I grew up in a working-class family on a council estate to two Congolese immigrants. At the time it seemed like opportunities were very far away as there wasn’t much to do in my estate. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of school; I wasn’t confident in my studies and didn’t get the best grades; I did always raise my hand in class and confident to ask or answer questions, especially when it’s something I am passionate about. Journalism seemed like the perfect industry for me. I was someone who had a different mindset from my peers, a passion for what was around me and looked for someone who would listen to my ideas.
Thoughts on the experiences through Access Aspiration programme
The Access Aspiration assembly at Sixth Form made me realise that I will be able to gain professional networks, which I didn’t think was possible before. My first experience was a speed networking session hosted by Twitter. The event gathered a wide range of professionals representing different industries from media to telecoms. I met Ian Holloway who I could contact soon after and secure a work experience with EE!
Then came the tour around the Parliament and a visit to Channel 4 newsroom. I will never forget that day. I would always pass these places on the bus and being inside was such a great experience. Stuart Donaldson, Jess Philips, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband; they wall made time to meet with us. Having the opportunity to meet these people in person was a complete surprise. I was able to ask all of the them about their career paths. I remember asking Ed Miliband if he considers going back to lead the labour.
On the way to Channel 4 we were all excited to meet Jon Snow and Fatima Manji. I couldn’t stop smiling! You could feel how intrigued everyone was in the room when they shared their background stories and told us their journeys to broadcasting careers. I can now say I met those people and put their advice into practice.
Back in school Access Aspiration arranged a speed networking session and mock interviews for all Y12 students. My mock interviewer gave me feedback about my body language, eye contact and confidence. I remember she said my handshake was too strong; I feel like I’m getting there now – the perfect handshake!
The experiences taught me to conduct myself in a well-mannered way. People who really want to make an impact are seen and appreciated. I gained confidence to build professional networks on my own. In the summer of 2017, I reached out to Iman Amrani, the Guardian journalist who did a moving coverage story about the Grenfell Tower fire. I was so surprised to see her reply, even more when she offered to meet me to share some advice! I have also experienced rejection from other opportunities as well, but I believe all experiences are important for my development.
Thanks to the Access team I gained skills and made networks which will help my future. You’ve done a fantastic job. You care about young people and providing them the best possible opportunities.
I’m very grateful for being invited to the House of Lords for the certificates ceremony. It was an extraordinary experience in which I didn’t see coming for me.
Thoughts on Alumni group
Being an active alumni member gave me an opportunity to meet people, who like myself want to make an impact. I would like to encourage young people to be open-minded about opportunities out there. What I want to say to young people like me is: “Recognise the challenges, take responsibility for yourself and take opportunities that are offered to you. Pick up new skills and help others!”