At the age of 19, I left the safety of my home city and headed to the bright lights of London. I started a few random jobs but found nothing I loved. Then I saw a job post for a temporary role at the Camp America head office to help answer calls and emails from participants.
I’d heard about Camp America at school but I hadn’t followed it through because I didn’t think I had the right kind of skills. Oh, if only I had known!
Thanks to my customer service experience, I was offered the job. I had no clue what I was doing but quickly got involved. I managed to pick up the ins and the outs of the programme pretty quickly and spent my days helping hundreds of applicants with their Camp America queries.
Before I knew it, my contract was about to come to an end. It was the best job I had ever had, so I was desperate to stay.
And then a permanent position came up to join the Camp America marketing team.
Now…I faced a few hurdles. Firstly, they wanted someone who had done the programme. Nope, not me. Secondly, they were looking for a marketing graduate. I wasn’t even sure what marketing was and I’d never even stepped foot into a university. But hey, I was willing to give anything a go!
Feeling brave (and with lots of encouragement from my amazing co-workers) I went straight to the top and begged them to give me a chance. What did I have to lose?
Surprisingly they agreed to let me go through the interview process.
I was up against it. The job ad had been published in the national papers and I was competing against people who easily matched all the requirements. Cut to the interview and I got an absolute grilling. Why would they ever offer the role to someone who hadn’t done the programme or knew a single thing about marketing?
You want to target young people who didn’t go to university – I’m that person.
I never did the programme but I had seen one of your brochures. I can be that marketing perspective that you missed.
I’m now in my 10th year of my full-time career working for Camp America. As a Marketing and Communications Manager, I’m invited to regularly speak as a ‘youth marketing expert’ at industry events and conferences. I’ve experienced the Camp America programme as a counsellor. I’ve started a master’s course. I’ve done countless presentations to thousands of people in pretty much every university across the UK. I’ve become a marketer, a copywriter and a child protection officer. I’ve travelled across the world.
I’ve gained all the skills I need thanks to Camp America.
So whatever your results, if you’re not sure what to do next, take one bit of advice. Do Camp America. It will help you figure things out and gives you the confidence to take on any challenge. It teaches you how to deal and communicate with all different types of people – which is the best possible skill you can gain. You learn to work hard, do what you love, take chances and aim for whatever it is if you want. Even if you don't fit the job requirements.
My only regret - not doing Camp America when I was first handed that brochure! But hey, I might not be here loving life in my dream job if I hadn't taken the path I did.