Careers Advice

Inspirational women tell us their stories this National Careers Week

Sadie White No Comments

Last night’s Door43 Café at Star House saw a National Careers Week take over with two of our inspirational female ambassadors Sophie Maxwell of The Really NEET Project and Liz Byrnes, sports reporter telling young people their life stories and careers journeys, along with their top tips for navigating the journey.

‘You can never aim too high.’ says Sophie Maxwell to a group of young people sat intently listening to her. Sophie is a very engaging and inspiring individual and the founder of The Really NEET Project, a social enterprise with the purpose of opening up opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and helping them to realise their dreams.

“I’m passionate about driving positive change. So many young people get caught up in the chaotic nature of life and stray off track from reaching their potential. I believe with the right mentor and support anything is possible, the world is limitless!” says Sophie.

Sophie founded Really NEET with less than 20 pounds in her back pocket and has built a team of 11 passionate and dedicated staff members that go above and beyond in helping some of society’s most disadvantaged young people to believe and achieve in their education.

Sophie had many challenges along the way. ‘I have not just had to learn about running a business but also how to successfully hit difficult educational targets. Running the Really NEET Project is also quite an emotional role, you are working with young people who have been through extremely difficult circumstances, some have been abused, some have been to prison, many are homeless, some have come through the care system and many of them are suffering from mental health issues and/or learning difficulties. Every day brings a new challenge, whether it is finding funding, managing staff and ensuring their welfare, finding young people emergency accommodation, taking young people to engage with mental health services, designing the curriculum, delivering training, writing Tenders, developing strategies, liaising with stakeholders and many other elements to the role what I can say is that I have learnt so much in such a short amount of time.’ She says.

Liz Byrnes is one of around 12 female sports reporters in the UK which is not only testament to the under representation of women in this field but also paints a picture of how difficult it might seem to break into this profession to a young woman considering sports journalism as a career. Liz has carved out a successful career for herself on the national and international stage and feels it important to pass on her experiences as a female sports reporter and thriving in a world which is overwhelmingly male. Liz is also keen to point out the importance of information, advice and support gained from a mentor she had from a former Star/Telegraph editor and how without this support she may never have ended up where she is.

‘Many people are surprised when I tell them what I do and often ask about sexism within football in particular but I would like to pass on the importance of backing yourself, self-belief and persistence. The rewards I have had are enormous – I have met some great people and travelled all over the world – and I want young people to know that these roles and possibilities are out there, that we are not just faceless people from a certain walk of life, that these jobs are for them. I am passionate that everyone should have access and chances and I would like provide the sort of support and help that I had. I also want to convey that you can follow your heart and passion and that there is not just one firm way to live your life that is set in stone.’ Says Liz.

‘I struggled for quite a long time finding out what I wanted to do in life and how to go about it. I lost all confidence and felt that I would not fit in anywhere or be able to succeed. This was despite being well-qualified. I eventually chose to re-train as a journalist and I was encouraged and helped by one person in particular, a former Star/Telegraph editor in Sheffield.’

‘I fully appreciate the importance of being given practical help and advice as well as friendly support. I work across a number of sports including football where I am very often the only woman in the press room. When I first started out I felt that I had to prove myself although as I have become established and gained more experience, this has dissipated. However, I can understand that it could be overwhelming.’ Liz continues.

Our information, advice and guidance team are here at Star House Monday to Friday for young people to drop in and gain careers advice and support every day 9-5 Monday to Thursday and 10-4 on Friday. You can find  more information here.





Tuesday 31st October

Tash Bright No Comments

Don’t get spooked about your future…

Looking for training? Apprenticeships? Study programmes?

Find out more about where your future could take you. There will be a range of training providers happy to discuss opportunities available for you!

Drop in any time between 11am - 2pm on Tuesday 31st October

at NACRO, 70 Earl Street, Sheffield, S1 4PY

This event is suitable for people aged 16-19.

