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“I had no idea how much I could change in a single year.”

Nazia is a City Year Mentor, serving on Team Moccasins in London, 2022-2023.

I am a university student on a four-year sandwich programme, which means you have the option to take a year to complete a placement, internship, or similar. I generally had no idea whether I should take a year out to do a placement, however, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my older sister. I had no idea how much I could change in a single year. I learned about City Year while attending a summer session at my university. Something caught my attention, and I decided to take a chance. I first doubted that I could work with secondary school students for an entire year. But I was proven wrong. In retrospect, I have gained numerous talents and matured as a person. If you were to ask me right now if I would suggest anyone to do a placement, I would say: yes, GO FOR IT!

I am a person who lacks structure and is unaware of how to manage my time most effectively. The City Year tasks we were assigned were quite time-consuming. I was irritated and wanted to quit at times. Taking up the duty of ten students and ensuring that each one receives assistance and equal opportunity. We had to be ready for mentoring sessions, reading groups, and courses on top of everything else. I knew it was because I didn’t want to overcome one of my shortcomings. Nothing was impossible, and I witnessed the impact it had on me. I was prepared and ready to tackle many duties at once. I won’t lie; there were moments when I fell behind. But, this forced me to learn from my mistakes and be more prepared for future tasks. This certainly put a strain on me, but returning to my last year of university will feel so much easier.

Let’s be honest, I’m sure all of us have, at least once, said to ourselves: “I’ll complete my essay tomorrow. I still have 2 days left?” I sure did! But City Year did teach me a valuable lesson. My colleagues, Impact Officer, my Bridge Builder Mentor, and one of the Teaching Assistants, were my strongest supporters during my placement. They kept me motivated at every stage of the process. They all worked together to ensure that I completed my tasks on time and to a good quality.

One benefit of City Year was having a Bridge Builder Mentor. This is an industry professional who we are paired with throughout our year of service. He assisted me with a variety of tasks, including my university work, writing a CV and cover letter, and much, much more. But most significantly, he helped me recognise my own abilities and encouraged me to reach my full potential. We are all demotivated these days and postpone many of our tasks. Completing my placement with City Year has modified my behaviour and helped me build a more optimistic outlook.

It is essential to have strong cooperation, communication, and confidence in almost any task you undertake. We have all likely collaborated with others while at school. At City Year, I discovered that I was developing these abilities. I had a fantastic group, and I was fortunate to form close bonds with them. I was able to connect with others, which is something I seldom do. It pushed me out of my comfort zone to the extent where I now have a ‘work mum’. She supported me emotionally and made sure I was thinking optimistically. It made me appreciate the significance and advantages of teamwork and communication. You can overcome hurdles quicker with the support of your team and others.

My year of service has been a place for constant learning and success. We have obtained extra training through City Year, such as a CMI level 3 certification in coaching, mentoring, and leadership development, which is entirely covered by the programme. I also received invigilator training and two qualifications from the school I volunteered with. One of City Year’s finest features is that there is a wide variety of experiences for you to try. I want to become an interview journalist in future, but I need to build some experience first. I was able to create a podcast, thanks to City Year, where I would ask other mentors and staff about their personal journeys in City Year.

To sum up, participating in a placement year will motivate you, teach you how to work more effectively, and help prepare you for your final year at university. You get to build strong relationships with individuals, which will continue long after your time at City Year.

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