Niki Hughes, Opening Doors Project Coordinator at the University of Cambridge Museums has been an Ambassador with Form the Future for around four years. She tells us why she’s still so enthusiastic about inspiring the next generation through volunteering.
There are so many options when it comes to volunteering. What made you choose Form the Future?
“The world of “work” for many young people is a complicated place; being asked the dreaded question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is hugely frustrating as young people will tend to only know about careers that are visible to them, which tend to be more traditional roles.”
Museums and heritage careers are not visible to people, so how would they know if they would, or wouldn’t like to work in it?
“Form the Future gives young people that rare opportunity to explore and understand career routes, by talking to people who have been through it themselves. I really do wish this type of resource was open to all young people across the country as, for instance, my nieces would have relished this opportunity and any guidance in thinking about their futures.”
What do you actually do, during a volunteer sessions?
“There are lots of different opportunities you can get involved in, such as Mock Interviews, Careers Fairs or ‘Careers Carousels’: where you talk to small groups of young people about your job. My favourite session is ‘What’s My Line’ and it is a real hoot! The sessions work by each volunteer spending about 20 mins in each classroom. The students ask questions to try and figure out what your job is, like “did you go to university” or “do you work with the public”. It is very rare that the students will guess that I work in a museum straight away and often the guesses will be a bit wacky, which is always fun. Once the students guess, I spend a bit of time telling them about my role and what I love about it.”
How do you put yourself forward for schools or activities?
“Signing up is really easy, through the Form the Future website: everything is in an online calendar, and you just book in to what you want to do. There’s no minimum time commitment.”
What’s your favourite thing about it?
“Simply, it is a lot of fun! The students really get into the swing of it and ask some insightful and often hilarious questions. It is great to see the delight on their faces when they figure out that I work in museums, and it gives them the opportunity to think about a career path that they may not have thought about before. In addition, I tend to arrive a little early so that I can chat to the other ambassadors taking part; it means that I also get to learn about what they do and can help with networking outside of the sector that I work in.”
Obviously, there are benefits for the young people you speak to, but has volunteering with Form the Future also had personal benefits to you?
“It’s a great way to remind yourself of all the reasons you chose to follow a certain career, highlighting what you love about your job. I always feel really inspired after volunteering at a session.”
Any final advice for anyone who’s wondering whether they should become an ambassador too?
“Just do it! Get stuck in as is it is really good fun and it honestly does make you reengage with your role. Knowing that I might have made a positive impact on demystifying career paths feels great. I wish that I had something like this in my life as I was growing up as it may have made my career path a little smoother.”
We plan to share the Ambassador Spotlight in our monthly Ambassador Update emails, as well as on our website and social platforms. It’s a wonderful way to raise the profile of your own volunteering whilst supporting Form the Future in a new and different way.
If you’d like to feature in our next Ambassador Spotlight, email Dawn, our Ambassador Engagement Manager and she’ll send you questions to respond to.