My name is Sorcha and I left the mainstream school system at the age of fifteen to join Stepping Stones School in Hindhead, Surrey. From an educational perspective, Stepping Stones helped me to gain the qualifications that I needed to receive a place at Chichester college. I was able to achieve more than I ever expected and left with an Entry Level 2 English qualification, an Entry Level 3 Maths qualification and a level 1 BTEC in Work Skills in the bag! In addition to this, and arguably the most significant, Stepping Stones has also helped me on a personal level where their family-like environment and friendly staff allowed me to build up my self-esteem and strengthen my resilience. As a result of my time at Stepping Stones, when I started the transition from school to college, although it was a little bit nerve wracking I found that I had the courage and self-belief to give it a go.

When Larry first suggested a work placement when we were talking at the Sundial festival of July 2017, I struggled to imagine myself in an office environment. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure if I would have the confidence or the ability to cope in a large, global organisation such as COINS – it was both terrifying and liberating at the same time.

On my first day, I was really shy and the staff in the Accounts Department and on Reception coached me out of my shell by making me feel at home as well as building my confidence by inviting me to participate in tasks that challenged me, where I had to learn new things. The work ranged from using the computer and headset to answering the phone and sending emails through as well as raising purchase orders independently. I was also able to see the purchase ledger in international currencies such as Dubai’s Dirham and the Australian Dollar which I found really interesting.

Working on reception at COINS

My work placement at COINS was a little daunting but it was something that I really wanted to succeed at and the whole experience has been exhilarating. Juggling working in the Accounts department in the morning and on Reception has really pushed me out of my comfort zone but as a result it has been hugely beneficial for my development.

The highlight of my time at COINS was spending my 19th birthday there, in Dolly Parton’s words, “working 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin” (although, my day ended at 5:30pm). This work experience has made me realise that it is possible for me to have a career, something that I couldn’t have imagined four years ago as well as sparking an interest in a future profession in finance. My time with COINS has given me even more motivation for my course at Chichester College where I am studying Business administration. I would like to thank Noreen, Sonia, Hari, Charles, Julia and, of course, Larry, for helping me to believing in myself and for giving me this amazing opportunity.

It has been one step towards my dream of eventually working as a member of a team in a professional business environment and I have loved every minute of it.