09 July 2019

A Wellcome Partnership with Future First

Helena and Daisy, Graduate Trainees at the Wellcome Trust, talk to us about the benefits of our Employer Partnership with them.

Wellcome has worked with Future First for a long time, inviting students and schools to career insight days here at our offices. As an organisation we’re very much focussed on health and science and a big part of that is trying to engage diverse groups of young people and give them an understanding of the many career paths that studying science can offer. Our Education and Learning team in particular has aims to improve science education, both formal and informal, in the UK and we’re very much engaged in the community in which we work whether in Camden or across London. We have lots of different initiatives associated with social mobility because we know that not everybody has equal access to studying or engaging with science. We partnered with Future First to help support their important work in tackling the issue of social mobility hands on.

We’ve been working very closely with Alex from Future First on delivering and designing the career insight days; making sure they’re relevant to students and as engaging and impactful as possible. We have one or two per year with Future First and it’s been really exciting for us taking over the role within Wellcome from previous graduates. Our partnership with Future First is a collaboration in every sense of the word; we collaborate on how the days are designed and delivered and we’re always looking at ways to improve them, which we’re able to do using the valuable feedback we get from Future First.

The Insight Day last year brought biology and chemistry students to Wellcome with the aim of encouraging and inspiring them to want to study science, and help them to better understand the diverse careers science can lead to. Having the insight days here allows staff throughout the building to volunteer and share their experiences with the students; sharing how their education has helped them in their careers and what their working day looks like. We also invited a scientist to share their career journey in academic research which was a fantastic interactive session. In the afternoon we had an interactive ‘workplace scenario’ activity in which students were tasked with designing a new technology to support people’s mental wellbeing. The students designed their technologies in groups following a presentation from our mental health priority area team, who supported the students during the activity.

Throughout our partnership with Future First, Alex has always made our roles really clear which makes the organising and the actual delivery of the days run smoothly. During our last insight day we acted as ‘hosts’, having organised the room bookings, catering and other logistical details, and Alex did an amazing job facilitating the sessions; he got the students really energised and engaged right from the start.

Hosting the insight days really aligns with our values as an organisation around recognising the importance of all young people having the opportunity to engage with science no matter their background. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to work across different teams at Wellcome and have the chance to develop the skills needed to maintained the partnership with Future First; designing the insight days is incredibly valuable to us at this stage in our careers.

On a personal level it’s rewarding to see students grow in confidence throughout the day. It can be intimidating coming into a corporate workplace and it’s nice to let them own the space for the day. Being with the students allows us to engage directly with our missions and aims in a much more tangible way because we’re actually on the ground with the students, watching them develop new skills; it’s a great atmosphere on the day and the students all really supportive of each other, cheering each other on and allowing space to generate and discover new ideas and thoughts. You often hear about the pressures that young people in schools are under today, and bringing them to an insight day takes them out of their routine and you can see that it’s really enriching for them.

I’d say that being involved in the insight days has improved our overall happiness and satisfaction at work. It’s great to see all the hard work come to fruition when we welcome Future First and the students to Wellcome for the day. In terms of preparation we have 2-3 calls with Alex to come up with a good agenda, and the rest of it is logistical such as organising volunteers, sending briefing emails, organising the room and catering but in total I wouldn’t say it takes up more than a working day. In terms of commitment and time it may be helpful for other organisations to know that it’s not as much as you’d think and that’s due to Alex and Future First who have been really great to work with; with organisation as a key priority.

Partnering with Future First has been an extremely positive experience and we would recommend partnering with them to other organisations. Future First are so passionate about the work that they do and they come with lots of enthusiasm and energy. They’re really well organised and great at communicating with us; Alex is always in touch with us sending reports, ebulletins and annual reviews to make sure that we feel part of the bigger picture in the helping improve and enrich the lives and young people.

If your organisation would be interested to learn more about partnering with Future First, please speak to our Head of Partnerships & Development, Alex Fleming: alex.fleming@futurefirst.org.uk