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Gerald Palmer, City Year London, 2014-15

Volunteer mentor in uniform

I first heard about City Year UK through my university careers department. I immediately saw two benefits to applying. Firstly, that I could give a year of service to help pupils in school, and secondly that City Year would help me with my career path.

I was based at School 21 in Stratford, East London. Nothing could have prepared me for a year working with kids! For me and my team, it was a really great experience. It was great to see how we could relate to the children, and use this relationship to encourage them to want to come to school and actually enjoy being in lessons.

I had a lot of opportunities outside of school for personal development, including travelling to Washington D.C., USA to give a speech about my experiences with City Year UK. There were also CV workshops and I learned a lot from the leaders who came to talk to us on a Friday. I used the opportunity of meeting those leaders to network. I asked if I could spend some time in their businesses and managed to get experience in HR with both Aramark, a catering company, and Barclays Bank. I’m currently working with Credit Suisse in Corporate Citizenship on a placement through East London Business Alliance.

City Year was a great experience for me. All the opportunities I’ve had through them – to lead workshops, to go to Washington, to make a difference to struggling pupils – have really put me in a good position for my future.

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