For this post, I decided to enlist the help of a few associates from the Early Years Education pathway. I wanted to find out about their experiences on the programme, as well as ask what they have learnt during their time with Step Forward, and so I messaged the WhatsApp group…
Truth Number 1: It is not an easy gap year choice!
Step Forward can offer you so many great opportunities and help you start your career in the working world, however you will need to work – hard! If you are reading this now and on the search for an easy, relaxing “gap yah” then I suggest you head to Thailand or some other hot country…
The Early Years Education course is really interesting, and everything you learn will help you in your job. In my opinion, it’s also the most fun because it requires a lot of discussion (“talking”) which can really liven up a Tuesday morning! The qualification itself is coursework-based, however throughout the year you will also sit an ICT exam as well as a Food Hygiene and a First Aid course. Whilst this may seem a little daunting (or maybe a lot!), Step Forward will always be there to help and support you.
Truth Number 2: Make the most of your mentor!
When you get accepted into the programme, you will be divided into groups called STEP groups which are compiled of people from different pathways. The person in charge of your STEP group is your mentor; they will have regular one-to-one meetings with you as well as with your manager to review your progress.
When I asked my friends what the best part of Step Forward was, most of them said their mentors because “their help has been amazing”. As well as your tutors and associates, you can go to your mentor for help with any problem you have, be it personal, professional or about the course and they will help you no matter what. Having that source of support is incredible, and I probably won’t realise just how much I have relied on my mentor until after I leave the programme!
Truth Number 3: You will become so much more independent, without even realising!
There is nothing more satisfying than checking your bank balance at the end of that first month of work and seeing that £750 just sitting there – a reward for all your hard work. It’s a great moment that all too quickly fades as you spend it all on crazy online shopping sprees and (let’s face it) a little too much on food because, hey! You’re a working man/woman/other and you can afford to! I have been there a fair few times, but I am finally learning how to budget my money and make it last until the end of the month. Earning money (and learning how to spend it) is a crucial part of becoming independent, and can be a hard lesson to learn!
Aside from money, I have also become more independent in my everyday life without even realising it. I no longer ask to go to the toilet or wait for a bell to tell me that I can eat my lunch, because apparently people don’t do that in the “real world” … I’ve also become more confident in myself and my abilities because I have become used to interacting with others and meeting new people. Looking back, I can see that I have become so much more independent and I’m sure I’ll notice more changes by the time I reach the end of the programme!