This week’s special edition of Employee Spotlight features Lisa Jiang. Lisa is a 6th form pupil at Ashfield Girls School, Belfast and has been with us for a 6 week internship over the summer break. Lisa has been a great asset to Pacem over the summer break bringing a positive attitude to the team and work.

Lisa tells us a bit more about her experience at Pacem below.

I had first heard of Pacem from the leader of my Career Ready Programme, mentioning how they won an Eastside Award for Employer of the Year. At the time I was not yet interested because I had no idea what Pacem did, and even when the leader suggested a work experience at this company known as ‘Pacem’, I was still indifferent. To my surprise, I was then informed that two representatives of Pacem would come to my school to tell us about ‘Finance’ and ‘Accountancy’. Two words I hear way too many times when people talk about future jobs but have never delved deep enough to know what they actually are beyond money. In the presentation, I asked questions and I had questions answered but everything remained a blur to me. In hindsight, I think the presentation was an excellent idea as it actually left me thinking about it.

As Pacem had been kind enough to lend some of their time to visit my school, I thought it was only fair to offer some of mine and visit their company when they provided a date and time. I thought that there was no harm in coming to see them, with the bonus of getting a glimpse of a real office during real working hours. It was about half an hour before my agreed time that I actually started to panic. Mostly because I was later told that all young people were to be interviewed individually but also because this is a real office with people actually working. I called my mentor and told her all my worries, and she reassured me well. Later that day I got a phone call from the leader of the Programme saying that Pacem was incredibly impressed with me, even though I did not think I was presenting the best version of myself.

Hearing such positive words about me from Pacem made me really happy. I appreciate people’s words a lot and if ‘impressed’ is what Pacem were then I wanted to prove that I am up to their standards. A few weeks later, after signing all the forms, I was in the work experience and prepared to start my first day.

It was better knowing that Pacem aimed to offer young people the opportunities leading into Finance & Accountancy. This meant that there were other young people my age in the work experience too, which, consequently, made me feel more confident in knowing that I was not the only one who would be nervous. It was even better to arrive into Pacem’s building and be greeted so politely and kindly, and to be treated like a friend by all the adults despite our major difference in work. I find that during my experience in Pacem, I did not just talk about work but also talked about myself, and in turn, I got the chance to learn about the roles of Pacem’s employees and their amazing characters. I felt like an equal. I felt like I belonged in Pacem. I felt like I was at home. Everyday I had something that I would look forward to in the next day.

I was finally put into a position where I would be able to properly develop my skills and qualities, primarily communication, creativity and confidence, as not just a student or an employee but as a person.

Through Finance & Accountancy, I was familiarised with app softwares such as Intelligent Office, AutoEntry and QuickBooks. It certainly opened my eyes as I never knew that this field of work was so substantial that it required many, many helping hands. The supporting systems and the different kinds of people to make it successful. Out of all the possible skills that I exist, I think I exercised my patience skills the most as many tasks involved a lot of repetition. As a result of this (hopefully) improved patience, I feel confident in going back to school and enjoy my education more. I can also go back home feeling more appreciative for the people around me, because like a work experience, some of the people that you spend your time with – without even thinking of an end – will not last forever. But that is clearly not the end of it. Patience was not the only skill I developed.

Finance & Accountancy is not for everyone. And even if you were interested, Pacem would still not be for everyone as much as it was for me. However, it would not be sensible to miss an opportunity to add something to your CV, or explore an area in which you’ve never stepped into before, or even miss the opportunity to meet really great people.

If you fear the idea of working with adults handing you work that is actually crucially important to their business, just remember, this is a work experience. These are adults who know that you are young and perhaps confused and unsure of what you want to do in the future. They will not make you feel uncomfortable – because why would they? No one would want to stop you from exploring the different possibilities of your future.

About jessica.higginson@podiem.com