NACRO Halloween

Apprentices: Kick-Start Your Career

Sadie White No Comments

Apprenticeships are on the rise – in 2015/16, 509,400 apprentices started their journey in England, which is 9,500 more than in 2014/15. And, the largest growing industry for apprentices is the services industry, with 71 per cent of new recruits taking up positions in business administration, law, health, public services, retail and the commercial sector. The rise of apprenticeship availability creates a great opportunity for young people who are just starting their working lives and need to figure out what they want to do as a career.

An alternative route into employment

In a world where a large percentage of school leavers are going to college and University, and every job application is contested by graduates, an apprenticeship provides an alternative route into a career for many who feel higher education isn’t necessarily the best route for them.

Many apprenticeships are ideal for school or college leavers, providing them with an entry into the work market which will help them develop skills and knowledge on the job.

Investment in futures

Whilst completing an apprenticeship, the company will teach the tools of the trade needed to excel in a particular area, be it in business, manufacturing or public services.

Alongside tuition, apprentices will learn off the job, for example in the classroom, helping to develop an apprentice’s theoretical knowledge base outside of the work context.

The effort a company puts in to mould an apprentice to their work methods means that they are investing in apprentices for the future which increases the likelihood of the employer wanting to retain apprentices in the longer term.

Readymade career path

Being retained as an employee after an apprenticeship ends creates options for progression and promotion with the company which gives an apprentice an advantage over unemployed applicants who are applying from the outside. Often companies will advertise internally for promotions, especially larger ones, and as a known employee, there is an advantage over those who trawl job sites looking for opportunities.

Apprentices also tend to be loyal to the company that they have been with from the start, creating a vital, experienced member of staff that the company can rely on to grow and thrive – something that is extremely difficult to find when hiring externally.

Sponsored content: The Source Academy


Young People’s Options Day – 25th August!

Tash Bright No Comments

GCSE grades not what you expected? Not sure what to do next?

Come to Star House, 43 Division Street, Sheffield, S1 4GE on Friday 25th August 11-3 to find out more about:

  • Apprenticeships
  • College
  • Traineeships
  • Study Programmes

Options Day - GCSE

Our impact on people in Sheffield City Region

Tash Bright No Comments

Sheffield Futures has proudly launched their annual Impact Report, demonstrating the ways in which thousands of people are benefitting from their services across the city.

The report for 2016/17 documents Sheffield Futures impact on young people, including supporting 3827 young people through one-to-one interventions and running 54 youth club sessions per week across Sheffield. The charity has presented 369 young people with Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and supported 816 young people to improve their attitude towards school. Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service have provided Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness training to 1093 young people in schools across the city region.

The charity provides mentoring and specialist support to those who need it most in the region. Sheffield Futures provide support and activities to help steer young people towards a more positive future, one in which they can fulfil their full potential in learning, employment and life.

The report was launched at Sheffield Futures Showcase Event on 18th July at the Workstation. At the event, four videos were shown, demonstrating how all Sheffield Futures services provide support to local people in four key areas: improved social skills, life skills and independence; enabling community participation and belonging; meaningful progression in education, employment and training and improved health and wellbeing.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Anne Murphy, launched the Showcase Event said: “Sheffield Futures have a huge impact on the lives of young people and communities in Sheffield. Today’s communities face many challenges and Sheffield Futures work is vital to helping local people overcome the barriers to success.”

Olympian, and Sheffield Futures Ambassador, Bryony Page, attended the event as well as Sheffield Young Advisors who were part of a “youth takeover” of all Sheffield Futures social media accounts. One young person on the Talent Match programme, Laura, told her story, from homelessness through to successfully sustaining employment. Young Advisor, Jess Chittenden, recorded a video where she talks about how Sheffield Futures have helped her to gain confidence and to become the person she is today.

