Sandra Morrison

Name, new job title and schools you are going to be covering:

Sandra Morrison, Employer School Coordinator.

Banff Academy, Turriff Academy, Meldrum Academy, The Gordon Schools and Westfield.

As a young person, what was your aspirations growing up?

When I reflect on the various jobs I thought I’d like, the underlining theme was I wanted to help people and be the best I could; be it a farmer’s wife, a speech therapist or countryside ranger I wanted to help people and be the best I could at that job.

What pathway did you follow when you left school?

I left school at 16 and remember thinking I was fed up of teachers telling me what to do. This certainly shows my naivety and lack of understanding about the workplace and what happened there. I don’t remember having any career advice from school at the time. A friend shared information about a youth training scheme so I applied and within a couple of months the company offered me a permanent job. Although I started in office administration, I went on to have a rewarding and varied career in heritage education.

Following redundancy in 2016 I enrolled with the University of Aberdeen where I completed a BA in Professional Development, focussed on working with young people. In the meantime, I worked two part-time jobs: one with CLD Aberdeenshire Working with Young People and the other as a Place Partnership Co-ordinator in the arts and culture sector in Moray. I joined Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce last February as a senior administrator and am now very excited to join the DYW team.

What are you most excited about getting stuck into in your new role?

Cake! Sharing cake with like-minded people. Seriously, being able to collaborate with like-minded people, all sharing the same objective. Exploring and understanding challenges for all the partners: employers, schools and young people. Then working together to help strengthen and create meaningful links between school and work.

How crucial do you think the link is between schools and employers?

Given my own experience, I think the earlier we can help young people understand the world of work, the better. To be able to provide opportunities for young people to explore the diverse range of jobs that exist and to talk to people actually doing those jobs is vital. It will help them get a better understanding of the workplace but also to find out as early as possible if this is really the direction they want to go in. It also helps employers find the young people who are interested in their business or sector.

What do you think is the greatest benefit to employers that are involved with DYW?

There are so many benefits – it’s about finding the right one for the right employer. Some might find it’s a great way to meet and engage with the upcoming workforce for their business or industry whilst others might also see benefits for developing their current workforce by involving them in various DYW initiatives, e.g. giving talks to classes can help develop confident speakers in the workplace and perhaps re-engage them in the work they do.

Do you have a motto or personal mantra that you live by?

In general I would say “Be kind, be fair and breathe”. However, being a people-pleaser I do need to remind myself from time to time that helping others isn’t always helpful to me. Thanks to a former colleague I now have a work mantra in the form of a question, “Does this work for me?”

What would be your one piece of advice to 12-year old you?

Be yourself, make decisions for you not others, find your voice and use it – it’s as valid as the next person’s.