Toby Caldwell speaks about their positive experiences while working for the National Park Authority in partnership with the Career Ready program. Career Ready matches a school student with a mentor who shares their interests and hobbies to provide them with a four-week paid internship with a view to build the student’s skills and confidence before returning to their final year in school.
I was very nervous when I agreed to take part in the Career Ready program, but I knew this was a rare opportunity so I didn’t turn back.
When I met my mentor Ali, I felt so much relief hearing how she spoke about the National Park. I could tell by her passion that I would enjoy my time working for the Park. She helped me to be prepared, comfortable and confident coming into work – I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. She has helped me to push myself so many times and answered every question I had for her.
While working at Balmaha Visitor Centre, it took me a while to learn the area and feel comfortable approaching visitors, but with the help and encouragement of the rangers at the Visitor Centre, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone as much as I possibly could. The rangers taught me everything I needed to know, and they were by my side to keep me right.
I would love to pursue a career in the National Park. I have now joined the Junior Rangers and will be trying to volunteer as much as possible. I have noticed a great change in my communication skills and confidence over the past month, which I can continue to build on at Junior Ranger sessions.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you. I’m grateful for getting to meet wonderful new people, learning from every department, travelling to beautiful places and improving my social skills.
I know an office environment is totally different from school so my goal was to make Toby feel comfortable and also to challenge them to try new things. Toby took to this really quickly, going out with volunteers on their second day and doing a task they had never done before. Each week we would reflect on the set of skills Toby was developing and each week they were more and more confident about themselves and their abilities.
Everyone was really supportive and helped Toby feel part of the National Park family which also really helped to make them comfortable in the working environment. Toby, by their own admission, didn’t really know much about the National Park before Career Ready, and now is a passion advocate for the Park which is amazing. They are also now looking to change their career options to environmental management which would never have crossed their minds before the program. I am so proud of what Toby has accomplished and am confident that they will continue to build on their skills and knowledge. I have also gained a huge amount from participating in the program and would encourage others to consider mentoring a young person in the future.