The Impact Report 2016/17 is available on the Sheffield Futures website:

Ambassador Inspires the Next Generation of Young Women

Tash Bright No Comments

In celebration of International Women’s Day, 8th March, Sheffield Futures has announced their latest Youth Ambassador, Kavita Donkersly, founder of the formidable blog – She Wears Fashion.

Hailing from Sheffield, 24-year-old blogger Kavita is proud to be a Youth Ambassador as she is a strong advocate for inspiring young people to follow their passion like she did.

Kavita said: “I started my blog because I’d just moved schools and I basically had no friends. I was really lonely and I wasn’t particularly fashionable but I felt like there was a community online that understood me and I found creativity that I never realised I had. I’d always been very academic at school and you’re pushed to be very academic, especially because you want to get good grades. Doing my blog meant that I had an outlet and I could be creative.”

Kavita’s blog, She Wears Fashion has gone on to become one of the top fashion blogs in the UK. As a Youth Ambassador Kavita hopes to pass on her skills and experience to the young people that Sheffield Futures support across the Sheffield region and she will be hosting social media workshops at Sheffield Futures youth clubs this year. National Careers Week is also currently taking place and Kavita thinks that young people need to be given the chance to change their minds and discover what they want to do.

Kavita says:When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer because my dad was a lawyer. I also wanted to be a singer or an actress when I was younger until I realised I couldn’t sing…and I couldn’t act. My blog started as a hobby. For three years I did it because I loved it and it was a way to be creative. When you start something, you should never just expect it to take off overnight. I worked part time in a retail job I hated, so I could save money until I could blog full time. When I first got paid for blogging, I realised I could turn this into a career because my blog was becoming popular. I was really passionate about it and I never gave up. Even if it was just me and my mum reading the blog it was still important to me because I believed in it. It humbles me so much to know that it turned into a job that I love and I wake up everyday and I love it.”

Before she turned twenty, Kavita had never left the country. In the last four years as her blog has taken off, she has had the chance to visit 42 countries. She has been invited to attend fashion week events all over the world. She has met Rihanna and Katy Perry and has collaborated with brands such as H&M, Lacoste and Miss Selfridge. With so much success it may be surprising to find out that even Kavita sometimes still doubts herself.

“Everyone doubts themselves whether you’re in a job like mine or whether you’re in a normal nine to five. You always question whether you’re going down the right path. I never thought I would do something in fashion. Sometimes other people’s opinions of me when they find out I do fashion makes me doubt myself. At the end of the day, as much as I love my job, if it ended up not being a job anymore because people didn’t care anymore, I know I could throw myself into something else. I think a lot of people look at my job and think it’s the best job in the world. I get to travel the world, I get free clothes but one of the worst things about my job is the online hate. There’s always someone who doesn’t like you whether you’re the best person in the world or the worst person in the world. You could be the nicest, most beautiful person and people will still call you horrible things, so you might as well just be yourself.

Building her own brand for the last eight years from scratch has meant that she has had to remain focused. There are many people who inspire here to keep motivated. Kavita explains: “I have to get up everyday and produce content. Weekends aren’t a thing. My job is all the time. There are other women in the industry that really inspire me but the people who inspire me the most are people who have businesses and that have started from nothing. I try not to get to the point where I look up to someone so much that I end up not feeling good enough. I think blogging is hard and a very female orientated industry. I think the media does a lot to make women feel like they should compete with each other and that they’re not good enough, so I try to avoid doing that to myself.“

Kavita wants to encourage young people who are not sure what they want to do after school to visit Sheffield Futures at their Division Street one-stop-shop for support and guidance from their qualified staff. Sheffield Futures also run Careers Clinics in schools across the Sheffield region support young people into employment, further education and training opportunities. As a Sheffield Futures Youth Ambassador Kavita hopes to inspire young people to explore their career options and to try not to feel pressured and stressed about their futures.

