This week we had the pleasure of welcoming Ellen Kemmett to Firestarter. Ellen joins us on work experience from Chosen Hill School & Sixth Form in Gloucestershire. We had a discussion with Ellen to see what she thought of her time here and how this opportunity came to fruition for her.

Firestarter: So Ellen, can you tell me about your decision-making process in choosing Firestarter for your work experience?

Ellen: When I was told I needed to find work experience, I decided that I wanted real-world experience, in a working business, with stimulating projects that would help enhance my understanding of what the working word is like and give me an idea of how my future is going to look. I came across Firestarter through Alan Tattersall, a friend of my parents, who put me in touch with Chris O’Riordan and eventually led to me spending a week at Firestarter, exploring the business world and the ways in which I can apply my interests in creative writing to this new environment.

Firestarter: How would you describe your initial experience at Firestarter during your work experience?

Ellen: When I arrived on Monday, I was greeted with enthusiasm and a number of projects specially tailored to my interests. After an hour of introductions to the team members and the business itself, I was shown to my desk, given a computer and a login, and told to get stuck in. I expected to feel anxiety or fear, but I did not feel out of my depth regardless of this strange and new environment I was in. There were people around me all the time, ready to help me in any way I needed, whether that be explaining terminology or showing me how to join a Teams meeting.

Immediately, I was introduced to the freedom and flexibility Firestarter offered. I was also given a structured day-plan with interesting projects – but I was told straight away, that I could choose how I spent my days.

Firestarter: Did the selection of projects align with your interests? If so, did you feel they were relevant to you and that you were able to learn something new?

Ellen: Yes, I was not just given any random list of projects that had been waiting on the back-burner to get done – it was clear that these projects had been specifically chosen to appeal to my interests. For me, that is creative writing, so I was given the opportunity to write an article based on Firestarter’s latest Roundtable Meeting.

In learning new skills, being introduced to the world of salespeople and facing the challenge of writing a business article, I was also offered something familiar and something I knew I would be able to do. And when I finished that, I was given another familiar and specifically chosen – yet still stimulating and challenging – project to work on: designing the basic questions and answers of an AI chat-bot that could be included on the Firestarter website.

This week, I have not felt as though I was merely given tasks to make me feel useful; these projects have made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile. The team’s interest in how I was getting on and their questioning if I needed any help had only confirmed my feelings.

Firestarter: Did you face any challenges or obstacles during your work experience? If so, how did you handle them, and what did you learn from those experiences?

Ellen: With part of my work experience being to attend a Business Networking Event with Daniella, I was put out of my comfort zone in that I was talking to people I had never met, who were all older than me, and most of whom already knew each other or had had experience in such events before.

My initial feelings were of anxiety over what I would do whilst there, but once inside, I decided I would step out of my comfort zone and try to immerse myself in this event, despite my fear. This decision was also aided by watching Daniella, who had offered to take me to this event, talk to people and make conversation with people she had never met either. From her, and this experience, I learnt that I can step outside of my comfort zone, and that when I do, I feel more and more confident each time.

Firestarter: How did the team support your learning and growth during your time at Firestarter?

Ellen: The team immediately made me feel welcomed and comfortable at the office. The idea of an uptight and strict office had been playing on my mind, but the relaxed nature of the Firestarter office placated my worry. In the room I was sharing with Daniella and Jordan, we shared many laughs and jokes – but this was not confined to just that room. Among the offices, I was shown the easy-going, yet still professional, attitude which made me feel more at ease within the office, and then, more welcomed to share my work, ask questions and discuss ideas with other members of the team.

Firestarter: How do you plan to leverage the knowledge and skills you’ve learnt this week in your future endeavours?

Ellen: I did not previously know much about the inner workings of a business or company such as Firestarter – I did not know about all the different aspects of running the business, nor all the different types of roles each person had. But Firestarter has given me knowledge of the mechanisms that drive a business, as well as shown me that, regardless of the type of interest someone has, they can find a place at many companies and businesses.

I have also learnt new ways to apply my interests in creative writing, as well as learned new communication skills as a result of my attendance to the Networking Event and speaking to the new people in the office each day. I feel like I now know more about the business world and have been shown some of the necessary skills a businessperson/salesperson needs in this environment, and I believe I will be able to apply such skills to my future, such as in applying to university, applying for jobs and exploring where my interests can take me.

Firestarter: It’s been great having you here Ellen and we hope that yours and Firestarter’s paths cross again in the future, do you have any final thoughts?

Ellen: The real-world experience Firestarter has given me, with its stimulating projects and pleasing company culture has allowed me to build long-term foundations for my future and start new relationships with people in the business world I would have never met or interacted with before. It feels safe to say that this week has truly introduced me to the working world; I have been put out of my comfort zone, but at the same time, I have had the ability built up my self-confidence. And therefore, I can say nothing but thank you to the Firestarter team for allowing me to have this amazing experience this past week.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Ellen Kemmett for joining us at Firestarter for her work experience. It has been a pleasure having her with us, and we value the contributions she made during her time here.

We encourage all readers to take a moment to read Ellen’s article “The Role of a Salesperson: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” It showcases her talent for creative writing and provides a unique perspective on the discussions held during Firestarter’s Roundtable Meeting.

Thank you Ellen and we wish you all the best in your academic and professional pursuits.

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