Work experience, which is a mandatory part of our grade 10 curriculum, demands many of the values at the heart of the LIS vision, in particular courage. As an adult, it’s easy to forget firstly just how little our students know about the world of work, and secondly how terrifying it can be to step into that world for the first time. It takes courage to send off an email to an unknown person in a company you know little about; it takes even more courage to walk through the door for the first time. And yet last year’s grade 10s not only took this entirely within their stride but did so to high praise from their ‘employers’. For me, it was an absolute highlight of the academic year 21/22 to get feedback from a wide range of employers across Germany describing our students as friendly, engaged, quick to take initiative, as assets to the company and a joy to host.
But their positive impact didn’t end on leaving their host company’s building at the end of the two week work experience placement. As part of the debrief process, the grade 10s represented their company at a jobs fair held for the rest of the school, with a particular focus on sharing their experiences with the grade 9s. The impact of this event is being felt now: the current grade 10s are now busy sending off their letters of application to local companies, some of whom have offered to take our students again on the basis of last year’s positive experience. So, thank you, Class of 2022 Grade 10s – I’m extremely grateful to you and immensely proud of the work you have done in paving the way for successful work experience for your successors.
That success was, however, the culmination of a long period of preparation. The work experience cycle starts a year before the actual two week placement, when students are at the end of grade 9. Through a combination of support in German and Pastoral lessons as well as workshops, the students learn how to put together a job application in both English and German. This year, we’ve been particularly privileged to have guest speakers from the Parent Association’s LIS Connect group who have spoken to students about their career paths and even cast an eye over their cover letters. A huge thank you to Charlotte Kulow (and her medical student), Franziska Schenk, Hilary Borini, Bugra Sirin, Nicola Seaton-Clark and Romy Heilmann for sharing their career stories with grade 9 and 10: the common message across everyone’s story was that behind a multitude of different successes is a positive mindset, initiative-taking and a lot of hard work.
Pursuit of a fulfilling career is probably the way most of us seek to make meaningful impacts in the world. As we all know, finding a career that allows us to do that can be a challenge. I’m very grateful for all the support that is given by the wider community – parents, local businesses and colleagues – to start the students off on this journey. If you’d be happy to start (or continue) supporting us, please fill in our ‘Beyond LIS – can you help?’ survey.