“For people who don’t know what they want to do after school, I’d say don’t just do a degree because you feel like you have to. I think if you really don’t want to go to university because you don’t know what you want to do, get a job, graft a little bit. Take some time to figure out what you want to do. No one knows what they want to do at 18, I didn’t”, said Kavita.

Visit or contact 0114 201 2800 to see how Sheffield Futures can help you. Please email if you would like to become a Sheffield Futures Ambassador.

National Careers Week – How Jack turned his passion into Pie!

Tash Bright No Comments

Today marks the beginning of National Careers Week, which promotes the importance of good careers education in schools and colleges. British Pie Week also kicks off today, so we spoke with Sheffield Futures supporter, Jack Norman of pop up shop Pie Eyed, to discuss how he turned his passion of making pies into a career and why he would like to encourage young people to pursue a career they love.

Jack Norman, owner of Pie Eyed said: “I never really knew what I wanted to be when I was at school. No one really ever sat us down and said, ‘you know what guys, you can run your own business’. I never expected to be a pie man. I worked at big high street chain restaurants when I was at university. I got to the end of my degree and unfortunately I lost my dad. He had always wanted to run his own business, so I just thought ‘sod it’, and here we are today.”

At Sheffield Futures we work with young people across the Sheffield region to help them plan their futures after school. Leaving school can be a scary and confusing time when lots of young people are unsure of what route to take.

“I went for a lot of corporate job interviews after university and that inspired me not to go down that route. Sheffield is full of great independent businesses and business owners. Sometimes you’re working hard and you think you’re working harder than anyone else in the world when you just want to be home watching television. Then you meet other business owners in Sheffield and it reminds you that you’re doing the right thing and you’re not alone. It gives you motivation to keep going” said Jack.

Jack is a supporter of the drop in sessions that Sheffield Futures run, as well as their Careers Clinics they hold in schools across the Sheffield region. Both services are run by qualified staff that support young people into employment, further education and training opportunities.

Talking about taking the plunge into opening his own business in 2014, Jack said: “The thing is, it is a lot of work. When we started, we didn’t know a thing. There wasn’t a secret pie recipe, we spent weeks looking at how to build your own website. Obviously you can pay people to do everything for you but when you have a small budget, you have to put in a lot of hard work yourself.”

Jack would advise young people who are unsure of what they want to do after school to visit one of Sheffield Futures drop in sessions to help them understand their options. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong in taking your time to discover what you want to do.”

Visit Careers Advice to see how Sheffield Futures can help you.

New Year, New Career – Eva’s Story

Tash Bright No Comments

Eva's Story

“My ultimate aim is to become a nurse in the UK because I worked as a nurse in [Slovakia].” 

Eva visited Sheffield Futures and met with a Careers Adviser who helped her to understand how her qualifications compared to those needed to become a nurse in the UK. Together, they worked on Eva’s CV to ensure that it made the most of her transferable skills.

Eva said: “They gave me hope and showed me how to apply for jobs in the UK. Now I know which way I need to go, I understand what level of education I have and what this means for my dream to become a nurse.” 

“I only spent a short time with my Careers Adviser but they helped me a lot. They gave me ideas about where I am going and I would encourage anyone to contact Sheffield Futures because they are friendly and helpful.”

If you’re not sure about what direction to take in the new year, why not call Sheffield Futures and make an appointment with a Careers Adviser?

Our Adult Careers Service is free and staffed by qualified Careers Advisers. Open to adults aged 19 and above. Book in for a confidential 1:1 appointment: come to the Job Shop at Star House or call in to see us at Bailey Court Job Centre where we are most days.

We can help with:

  • Preparing a CV for you/updating your CV
  • Interview practice
  • Career review
  • Local training and education opportunities
  • Job search methods including social media
  • Moving up the career ladder

Check out What’s On at Sheffield Futures for details of when the Job Club is running. If you would like to make an appointment to see an Adult Adviser please ring us on 0114 201 2914.


How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.