The Drive Forward Foundation supports young care leavers to take charge of their futures and achieve their career goals. We spoke to Rob, who joined their employability course Professional Pathways in 2016, about his experiences with the charity.
How did you hear about Drive Forward and why did you decide to get involved with them?
I first heard of Drive Forward through the Reach Foundation. My family and housing situations were causing me a lot of stress, so I contacted Drive Forward in order for them to give me help and advice. I also joined Drive Forward because they let you know about job opportunities even if you don’t have a degree.
Are there any obstacles that you feel you faced before starting work?
Yes, I had many issues with my confidence after years of family difficulties. I was really confident, but it had been bashed out of me. I needed someone to give me assurance and my confidence back. I feel Drive Forward has helped me do this.
How have you found the employability course Professional Pathways?
I found it really good, especially their Aim Higher course. I got to spend time at Burberry and J. Walter Thompson. It motivates you and makes you want to achieve.
What skills do you think you have been able to develop since joining Drive Forward and beginning the course?
My interpersonal skills have really improved, as well as my confidence. They have also helped me with writing my CV and have made me feel more confident about getting a job. I’m working part time at the moment which is also really improving my employability skills.
How was your placement with the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson?
I really enjoyed the experience. After one week of working with them they invited me back for a second week. It was really fun to meet and work with different people in a professional and corporate environment.
Where do you see your career heading in the future?
In the future I would really like to work in a creative environment to really use my skills and strengths, as I feel I am a very creative person.
What do you feel has changed the most about you since joining Drive Forward?
I have become more motivated and inspired to aim high, but at the same time I have to remember I am more limited because I don’t have a degree. It’s a mixed feeling because although I am motivated it’s difficult to proceed with what I want to do. But I do feel that the things I have learnt through working with Drive Forward are helping me to overcome the challenges I am facing, as I now have so much experience and knowledge, which has allowed me to do some really good work on my placements.
Is going to university and getting a degree something you would ever consider?
I might consider it. I was at university, but suffered from serious mental health problems and became homeless because of that, so I took some time out at the end of my second year.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting involved with Drive Forward?
I would say definitely try and do it when you’re 17, 18, 19 and living at home in order to make the most of the support you can get. I was forced to go to university at 17 and finished my A levels early. I was ready on paper, but I wasn’t ready or mature enough. Although I was intelligent, I wasn’t ready. Working with Drive Forward and doing such interesting work placements has really helped me to mature, feel more confident, and to aim high and pursue the career I want.
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the care leaver.