of the group’s restaurants in Leeds.
Having benefited so much from the experience, Liam is keen for other young people to benefit from such opportunities: “These schemes are important to many people – I know I am not the only person who has struggled in the past to get work. If companies like Barclays invest in young people, it can make such a difference to people’s lives.”