A lot of people are willing to help, but it’s about being brave enough and assertive enough to ask.
Have clear aims and understandings, “I have these 3 questions, this is what I need to come away from this meeting knowing.
We need to evaluate circumstances; to take account of the quality of school that people have been to, and weigh that against their academic performance. A person who has gone to a more difficult school has had to work a lot harder to hit the same grades as, say, someone who has been to private school.
“I went to state school in South London. I’m from an ordinary working-class family with a single mum, but my dad was still in my life, so not necessarily the cliché single parent family. I did well enough at school to get into Cambridge University. On graduating, I started to understand the other elements that determine success in British society, and the barriers to entry in certain careers…
I couldn’t really understand why I wasn’t getting the opportunities that I expected, because I had a good degree from a good university. I saw, for example, how you’re able to do voluntary work or unpaid internships when you have the economic support behind you that allows you to work for free, compared to someone who doesn’t…
A somewhat obscure family connection offered me a role as a trainee accountant under him. Whilst I was working for him he educated me on a lot of the different soft skills such as: networking. He advised how to access careers in certain professions, and what is required to get ahead once you’re inside, which may not solely relate to ability and performance. Part of the problem is access and gaining opportunity, but then there’s also progression. That’s still weighted against people from certain underrepresented backgrounds. The drop-out rate of people who come from ethnic minorities, state schools, women, is higher in the big, elite professions like finance, media, law, etc.
I started a charity called Key Sessions alongside my friend from university who works for the BBC; he did a documentary, ‘How to Break into the Elite’. which addresses these issues”. Our charity aims to provide inspiration and insight into elite professions to students from underrepresented backgrounds.”